Recreational Reality


It all started, oh, about a year ago, come to think of it.
Sure, at first, everyone thought it was a bunch of crazy hoaxes, but bit by bit, there was no denying it.
The first event, or at least the first one in the news, was this million-year-old fossilized screwdriver.
Scientists were puzzled, something about a 'geologic nonconformity' or some fancy-sounding gibberish like that.
All the conspiracy theorists were talking about how it meant time travel was real, you get the picture.

Of course, then there was the time the lobster catch in Maine was off the charts.
They were practically crawling over the streets, there were so many of them.
And plenty of strange weather, the fog in the Sahara was particularly memorable.
Nobody knew what the heck to make of it, honestly.

And of the more impressive events, was the Cincinnati subway.
One day everyone wakes up and poof! It's all there, ready to use.
All modern and shiny like they'd been working on it for decades.
There never was one before, though, just plain materialized out of thin air.

But my favorite was that beautiful night.
Don't know exactly how, but for 24 hours, all around the globe, you could see the most amazing night sky.
Like every star up there, it was just - wow! Tons of lights, didn't matter.
Even downtown, it was like you were on the dark side of the moon.

Of course, you might be thinking, "hey! Great story, but when do you factor in?"
I guess I should say you have a good point there.
Me, well, it was another night, nothing strange so far, when I was walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Taking a vacation in SF for a few days, and decided to go for an early-morning jog.
It wasn't quite light out yet, on that Sunday morning, and I felt like I practically had the whole bridge to myself.
Wonderful view of the fog, at least.

However, turns out I was a lot less alone than I thought.
Because there she was - real as anything, floating in midair, painting the Golden Gate gold.
She looked like about 10, I'd say, and wearing a black dress, with matching straight black hair.
Skin the color gray, as if she'd walked right out of a black-and-white movie.
And eyes, that when you looked in them... you could see the universe.

"Hi there!" she said, as I approached.
"What in the heck..." I said. Admittedly not one of my finer conversational openers.
"Don't mind me, I'm just painting the bridge," she said, waving her brush in the air, as a whole pylon turned gold.
"In solid gold?" I said, although in retrospect it was probably just plated, but I didn't think to ask at the time.
"Yeah, why do they call it the 'Golden' Gate if it's this rusty brown color?" she said, looking confused.
"Well, I... don't really know," I said, "probably cheaper, for one."
"Oh, I suppose that makes sense," she said, going back to painting.

"Wait! So, you're the one who's been doing all the crazy stuff the last few months?" I said.
"Sure, why? Do you like them?" she said.
"I uh... suppose," I said, not having really ever thought about it quite that way before, "but why?"
"Just for fun!" she said, smiling, "why, are they causing problems?"

Now that was a tough one. Were they?
They sure caused a lot of hullabaloo, consternation, and more than a few kerfuffles.
But were they really bad?

"I'm not sure," I said, "I'm not really the person to ask. You should ask, like the president or something. I'm nobody."
"But... you're already here now," she said, looking thoughtful, "so I think you're as good as anyone else."
"Thanks," I said, not sure if it was a compliment or she was just nuts. Probably both.
"So, what do you think?" she said, "do you want me to stop?"
"Wait, so you're really going to ask me that?" I said, "what happens if I say yes?"
"Then I'll leave, and won't do anything more here," she said.

I froze.
This was potentially the decision of a lifetime, at least if she was telling the truth.
Here I have a cosmically-powerful and probably totally crazy girl, who's altering our world. For fun!
How can I say that's okay? On the other hand, she hasn't hurt anyone, or really done anything wrong...

I was stumped. Felt like I must've been there thinking for over an hour, although it was probably only a couple minutes.
But it really was a tough call, so I guess I should ask you - what do you think I should have said?

Yes, she should leave  •  No, she should stay

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Published on Recreational Reality by Metafictional Press. First Version 2017 November 12, Latest Version 2018 June 16.