Look, people, I’m announcing a new rule. It’s going to seem harsh. But it’s necessary.”The word “harsh” got almost everyone’s attention.“We can’t have people sitting around all day playing Wii and watching DVDs. We need people to start working in the fields. So, here’s the thing: everyone age seven or older has to put in three days per week picking fruit or veggies. Then Albert’s going to work with the whole question of freezing stuff that can be frozen, or otherwise preserving stuff.”There was dead silence. And blank stares.“What I’m saying is, tomorrow we’ll have two school buses ready to go. They hold about fifty kids each and we need to have them mostly full because we’re going to pick some melons and it’s a lot of work.”More blank stares.“Okay, let me make this simple: get your brothers and sisters and friends and anyone over age seven and be in the square tomorrow morning at eight o’clock.”“But how about—?”“Just be there,” Sam said with less firmness than he’d intended. His frustration was draining away now, replaced by weariness and depression.“Just be there,” someone mimicked in a singsong voice.Sam closed his eyes, and for a moment he almost seemed to be asleep. Then he opened them again and managed a bleak smile. “Please. Be there,” he said quietly.He walked down the three steps and out of the church, knowing in his heart that few would answer his call.

~ Michael Grant