First place winner, Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August, 2019
Not too distant from here exist two cities wrapped in an unfortunate duality. Both were prosperous in their own rights, but the foundation of each prosperity could not differ more. In both cities, the population differs only in lifestyle; each citizen has just as much opportunity as the next. For those lifestyles, however, this could not seem further from the case.
In the city of Bliss, the citizens could not look happier though they try. From the outside of their houses, one would assume Bliss was a resort for the rich and powerful. The path to each door is lined with flowers that beg to be smelled, though they have nothing to offer. The windows are maliciously tinted by a door with an excess of locks. Though the intricate designs and floral arrangements differ equally, the windows and doors are identical as if required by law.
The buisnesses are equally as opulent as the residential area though surprisingly the windows are the main attraction. The shelves are empty and the aisles are rarely traveled but the windows are lined with the most up to date products of every variety though their authenticity and customer satisfaction is not guaranteed.
The citizens of Bliss are things of wonder in and of themselves. Much like the rest of Bliss, from looks alone you’d think each citizen was as wise and well off as the next. Just like the buisnesses and homes, the citizens lack any foundation to support their façade.
In conversation, one would be none the wiser as the citizens of Bliss seem to have endless knowledge and affirmation for their beliefs. In a single conversation they can flip and flop from one stance to another in a desperate attempt to avoid dissonance. Every life in Bliss seems lie a desperate attempt to please others, but with no foundational commitment to personal values every life is a fight to avoid facing the true self.
Downwind from Bliss lies a small decrepit town that exists in a stark contrast. In this town everything is presented exactly as it exists. Depending on the needs of the inhabitants, the houses are small with enough rooms to meet one’s needs without excess. The houses have modest gardens that boast both fragrance and substance despite lacking visual appeal. From the functional streets you can see through the windows and observe lives with purpose.
Main Street hosts a variety of unique businesses that meet the needs fully of the town. The shopkeepers offer welcoming doors and are eager to learn the name of anyone who enters and find out how they may assist them. As eager as they may be to assist, they’re equally as happy to let one know they cannot help and point them in the appropriate direction for a business that can.
This in nature is the ultimate difference from Bliss. While the city has a sole focus of ego maintenance, this exiled town’s focus is one of understanding and knowledge. That isn’t to say the town doesn’t see visitors from Bliss. Every citizen from Bliss will visit the town at least once a week in search of advice or assistance who they will swear by as if they discovered it themselves.
The townspeople don’t mind as they were also once citizens of Bliss. That is how the village began; the more exposure one receives on the Beliefs of Bliss, the more reluctant they are to return. Then, once one has made their final departure, they actively strive to sustain life outside the morally destitute city.
It is crucial to note that living in either location has no bearing on one’s character. Equally as many good, innocent people life in Bliss as bad, corrupt people live in exile. The town’s seperation is entirely based on how their pursuit of truth with no bearing on how they use it.
After all, ignorance is Bliss.