|Meredith "Mama" Hayes|
Mama Hayes was born as a small-town girl named Meredith who eventually married the kind young man who would come to be called Papa Hayes. The Hayeses’ secure life disintegrated, however, in the face of the States War. Robert went off to fight in the war, leaving Meredith to manage as best she could on her own.
Unlike many others, Robert Hayes survived the war. Unfortunately, it was not long after he returned to Meredith that another challenge confronted the couple. General Lamson introduced the Unity as an attempt to preserve the peace, but the effect of the Unity, at least in the Hayeses’ eyes, was to suppress liberty. Like Robert, Meredith disagreed with the Marking program, and she opposed the religious Inclusion even more. Despite their advancing age, Meredith and Robert chose Marklessness over forced conformity and ultimately ended up on Slog Row.
There Meredith and Robert saw an opportunity to help the Markless when the Fulmart went out of business. They volunteered to manage the store, doling out its goods to the Markless and preventing people from ransacking the place. Their managerial duties positioned them as leaders in the Markless community, and they decided to take that leadership a step further by starting a talk show on the Markless shortwave radio frequency. Combining Scripture reading with news, Meredith and Robert dedicated themselves to keeping the Markless in the New Chicago area in communication with Markless across the American Union. DOME became aware of their influence and arrested Meredith, but, unable to prove her guilt, DOME released her.
Keeping the less conscientious Markless from causing problems in the Fulmart proved more difficult than the technological complication of starting a radio program. Meredith and Robert found two solutions to the problem. The first was to keep a (highly illegal) shotgun handy. The second was to perform a nightly sweep of the Fulmart, checking for anyone who might be attempting to steal things or cause trouble. It was during one of those nightly sweeps that the Hayeses met the Dust. As was their custom with intruders, Meredith and Robert ordered them to leave. But the winter was a cold one, and after throwing the Dust out of the store about a dozen more times, the Hayeses realized that the Dust wanted no more than a warm place to sleep. Meredith and Robert made a deal with the Dust—if the kids would guard the store for the Hayeses at night, then they could stay. When the Hayeses later learned about Peck’s attempts to help at-risk flunkees, they became some of the Dust’s most valuable supporters.
Mama Hayes, accompanied by Papa, is patrolling the Fulmart as Blake, Eddie, and Tyler eat lunch with Rusty the morning after the playground disaster. The boys greet them and exchange a few brief words with Mama Hayes.
On the morning following Dane's kidnapping, Mama Hayes was walking down the street when she happened to observe DOME arresting several Markless girls, loudly boasting about their intentions to clear Slog Row. Not long afterward, Mama Hayes ran into Joanne. She explained what she had overheard and warned Jo that the Dust's activities were the pretext for the street cleaning.
“No one knows the whole River. We can’t risk that. But there are paths, all the same. And along them, there’s always a fisher who can point you in the right direction.”—Mama Hayes
Mama Hayes helps feed and shelter the Dust on the farm where she and Papa Hayes are serving as caretakers. When DOME raids the farm, Papa Hayes is killed, and Mama Hayes is arrested. DOME lacks the evidence to convict her, however, so DOME likely releases her sometime after the Dust had left Spokie for Beacon City.
Meredith is elderly by the time of her appearance in Swipe.
Meredith is a very gentle person in many ways, but she has a great deal of backbone, which she needs in order to manage a store in a community of such desperate people. Her concern for others influences her to position herself as one of the leaders in Spokie’s Markless community.
Family and RelationshipsEdit
Meredith had a close and loving relationship with her husband Robert, serving as his fellow Markless activist as well as his lifelong companion.
After the upheaval of the States War, coupled with a dozen years of Markless life, Meredith has learned to be highly adaptable. The switch from Slog Row to the farm would have disoriented many elderly people, but Meredith instead welcomed the chance to learn.