Subscribe to The Horn Book

Diverted: A Bostonian dystopia

Diverted cover, largeIt was dawn. It was time for the Waiting.

Three hundred thousand were Waiting. Some waited for Buses, some waited for Trains that would become Buses. Some tried different routes, and some gave up hope and called Ubers. But many remained.

Most remembered the days before The Big One. The days when roads had lanes in two directions. The days when, with a glance at a watch and perhaps a touch of an app, they could predict when their journeys would end. But remembering didn’t help. Remembering didn’t raise the wind chill, or lower the mountains so you could see what was coming, or add room to the Snow Farms. Remembering did nothing to end The Waiting. The Powers talked about solutions, but they were no match for the most powerful entity, a being that wasn’t even human: President Snow.

But if you Waited long enough, the Arrival would come, almost surely. And if it did, you stood a chance. You might be left on the curb, one of the Unfit — it was all in the luck of where you lived along the route — but you might move on to the next phase: the Squeezing. Recorded voices gave reminders: “Please move toward the back to make room for others.” Sometimes, you were the Chosen One: you could move a few inches and give another person room. (Sometimes, you didn’t even know it, because you had headphones on.)

You might turn on the others being Squeezed, or you might band together to try to guess where you were if the windows were clouded. Whatever the details of the voyage, you would arrive — eventually. But the story wouldn’t end there, for the end of the day would provide a sequel: The Return.

Originally posted at Shoshana’s blog Walk the Ridgepole.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.



  1. Hilarious!

  2. Thanks, Shara!

  3. I love this! All the more for having survived many a New England snowstorm. Nothing helps more than humor and fresh perspective — and you gave us a good dose of both!

  4. Thank you, T.A.B.!

  5. Having lived in Boston for 15 years, survived the blizzard of ’78, then trapped visiting the city just as it was being shut down during the hurricane in 2011 – I can relate. (Nothing like watching trees flatten at the Pru’s atrium while marooned tourists reenact Night of the Living Dead in the deserted mall.)

    Fun essay. Brings back interesting memories of survival and doubt and all things related to waiting endlessly for a T that is stuck somewhere down the line.

  6. Thank you, Christine! (It sounds like there’s a novel in there!)

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind