For those following my life on twitter – Yes, moving in winter is dumb. Dan’s tooth is one piece again. The eldest is safely ensconced in his new digs. And, without the eldest here our internet should be marginally faster. Huzzah!
One of my stories was accepted by FrostFire Worlds for their August ’18 publication! I wrote this one during my attempt at 2017’s Write Like You’re Alive. The goal was to write a story or poem a day for 30 days. I failed at that, but this was one of the stories that emerged when I put my butt in the chair. Butt in chair works, folks!
I’ve also applied for a writing position with someone I admire, so please keep your fingers crossed for me. This would be a wonderful opportunity to grow. If you’ve never put together a portfolio of your work, I recommend it as an exercise. I learned quite a bit from doing that alone!
There’s a generative writing course online by One Story I’m going to try as a way to break out of January’s frozen hold on my word count. Cold weather is a time of filling the well for me, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading and learning while snuggled under covers with hot coffee, but this class would be a lovely way to get moving again.
Okay, let’s get to the serial. As always, bear in mind this is a first draft. There are no subplots or layers yet. Just me telling myself (and you) the story. Let’s see what sticks! If you need to get caught up, there is a Table of Contents.
Trust The Plan
When morning light flooded the room, Sharna’s eyes drifted open and then over to the pots. Slender green stalks heavy with pea pods and peppers sagged to the left and right.
“Jay!” Sharna rolled onto her side before sitting up. The hard floor did nothing good for her back and knees, and she stretched before calling to the other Dawn members.
While they struggled to wake, she plucked a pod. Her thumb slit open the tough skin along the seam. Inside three plump peas nestled, smooth and gleaming. When they popped under her teeth, she laughed.
Dell joined her, followed by Marnie who crawled on all fours, and Jay rubbing at his arm as if it had fallen asleep. Sharna couldn’t help but think the vegetables in these pots might save their lives today. The trio looked like death woken by a cold wind.
“We should save some of the peas. We can sprout them if something goes wrong,” said Jay around a mouthful. He’d shoved an entire pea pod into his mouth. Marnie and Dell had done the same, and Marnie had a pepper in each hand.
They looked at Sharna as if she had sprouted wings and was singing an aria. “Thank you. Thank you so much. I can’t —” Marnie buried her face in Dell’s chest without finishing her thoughts. Dell nodded, “She can’t tell you how much this means, but I can. This means our lives.”
A knock sounded distantly as if someone were pounding on the door to the neighbor’s house. All three Dawn members stopped chewing and looked around the room with wild eyes.
Jay swallowed before he hissed, “The Culling! I’d forgotten.”
Dell and Marnie were already picking up the pots.
“No, no, no,” Dell repeated over and over as she pulled peppers off and shoved them into her pockets.
Marnie bent the stalks to fit the pots inside a small cabinet under the sink where it was dark and dank. “We have to, Dell. If they find these, it ruins everything. We have to save time to harvest the peas.”
“I know, but what if they die in there? I’m still so hungry.”
Marnie turned and kissed her on the cheek. “I know. Trust the plan.” She shut the door and stood, wiping her hands on her pants as Jay shooed them into the back room.
“Hide somewhere. I don’t want them to have a choice. It’ll just be me and her. If they see you, it might ruin their choosing.” Dell took Marnie’s hand and they disappeared into the shadows.
Jay beckoned Sharna to the window. A line of women was forming, some standing tall and proud, others being dragged by an elbow or unconscious and being carried. Soldiers, who didn’t appear to Sharna’s eye to be nearly as emaciated as her new friends, were in groups of three knocking at doors or guarding the line.
A knock rattled the door frame. Sharna’s heart beat hard, hard enough she had trouble swallowing. She hadn’t expected to be so frightened.
Jay walked to the door and put his hand on the lock. “Ready?”
Sharna closed her eyes and took a slow breath through her nose. Melody would eat these assholes for breakfast.
(thanks for reading!)
A reminder to pick up a copy of my poetry chapbook, Terracotta Pomegranate.
And if you’ve already read it, thank you. I’m grateful.