The quota had been set. Marching orders, given. For four years I had been dreading this day, but here I sat, with dozens of other cadets, waiting for the command I knew was minutes away. Most of my fellows don’t feel as I do, in fact, I don’t believe any of them share my sentiments. That’s just one of the reasons I have learned to keep these feelings to myself, the repercussions should someone find out are- well frankly, I’d rather not think about them just now.
I read about a time when things were different, many many decades ago when our kind lived in peace with theirs, when no one could even tell the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Most people I know believe this to be nothing more than a fairytale; the idea that we could live in harmony defied their definition of logic and sense. Imagine it, Marchers and Leapers side by side with no prejudice, no quotas, no line drawn in the sand? Even I have trouble believing a time like that ever truly existed.
But I want to.
Before my father snatched it away and had it thrown into the deepest gorge any Leaper would dare approach, I spent hours poring over that mystifying and ancient book. Its cover having long been removed, the pages were yellow and brittle. Finding it in an old burned out car, as I read the book’s title, it was as if someone had reached into my own rebellious heart and put in faded block lettering what I had struggled to ‘un-believe’ my entire life. It’s Just Another Day… by Anonymous. Even at the time of publication the savvy author undoubtedly knew the consequences of speaking such a traitorous thought, let alone putting it in circulation and in print.
Although no longer able to read from its pages, I have put to memory all of its doctrine, for it is my own as well. Central to its theme, and stated for all to read, the anonymous author claimed that February 29th was just a day like every other and those born within its twenty-four hour border should be treated no differently than the rest. It went on to say that Marchers and Leapers were of the same stock and less than two centuries ago shared tables and roadways, work spaces and classrooms, they even fell in love. All of his statements were put forth with such straightforward conviction and even supported by scientific data it was hard for me to not be unreservedly persuaded. Although, admittedly, I have a hard time believing that ‘Leap Day’ was added to compensate for the earth’s orbit being a little longer than 365 days, allowing the ‘days’ to stay synced with the season each year. A bit of a stretch, you’d have to agree.
Despite some obvious ‘faulty’ science, I could not ignore the ‘rightness’ of the author’s beliefs. What if we didn’t have a March 1a and a March 1b, and instead just had a February 29? What if the Leaplings, babies born on this fateful day, didn’t have to be collected and given to an approved Marcher family and instead were left to be raised by their Leaper parents? What if the Marchers stopped digging pits and blasting new gorges to fend off Leapers and in kind, Leapers stopped destroying all lace-up shoes forcing Marchers to walk about in Tevas? What if people stopped caring about who were right- Marchers and their ‘a’ ‘b’ system or Leapers who believed an extra day rightfully belonged to February?
“M. Archie! Report!”
The order had finally come and before I could tell my legs to defy the order, I stood at attention and awaited further instruction. Cursing my compliant Marcher nature, wishing for an ouch of the defiance I had seen in even the smallest of Leapers I silently followed the cadet in front of me as we began our fateful march. The deafening sound of thousands of male voices singing our people’s mantra- March on, Marchers, March on! rattled any independent thought from my brain. As we dispersed in our collection regiments, on our ways to snatch newly born infants away from their Leaper parents, generations of strong Marcher blood pumped through my veins and before I knew it, I was singing:
March on, Marchers, March on!
March on, Marchers, March…
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: It’s Leap Day! Duh…
TWO: In wishing a coworker a ‘Happy Leap Day’ I was informed that he did not acknowledge Leap Day, and as far as he was concerned today was March 1a, 2012 (tomorrow then would be March 1b, 2012). A conversation then ensued where he, a Marcher (non-leap day believer) and me a Leaper (someone who acknowledges February 29th as a day) defended our perspectives (vehemently at times) and tried to convert the other to ‘our side’. Along the way we made up fears of Leapers being large pits and gorges, banana peels and Tevas (pronounced Teh-va), rituals of Marchers and so on. Of course this was all in jest, but it sure was fun coming up with some of the Marcher vs. Leaper shtick.
Love & Squirrels.