“We Were Safe” by Rebecca L. Monroe

Lincoln Theatre in Troy, Montana, A beige wooden building with a small marquee, under a blue sky with large fluffy clouds. Trees and mountains in the background.
Troy, Montana; RIchard Bauer

We were safe. 

You visited us in the summer, driving through on your way to somewhere more stylish, calling us backward. You wandered through our little hardware store with wrinkled noses, shopped in our grocery store, chuckling at the limited selection of organics. You overpopulated our rivers, leaving behind your trash. You also left your money, which we gladly took as we waved you on your way in the fall. 

You were nice enough, mostly. So were we, mostly.

We were safe.

You laughed at our small ways, our one gas station, our beat-up cars.

We were safe.

Then the virus came.

We stayed on the bottom of the affected numbers, following rules with a community attitude, helping each other, keeping the distance. We like each other but, well, we are so busy that big group gatherings aren’t part of our culture. The odd fair, the rodeo, could be postponed though it was painful to our economy. 

We were safe.

We shared toilet paper and sanitizer and walked our broad forest trails with six feet apart. As the world began to open again, we were proud. We’d done a good job. 

Then you came.

You, who want, now, what we have, you have come. 

You overflowed our recreation areas, clogging our highway, creating a hazard. You were obvious by your license plates.

That wasn’t enough.

Now you are trying to buy what we have. You are purchasing our lifestyle, sight unseen, planning to take what you didn’t have because of where you chose to live. Now that reality has opened your eyes, you understand our backwardness had a purpose, a value. Now you want it. You made a crowded mess of where you were and are bolting in droves to come to where you see it’s safe. 

Our numbers rise.

We watch, aghast, as you grab, paying well beyond anything we could ever pay, for things that will only stay valuable if YOU change. 

You won’t.

We know that.

We don’t object to you coming. 

We object to you coming to create what you are fleeing.

And you will.

You always do.  


Rebecca L. Monroe lives in Montana in a log cabin by a river and has been writing for most of her life. She has over 100 published stories and a book of short stories, Reaching Beyond, published by Bellowing Ark Press. Along with writing, she loves to read, take long walks with Dodge, her yellow Labrador retriever, and volunteer at the local animal shelter.