Apologies to Kurt Vonnegut, whose writing style I imitated before I'd ever read him.

She never knew what time it had been.

Now we know it was 10:18 PM. She wasn't sure, because the light was so different down there. Back then it was dark for half of the year, and then light for the other half! Things aren't so much like that now.

They were all were very tall back then. Because of her, everybody is much shorter now. She was the last tall person. Her genes told her that she ought to be tall. The genes that told her to be tall were louder than the genes that told others to be short. If she'd lived and reproduced, her offspring's genes would have won out over the shorter people, and I might be willowy.

Her father had been quite short, just 1.6 meters. It had been thought that the tall ones were gone, that their type had disappeared generations ago. Not that they desired this. How could they have known that it was their giant stature and heavy bones that kept their feet locked to the soil? Her height of nearly 2 meters surprised everybody.

Her father, although he couldn't have known, was descended from the Ngala. That was what this African tribe called themselves, although the English language did not yet exist to express it in writing. They were the tallest people ever to live on this earth. It was not unusual for them to be 2.5 meters tall! Their ancestors had their feet locked to the soil, too, so they could not consume the fruits that were just above their reach. As is the way of things, the taller ones were likely to live longer, so tallness won out.

Her father, who called himself Bill, did not know this. He prided himself on being completely white in skin color like, he thought, all of his ancestors. He'd once killed a man because his skin was browner. How could he have known that they had the same ancestor? Things aren't so much like that now.

It wasn't the fall that killed her, it was the cold. The edge of the ice cliff had given way, and she fell hundreds of feet. Her arms were open, greeting the ground below that rushed up to meet this strange Hawaiian volcano-princess.

When she died, she saved everybody on the planet. Nobody knew it, of course. She was no martyr. Nobody knows about her now. They're more concerned with reproducing. And who can blame them? It's the best way to spread our seed.

That's the only accomplishment that people are proud of now. Jobs, travel, love, hate, war -- that's all out the window. (If we had windows.) It's all about spreading our seed. It's our duty. It was their duty then, too, only they had forgotten. If I lived back then, I think that I would have wanted to learn to play the flute. I think that it would be so beautiful to hear, if I had ears. Things aren't so much like that now.

She felt free. It was her first time flying. She felt like the children today when they first go into the air. Only she was the first person ever to do it, and she was just falling. Because of her, everybody flies now. So maybe she was a martyr. An accidental martyr.

When she broke the ice, she killed a penguin. That didn't affect the future of the penguins. It was just a penguin. They, too, disappeared because of their inability to fly.

If it had been warmer, if the water had been like the water 2000 kilometers north, she might have lived. But the water there was below freezing, kept liquid only by its movement and salinity. First was the disabling slap of the 10 centimeter-thick ice. Then the cold.

She never had the chance to swim. Her body temperature went down from 37 degrees to 0 degrees Celsius in minutes. She never felt anything. They were warm-blooded then, which made it easy for her to die. She was lucky. If she could have flown, she would have been even luckier. They relied on luck a lot.

Things aren't so much like that now.


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