Tales of an apocalypse – Part I “The Mother”

Today’s short story is part of a series inspired while writing my science fiction novel. It’s a chance for me to explore what other characters in my world would be doing both during and post apocalypse. Hope you enjoy my free short stories. Please share, tweet, and talk about my work. I look forward to your feedback.

Each of these stories is inspired by a song in my post apocalypse playlist. I recommend reading and listening.

Today’s story, The Mother, goes along with “Lament” on Rivers Arms by Balmorhea.

***

Rain on the windowGentle, late spring rainSoon school will be out

She moves slowly through the house, bending to pick up her sons sock, her daughters tablet chargerJust a morning filled with slow rain and a methodical woman who cleans the house incrementally as she makes her way upstairs to the kitchen, to the coffee and the radio.

At the table, she sits, the wide blueblack mug in hand, staring, without seeing, at the fridgePhotos and homework with stars, reminders and grocery listsA cat magnet purchased for her by her husband at a farmers marketIt has lost its smugly smiling head.

The noise of the day will intrude soon enoughThe news, bad and worseThe world spinning out of controlDisaster and doom and possibly even extinction.

But not yetNot until the coffee is drunk away, leaving only bitter aftertaste.

For now, she holds these last moments, as once she had held her daughter, cupping her tiny head crowned with downy, black fuzz and smelling of sweet love and infinite promiseSilence as precious as her sons slow breathing in the night when she stands in his doorway.

She sighs and blinks, squares her shoulders and faces the dayClick.  

The voices come to her, far off oracles muttering doom in tones filled with anger, panic, resignation and stiff professionalismThe reporters have determined to carry on and so must sheShe rises and returns to the rooms of her childrenShe sends them again into a world they believe will ever be as it has been.

Through the day, she travels the small orbit of her home, gathering things with a gravity all her ownTwo backpacksTwo first aid kitsTwo small bottles filled with iodine pillsTwo magnesium fire startersTwo compasses, the military ones with wire thumb loopsTwo filtering water bottles.

There are the other thingsThe things which cant be taken, but which are too precious to leaveThe photos and lettersThe computer full of tiny messages from senders now unreachableA closet full of clothes which still smell of her husband when she presses her face into them.

Be safe, love, and take care of our bratsSee you in a few months.”  And he got on the truck and he never came back.

When her children arrive home she will tell them they must goShe can travel with them part of the way, but in the end she must send them on aloneShe can only hope they are careful and brave and most of all, far, far luckier than she has ever been.

Today they will come homeHer daughter will sit on the swing on the back porch and cuddle with her boyfriendMaybe they will kiss and whisper secretsMaybe they will make unkeepable promises that they will never be parted.

Her son will watch her with his wide dark eyes, a little ghost of his father haunting her even as he gives her a reason to liveHe will lean his curly head against her shoulder (when did he get so tall?) and he will sigh and tell her it will be OKHes a liar, like his father.

Today is counted among the last days of a pregnant springEveryones waiting, anxious for the newsWill summer birth disaster or catastrophe

On the day the trucks roll down Main Street, thunderheads heap up in the west, rumbling their threats like a drunk getting ready to do violenceThe parents bring their children to the schoolSome cowards bring bags with them, deceiving their offspring until the last with promises.  

Were going on the next trucksWell see you in a few hours.”

She stands in the street and watches the trucksSome wont let their children goBetter to spend what time remains together.  

The mother cant do thisShe cant keep this chance from her children so she throws them after their fatherPerhaps she is weakPerhaps she cannot bear to watch them as the end comes.  

Its for the bestIts the only wayTheyll be chosenTheyll be saved.” 

But everyone knows its not trueThey scatter slowly, hating each other for everyones neighbor had a hand in this, yet they are desperate not to be alone.

In the empty house she waits, a ghost of herself, phantom of the life beforeShe waits.

5 thoughts on “Tales of an apocalypse – Part I “The Mother”

  1. I have two pieces – one I lost – a tiny, solid gold camel bought in the Khan el Khalili bazaar while we lived in Egypt. I loved it. It was my signature piece and represented these countries that I loved so much, until I lost it in one of our moves…so the second is an Ethiopian cross bought in the same bazaar.Great post – it’s funny how even “not jewelry” people like me still have their favorites

    Like

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