1. a difficult or intricate point, situation, plot, etc.

Elusive and aggravating.

That’s how many would describe the almost 40-year expedition for fresh water.

Numerous people thought it was futile, a waste of taxpayer dollars and peoples’ time.

At first there had been hope, a sort of crazed expectancy. After all, they were civilized. They had science on their side. What could they not accomplish?

Then, as time went on, the search became more akin to that of myths and fairytales, likened to Don Quixote on his quest, battling windmills. Many wanted to give up. But no one could deny the need for fresh water.

It felt impossible to cross that nodus.

Larita stood at her station, pondering the recent announcement. She had grown up in a world without fresh water. Everything about her life reminded her of the world’s desperate need for the one resource.

Like so many others, she worked at a factory making parts for filters that took the filth they had come to know as water to make it suitable for human use. Her plant was one of the biggest in the region. There were several factories, all providing parts to various filters that cleansed water in varying degrees. Her plant supplied parts to filters that provided water for agricultural use. It was an important factory, but not the most important. The factories that provided parts for filtering drinkable water were fewer, but better paid and more respectful of their workers.

But now that a fresh water supply had possibly been found, everything could change.

It was too early to think about giving up her job at the factory, especially now that she was going to be displaced from her home while they examined the water supply that they’d somehow missed in her own backyard. She wondered where they would move her and her family and for how long.

Larita moved quickly, assembling parts, but felt torn. Based on the announcement, replacement housing was on a first-come, first-served basis. If she arrived too late, she might ruin her family’s chances at decent living quarters. But if she finished her work too quickly, she would increase the number of her daily quota. Even the slightest increase in quota became a worker’s new baseline, the minimum of what they had to produce each day. The failure to meet quota resulted in a pay decrease. Larita had experienced two decreases already this year, once when her hand was broken and the second when she stayed home to look after her younger brother following his chemo treatment.

A flash of red caught Larita’s eye. The colorful jersey material stood out in the plant filled with workers clad in muted olive pants and black shirts. The woman seemed to float through the air, even in her high heels. Larita couldn’t remember anyone ever dressing like that, but this woman seemed to be comfortable as if the dress and heels were her daily uniform. The woman was beautiful and graceful. She seemed to be the exact opposite of Captain Trevor, whom she was following to his office.

Larita turned her attention back to her work. The small metal counter sped up, flipping its numbers as she moved more assembled parts onto the conveyor belt. She would have to hurry if she was going to meet her quota and make it home within the next couple of hours.


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