Part 3 of 3
“No hard feelings.
I know that faith in our fellow man isn’t the easiest thing to come by now.”
It turned out that
these three were the only ones left in the town. Everyone else either died, or
packed up and headed West were there were rumors of grass and trees. It turned
out that the town did in fact have a well; it was cleverly concealed in a
crumbled shack. A deal was quickly made: all the water Michael and I could
drink and carry for two cans of beans and a rabbit that I came across the
previous day. The little guy must have been burrowed deep when the sky
shattered and somehow managed to stay alive since then. The deal was more than
fair and as the sun began to set, Mrs. Kelly invited me to stay with them for
Normally, I would
have politely refused, you didn’t make it long in the wasteland if you started
accepting sleepover invitations from strangers. Sandy, however, was more than
insistent and even told me I could sleep in her bed and she would gladly take
the floor. Annabel earnestly seconded the motion and before I knew it there was
an old fashioned girl’s sleepover planned.
quarters was a midsize house in the center of town. Its shambled and
dilapidated exterior would turn away anyone. It looked as though any second it
would end its own misery and collapse in on itself. The inside however, was the
complete opposite and it was clear the girls had been very intentional into
making it into a home. It was one large room with a bed in the back corner,
stove, table and chairs in the middle, and Sandy had even taken it upon herself
to decorate. There were drawings placed strategically around the room of
flowers, animals and flowing rivers. Mrs. Kelly explained that Sandy wasn’t old
enough to actually have seen those things but she had done a great job just by
listening to her descriptions.
We sat down to a
simple meal of dried peas and beans provided by Mrs. Kelly and I contributed
the last of my hard bread and licorice. After a few minutes of pleading from
the girls, Mrs. Kelly even allowed Michael to enter the room, “But only because
it is a special occasion.”
The girls were
elated and helped me take off his saddle, feed and brush him. Michael’s tail
swished back and forth as he welcomed the attention from his new-found friends.
Within a few hours
it was time for bed. The two girls obediently changed into their nightgowns and
Annabel gave Michael a kiss on the nose before her scrawny legs jumped into bed
with her sister.
“Are you going to
say prayers with us tonight?” Annabel asked me.
I had taken off my
hat and riding jacket and was sitting at the table running my hand through my
long brown hair. “Oh, well, I’m not that good at saying prayers.”
In the blink of an
eye Sandy sprung from her bed and ran towards me, grabbing my hands in her own
she smiled, “It’s Ok I’m good at prayers. Mrs. Kelly taught me. Just close your
Before I had a
chance to consider why I’d obey someone who still occasionally wet the bed, my
“Dear God,” she
began. “Thank you for my sister and Mrs. Kelly and our new friend. Oh, and
Michael. Thank you for keeping them safe and bringing them to us. Thank you
that Mrs. Kelly let them stay and didn’t shoot them. Please tell my mommy and
daddy I said, ‘hi’. Please bring back grass and trees and animals so my sister
and I can see them. Amen!”
When she was done
she grabbed me around the neck, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “Be good
tonight and maybe Mrs. Kelly will let you stay.”
With that Sandy and
Annabel were tucked into bed by Mrs. Kelly and the two sisters held each other
as they fell asleep.
Mrs. Kelly picked
up her rifle and sat in one of two rocking chairs that faced the front window.
She motioned for me to follow and soon we both sat slowly swaying back and
forth looking into the night sky. The disaster had intensified the heat and
brightness of the sky both day and night. During the day the sun scorched the
earth and over night the moon shone twice as bright as it had before.
“I’m sorry if
Sandy’s prayer made you uncomfortable. She can be a bit to eager at times.”
“No, not at all.
I’m just not used to giving thanks at a time like this.”
I looked at her as
if she were joking, “I mean praying. There’s no one out there listening. If
there ever was a God, he abandoned this world a long time ago. I mean hope,
faith?” I told her about the crazy man and his band of followers I had run into
earlier that day.
“Oh, I see,” she
nodded her head and gave me a smile that lit up her leathery wrinkled face.
“May I tell you a story?”
“I was living in
this town when the First Wave hit. My husband was wounded badly when he tried
to stop looters from taking our food. It wasn’t soon after that that the entire
town decided to move on. Some were looking for food, some heard rumors that the
event hadn’t affected the West nearly as bad, others just mindlessly walked out
of town and into the wasteland giving up all hope. Soon my husband and I were
the only ones left and within a few days I was the only one left.”
She paused here
and looked into my eyes, making sure I was not only hearing her, but I was
understanding her. Content with what she found, she continued, “I lost all hope.
I abandoned any faith I had and was considering whether to hang or shoot myself
when I heard crying. I opened the front door and there they were. Annabel
finally dropped from exhaustion at my doorstep. I don’t know where they came
from or how Annabel, at such a young age, had managed to carry her baby sister,
but there they were. Since then I’ve taken care of them and they’ve taken care
of me. They gave me a reason to live, a reason to hope, and a reason to believe
that things will get better. They have pushed me to be the woman that I need to
be and there is no room for doubt in my mind, when I needed help the most it
My eyes drifted
over to Michael’s large figure on the wood floor. The girls had snuck out of
their bed and were both half-leaning on, half-hugging his large form as all
three of them slept. And for the first time in years I thought to myself,
“Maybe I’m not so alone after all.”