In the beginning, it was different. There was happiness and the people lived their lives and took what came to them with courage and understanding.

Their houses were small, but it didn't matter. They were always filled with the sounds of children running, laughing…shuffles of feet, and murmurs of conversations that passed through the walls. And the houses were homes that radiated love and life. Each house was different, like the people that lived inside of it. Some were white, some were blue, and some were bright purple. Some houses had long, winding stairs, while others had beautiful balconies. It was true that the people did not always feel content with their houses, but deep down, they loved them very much.

The people had no expensive cars, or telephones, or computers, but it didn’t matter. Others were all around them. Being together was easy, it was only natural to meet and talk, and exchange advice. Good friends stayed close and visited often. Children grew up surrounded by other children. When people felt lonely, all they had to do was to simply go next door, or just take a walk outside. The air was clean, and there were many parks and places to go to spend time together.

And so the people lived like this for a very long time. They were happy and their lives were busy, but untroubled.

But, at some point, things began to change. Like a ripple of water, something passed amongst the people. They felt a growing sense of discontent with they way they lived. "Our houses are too small," some said, "we need to have more room!" said others. At first, only a few moved away to build new houses that were better and bigger than before. They constructed enormous buildings that resembled forts more than they did houses. Soon, many people saw these, and thought that they were much better than what they had. More and more of these houses were built…and very soon, the building developments sprawled over hundreds of miles. Because there was so much demand for the houses, there was no time to make them different or unique. They all looked the same; brown, tan, boring colors combined with endless yards of perfectly manicured lawns.

Greed implanted itself into the minds of the people. Driven by the desire to own more, they moved further and further away from each other, settling in those monstrous houses with millions of rooms.

Now, the lives of the people became much different than before. They had large, expensive, houses with gigantic back yards and clear blue pools. But there was a problem. Those houses, with their wonderful backyards, took up a lot of room. The distance between them was very large, and it was difficult to get anywhere. And so, the people bought large cars to drive between their large houses. Time passed, and there arose another problem. The people began to think that driving to see each other in their cars was too much of a hassle. Oh, but they managed to solved this problem, too. They bought lots of fancy telephones and computers to keep in touch. It was all very nice. It worked. Everyone had a big house, people still talked to each other, and everyone was happy.

The people lived like this for a long, long time. They forgot about their old lives, with the colorful houses, the ever-present company of others, and the parks. Their world was better now, they thought. Filled with all the possible shades of gray and brow…almost completely devoid of the sound of human voices, unaltered by satellite transmission...people lived. They did not notice how the fumes from their big enormous cars filled the sky with dark clouds of pollution. They did not notice how they became fatter, and fatter, because they spent all of their time either driving, or sitting at home. They did not notice that the air they breathed made them sick. They did not notice how the constant loneliness they felt weighed down upon their hearts, and corroded their minds.

One day, a little girl wandered out form her backyard. She was lonely. Her friends lived far away, and she saw them very, very rarely because her parents told her that it took too long to drive to their house. As she breathed the air around her, she felt it burn her nose. She didn't go outside very often.

Nearby, there was a hill, and the little girl thought that perhaps the air would be better up on the top. And so, wheezing a bit, because it hurt her to breathe, she began to crawl up. The hill was big, so it took the little girl a while to get to the top. When she did, she straightened up, carefully, and looked around. The hill rose above the houses, and it was possible to see everything from there. The little girl turned around, slowly. Miles and miles of land covered in identical boring houses spread out below her. A thick smog hung above the houses, and the sky appeared to be a greenish-brown color. Not a soul was outside, and there was no wind. She felt as though she was the only one alive.

And so, the little girl sat down right there, on top of that hill, and began to cry.

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