What do children today look up to? What do they hope to be? I remember seeing Ms. Atom flying across the comic pages and dreaming of being just like her – invincible, fighting evil. I looked up to the government and the civil servants who improved life for the rest of us.

Today, they have what – rusted-through lunchboxes featuring cartoon characters they’ll never know? Monuments to dead heroes nobody can remember because the books have all been used for cooking fires? Do they even think about the future, how they’ll end up surviving?

I suppose they don’t have the luxury of thinking about what they’ll be when they grow up, too focused on making it to adulthood in the first place. I don’t blame them, the fear is well-founded, but it seems like the world lost more than just society when the bombs dropped, we lost our children, and with them hope for the future.

Oh I hear the radio broadcasts, same as everyone. Promises of a new government, a vast resettlement, clean water, or whatever else they’re peddling week by week. People look up to the Minutemen, hold them as some sort of pedestal-worthy heroes. Let me tell you, they’re just as scared as the people they claim to be protecting. They found themselves in a lucky spot and were smart enough to capitalize on it. Who doesn’t want a little fame, even nowadays?

I don’t like introspective thoughts like “when did my dreams die too?” But some nights, with nothing on the air but static and radiation, laying back against a burned-out car and appreciating what little I do have, I wonder when it was that I finally accepted that my old life was over, wouldn’t ever be coming back.

I wonder if things can ever really change for the better, out here.