5. Storm Wall
“Thank you again,” the stranger said, his eyes following Canna’s motion as she straightened. His smile shrank back to an upwards turned arc and he touched the tips of his fingers to the brim of his hat.
Dally didn’t know what to say. He was going to miss having Reduke around. Canna leaned into his side and sniffled quietly.
The stranger didn’t wait for a reply. One moment he was facing the couple, the next he was facing the street. Reduke pranced the first few steps away with him and then bounded back to get a final scratching from Dally and Canna. The man waited, still and silent, until the dog returned to his side and they set off beside the road together.
Dally and Canna watched them go, the oddness of the pair somehow matching together well. Neighbors watched them go as well. Almost everyone had been looking outside when the wind started, and they’d all seen the strange man come to collect his odd dog. The further the man and dog walked away, the harder the gusts of wind became.
The TV beeped out the news station’s warning sound and a live update interrupted the droning interview. Dally and Canna rushed in, slamming and locking the door behind them, and perched back on the couch in front of the TV. A gust of wind hit the house as the woman reporting the weather excitedly announced that the storm had started moving again. Dally and Canna whooped and jumped up to first check the living area window was shuttered tightly and then ran to the sleeping room to make sure the shutters in there were tightly closed. They crouched together in the middle of the house after confirming that everything electronic was turned off, and listened with relief as the noise of the eye wall drew closer.
“What do you think of this?” Canna asked. She’d been studying the old coin the stranger had given them in the glow of a flashlight.
“I think I liked having Reduke around more,” Dally said. Canna chuckled and then sniffled. She tucked the old coin into her pants pocket and snuggled closer under Dally’s arm.
“Maybe we should get a puppy after the storm passes?” she asked, her question loud in a sudden quiet outside. It was something they’d never talked about before, but now seemed like a really good idea.
“I think we should get at least one,” he agreed. He squeezed her tighter for a moment and then smiled up at the ceiling when a particularly strong gust shook the house. Thunder filled any quiet that Canna may have used to reply.
They huddled together for the night, dozing between watching the flashes of lightning until the worst the storm had to offer passed by and they could finally sleep. The pounding rain and the leaking roof were the sounds they woke up to, the main body of the storm seeming to be moving at the same pace that the first half had gone over the islands. If it was going the same speed, it would be a full two days from the eye to the outside of the hurricane.
The electricity was down for the house, so the TV and lamps didn’t work, but the radio ran on batteries. The weather forecasters estimated that the storm would be clear of the islands by tomorrow evening, leaving days of rain and cloud in its wake. It was the best news Dally had heard in weeks! He and Canna celebrated with cooking and eating a meal that filled them both. They talked easily about the stranger and Reduke, the coin, and included adopting puppies into their plans for what to do after the storm passed.
Canna wrapped up the leftovers in wax paper, and Dally put the package into a plastic bag that he hung from the knob for the front door. It was still too windy right now, but later today he should be able to go outside and take the extra food to Ida’s house. He and Canna fell asleep listening to the radio and the weather experts who were being interviewed now, waking a few hours later to the sounds of the storm diminishing like a proper hurricane should after the eye has passed. The batteries on the radio had died.
Dally held the food tightly and delivered it to his friend’s family as Canna replaced the batteries and found the spare flashlight. Dally was soaked through to the skin before he’d even reached the street on his way to Ida’s house. Ida barely cracked the door, only enough to accept the bag, and then Dally was on his way home again. Movement against the wind caught his attention.
Tucked behind garbage caught on a stone, two small, dark shapes huddled. They moved out of sync with the gusts. Dally unbuttoned the top half of his shirt and knelt in the mud, lifting the two puppies one at a time into his shirt. They were crying and shivering, their short fur soaked and spiked out with mud. He hurried home, cradling them one in each arm.
Canna tended to the puppies as Dally cleaned up, dried off and changed clothes. One puppy was brown and the other was grey, and both were drying to be almost impossibly fuzzy and soft. She had them wrapped together in a blanket in her lap, both of them yipping and playful, their sweet brown eyes crinkling at the corners as they smiled up at her. Dally joined her on the floor and took over crushing the rice and fish together. They laughed as the pups poured out of the blanket to wiggle around and around the bowl of food, spilling just as much as they lapped up.
“Should we make posters?” Canna asked. Both young dogs stopped eating and looked up at her, their soft eyes shifting to stare at Dally, their faces the same blunted triangle shape as Reduke’s.
Dally picked up the silver coin from the table and turned it to look at one side and then the other. He sighed. “I don’t think we’re meant to make posters,” he said.
Canna smiled at the coin and petted each of the puppies. “I think our neighbors won’t like our new puppies. They didn’t like Reduke.”
“We talked last year about moving off the island. Maybe we should now?”
Dally and Canna both smiled at the thought. There would be lots of work doing repairs wherever the hurricane made landfall on the mainland. That would be as good a place to start new as anywhere else might be. She leaned forward over the puppies and food bowl and kissed Dally, the moment interrupted by the pounding of helicopters. They broke off to smile and each cuddle a puppy. Tomorrow, supplies would return to the islands, and they could join the mass of people applying to leave. With their new dogs.
Hello! Hope you're having a happy Friday!
I know this is a universal thing for all parents, but I have to say it anyway: multiple kids living in the same house, cared for by the same adult(s), should not be able to be sick at the same time. The adult(s) caring for the kids should also not be capable of catching the same virus at the same time that the kids are still sick. (This is a summary of my week, by the way.) An achy fever hit our house. The 8-year-old got back to school on Wednesday with just some lingering sniffles, I've got lingering sniffles, but the 5-year-old... I have to know, should 5-year-olds be physically capable of producing this much snot? Is this really a thing? Because, honestly, this much snot trying to escape a head this small all at once is simply mean, Universe.
Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done. I did finish an editing round yesterday that I'm really happy about. One of my stories couldn't decide if it was a novelette or a short, and it had a really slow, dragging beginning that I couldn't figure out how to fix for the longest time. Yesterday morning the way to fix it popped into my head. The new starting point deleted 4k words off the beginning! I finished the needed rewriting in the remaining 12k words to fit in a few points previously woven into those 4k useless words, but hacking off the whole front made the story's pacing so much better. Now I've got a 13k word story to happily hack-and-slash in the next round of edits; this is definitely a short story now, not a novelette. Yay! Time to get the word count down :D
I hope you have a great weekend!
4. Changing Winds
“Did you hear the wind gust?” Dally asked, swinging the door closed with one hand and picking up the remote for the TV in the other. He and Canna perched on the couch, watching the news intently to see if there was any report of a change in the storm, hopeful for any change. The live interview with some weather expert continued, uninterrupted.
Another gust of wind slammed into the house. Dally and Canna smiled at each other. Dally had never believed he could be so excited for a hurricane eye wall to hit the islands as he was in that moment. They both scratched Reduke and included it in the hug they gave each other. The interview on the TV droned on, the conversation the same one as every day for the past week, only the interviewee ever changed.
A third gust hit the house and continued blowing fast enough to make the corners of the roof whistle. Dally couldn’t tell if the air was charged by what had to be approaching lightning, or if it was just his and Canna’s excitement. They released from the hug as the wind dropped off and stared at the TV expectantly, but the interview just kept going.
“I’ll check outside,” Dally said in a rush. He spun up to his feet and reached for the door.
Someone outside the door knocked politely. Dally glanced back at Canna and she only shrugged, as surprised as he was. Reduke was staring at the door as hard as it had stared at the eye wall before coming inside.
Dally straightened his shirt and opened the door. A tall, white-skinned, slim man in a crisply white suit was standing there, complete with a grey – or maybe brown? – shirt that looked like silk, a shining cane topped with a ball of smooth silver, and a formal white hat tilted slightly to his right crowned his slickly combed silver hair. He’d been looking toward the direction the gusts had been coming from but snapped to face Dally as soon as the door opened. He smiled widely, but the older appearance of his face didn’t crinkle. It almost looked like he was… stretched into a smile. The way his bottom jaw dropped slightly open exposed all of his teeth.
“Hello,” he said smoothly. His voice had a breathy quality to it. Inside, Reduke yipped like a puppy. The stranger’s smile remained in place as his head snapped into a new position, allowing him to look further into the house than just where Dally was standing. “I saw this at the dock. I believe you found my… dog?” the stranger continued. The movements of his arms were dramatic, as if he was performing a magical act by taking a folded paper from the inside pocket of his suit coat. His long fingers gracefully unfolded one of the posters that Dally and Canna had made, presenting it to be seen and smiling his large smile at Canna.
“Can you… can you provide any identifiers not included in the poster?” Dally asked hesitantly, stepping into the strange man’s line of sight. The stranger’s focus snapped to Dally, his smile dimming to an upturned arc of closed lips as he scanned the poster for the provided information.
“Her name is Reduke, as noted on one of her tags. The other tag used to have my”– he paused, eyes glancing up as if he was looking for the words he meant to say next on the door frame –“contact information, but it wore off a few years ago and I’ve forgotten to replace it. Her collar is plain leather, brown, and she loves having her left ear scratched in a delicious way that makes her back leg shake.”
Canna let go of Reduke’s collar and the beast of a mutt bounded in one leap over the couch to dance and wiggle like a small pup around the strange man’s legs. He jerked down to a squat and hugged the dog. Canna came around the couch laughing at Reduke’s antics, and then wiped her eyes as she smiled at the dog snuggling with the stranger. His impeccable suit was still perfectly creased when he stood up. He folded the poster and tucked it away into his suit coat pocket again, and then held out his hand toward Dally.
“Well, this is just superb! Thank you so much. I was terribly worried about her,” the stranger said. His fingers felt as smooth as the silk shirt he was wearing looked when Dally shook his hand.
“She’s a great dog,” Dally said.
“We really enjoyed having her here,” Canna added, hugging one arm around Dally and using the other hand to scratch at Reduke’s ear. The stranger’s stare snapped down to look at how Canna was patting the dog – and the dog’s obvious enjoyment of it – and then slowly lifted in a full assessment of Dally and Canna. His wide smile with too many teeth spread across his face after a moment of blank staring.
“She is wonderful,” he agreed. His head snapped forward to look at the dog, and then back up to look at Dally and Canna, his smile fixed in place. He finally released Dally’s hand. “I want to thank you for taking such good care of her. A reward,” he said. He blinked each time his head snapped to change which person of the couple he was looking at. Dally noticed his eyes were a grey shade of blue when the stranger looked at him, but when he looked at Canna his eyes were… Dally decided to think of it as not blue.
The stranger tossed his cane from one hand to the other, his stare taking on a distance as if he was looking over a large crowd, and then reached into his pants pocket with his now empty hand. With a flourish, he held up a shiny, silver-colored disk pinched between his thumb and index finger, the rest of his fingers splayed widely. It was an old fashioned coin, polished to a shine.
“For your trouble, and your kindness,” he said, holding up the coin for them to see. “It’s silver. I’m afraid it’s all I have on me of any value. I hope it’s enough.” As he was speaking, his hand twisted and the coin danced over the backs of his fingers before flipping into the air, flashing as it spun, and landing heavily in the center of the stranger’s palm. Dally and Canna both chuckled at the trick.
“No. She was no trouble, so that’s too –”
“But I insist,” the stranger interrupted Canna’s polite protest, his wide smile growing impossibly wider. Reduke yipped and licked the man’s outstretched hand and then nuzzled her nose into Canna’s stomach.
Canna bent over and planted a kiss on the top of the dog’s head. “For you, I’ll take the reward.” Canna held the dog’s face as she spoke to her. Reduke yipped and her tail wagged. Dally accepted the coin.
You know those days where you just want to burn everything down and walk away? But then you know if you do that, all the good stuff burns down too and there's way more good stuff than crap? Why is there not a way of doing controlled burns? Forestry does that in parks to limit exposure of areas to invasive pests and to create breaks intended to aid in fighting forest fires during fire seasons.
Or did I just describe 'adulting' in an overly-simplified way?
I propose a new definition for Successful Adulting: skillfully managing metaphorical controlled burns to eliminate the garbage parts of your life in order to maintain the well-being and diversity of the healthy areas.
In case you're wondering, yes actually, the crap things going on in my world are kinda stressful lately lol. The annoying part that led to the internal screaming and rage-y / burn-y thoughts this morning is that I can't tell if the crap things are causing the anxiety spike leading to insomnia, or if insomnia is causing the anxiety spike that's making the crap things look so bad. It's a fun cycle... not. But the idea of controlled burns to get the crap stuff out of my world led to the imaginary movie-poster image of my extra-petite and mostly mild therapist as the hero wielding a flame-thrower against my anxiety monsters under the banner I'M A PROFESSIONAL, so that provided a giggle for me. :)
My crap aside, are you doing all right? Eating enough? Sleeping okay? Got out of bed and didn't stab anyone with office scissors ? Successful adulting sticker achieved for today if you can answer "yes" to at least two of these questions.
Writing accountability update... meh. This week I got When it's Not Right up in Wattpad. After that, a quick update to my website – book news! Check out my Home page if you're interested – and then I jumped into editing on short stories because I like posting stories in my Blog, but not the first drafts. ;) Hope you have a good weekend!
3. One Gust
Since the storm had stopped, Reduke spent its days outside and nights indoors with Canna and Dally. Canna laughed hard when it tried to get onto their little couch with them a couple nights ago, and that was the first time Dally and Canna saw Reduke smiling. Its lips pulled back just enough to show hints of impressive teeth and its eyes crinkled at the outside corners. Dally and Canna had both cooed at how cute and dopey the big dog looked and then laughed together as they tried to fit all three of them onto seating made for two people.
Dally had gotten everything put away and just sat down to watch TV and wait for Canna when her keys rattled in the door. Dally turned the TV back off and met her coming in. Well, trying to come in. Reduke was shoving her this way and that, excited as a puppy, as she laughingly attempted to get around it to put the first water jug down. Putting the jug on the floor got her face on level with Reduke and she was instantly drowning in slobbery kisses. She hugged the mutt and then straightened up to wipe her face on her sleeve and say hello to Dally. The two of them got her car unloaded as Reduke dutifully stood guard, eying the street in all directions seemingly at once. A car that had followed Canna and then parked nearby – but didn’t belong to a neighbor – quickly drove away after Reduke stared at the two men inside for a full minute.
Canna scratched Reduke’s chin and congratulated it for keeping her safe once they were done getting the water into the house. The big dog followed them inside, already impatiently waiting for them to finish making and having supper so that they could all sit together on the little couch. They still didn’t know what Reduke ate, but none of the local pets (or their owners) were missing, so Canna and Dally assumed whatever it did eat was mostly harmless.
“You wouldn’t believe the waves today,” Canna said, setting her plate on the table before sitting down to eat with Dally. “Some of the rogue waves were even moving the big cruise ship enough to see the tilt from shore. It’s worse than last week.”
“What about the flooding?” Dally asked, between bites of fish.
“It’s getting worse,” she answered through a mouthful of rice before swallowing. “The water level is half-way as high as the storm surge.”
“In line today, I heard that the relief soldiers moved to the few good farms. That they’re protecting the new crops, now.”
“That’s ridiculous. There are no more crops,” Canna stated, frowning across the table at him.
“Maybe. But, still, there were only two soldiers when I got rations today.”
“There were seven at the dock. I heard in line there that yesterday someone tried to incite a mob for fresh water. Guns were drawn to calm down the problem people.”
“Tourists?” Dally asked, expecting the nod of agreement that Canna gave him.
Reduke whined quietly and rested its head on the table half-way between them. They each smiled at it and reached to scratch its ears at the same time. The big dog’s mouth lifted into a wolfy grin and its eyes crinkled happily in the corners. Reduke had a way of easing the tension and worry out of the room.
Dally and Canna finished their small meal quickly. While Canna was tidying their kitchen, Dally packed half the leftover rice into wax paper.
“Come on, Reduke,” Dally invited, patting his leg. Reduke cocked its head to one side, questioning the change in routine. “Rations are small this week. Ida’s family is still big,” Dally explained to the dog.
Reduke came outside and immediately walked over to roll in the garden. Dally laughed at the antics and continued on two houses away to politely knock on the door. Ida had been a friend since childhood, and his house was one of the lucky ones which hadn’t been too badly damaged in the looting. Their food had been well hidden, but some of it had been found and stolen, leaving both parents and the four children short on rations every week.
Ida was carrying the baby when he opened the door enough to see out. Dally held up the package of cooked rice. Ida looked around Dally’s legs and then over his shoulders out into the street to confirm Reduke wasn’t nearby before opening the door any further. Ida’s kids loved the mutt, but Ida and his wife definitely did not.
“Rice. Made fresh an hour ago,” Dally said.
“Thanks.” Ida took the package. The baby lunged forward and reached chubby hands for it. Dally smiled at the sudden juggling act Ida was expertly performing. The rice package stayed closed and away from the grasping fingers, and Ida was still holding both the baby and the rice perfectly balanced in a new position. “You and Canna are next,” Ida warned, looking pointedly at his youngest son and then at Dally.
“We’re trying, so I guess we’ll find out,” Dally said with a smile. They weren’t trying, but he knew from many conversations over the years that this was the response he was supposed to give. “Have a good night,” he added, turning to leave.
A burst of wind fluttered leaves and flattened littered paper against the nearest surfaces. The gust tumbled a few toys in yards, making things jingle and thump as if they were being played with. Dally and Ida both turned hopefully into the wind and stared toward the storm’s eye wall.
“Does it look any closer to you?” Ida asked after a moment.
Dally spun to compare the distances between where the gust had come from and where it was going. “No. But the news will tell us. I should get home.”
As if to reinforce the statement, Reduke barked once and distant thunder replied like an echo. It was standing on full alert in the middle of Dally and Canna’s garden, staring in the direction the wind had originated from. Ida shuddered after a glance at the dog, then stepped inside and closed the door. Dally hurried home.
“Hey there, Reduke. You okay?” Dally asked the dog. Reduke’s stiff posture folded into worried pacing around Dally’s legs as they walked to the front door. It whined quietly when Dally scrubbed gently at its ears and then trotted the few paces to Canna to include her in the tight steps as soon as Dally opened the door.
“What happened?” she asked both the dog and Dally.
Hello! The kids are back in school and order has been restored! At least, to approximately the same extent there was order during the first half of this school year. It's a semi-regular sleeping and eating schedule. That's about as close to order as my world is usually capable of getting lol.
I skipped on the "new year, new start, new whatever..." stuff this year. A lot of people find positive motivation in it, but this year I'm too tired so I'm letting myself be tired. The plan is to get through the needed grind from what the coming months will throw at us, based on what the previous months have thrown at us, and then steal moments to breathe when there are breaks. My annoyingly buoyant optimism has been taking a kicking and right now hoping hurts.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still annoyingly optimistic about the grind eventually having breaks (and even an end one day), I just need a rest from packing around the hope. Yes, it's depression weighing heavily to press the hopeful feelings into a bruising hard spot. And yes, it's completely situational – as in once this situation closes things will change and new struggles / opportunities will come up. My "right now" is tired, though, so I'm giving myself space to feel crappy about feeling crappy. I'll get to a point of being annoyed at living inside a crappy head space and find ways to kick myself out of it eventually because therapy helps and I have some healthy-for-me coping tools now; one of which is to let myself feel how I'm feeling without judging the emotion. So... the emotion for now is being allowed to be felt even though I have judgingly labeled it "crappy". (Having a tool and using it are two different things, okay? Lol)
I've mostly been working on editing this week. I dove back into that sci-fi novella, which is out with a few beta readers at the moment so I want to get re-familiar with the story in case of questions and/or feedback, and I'm prepping my romance novellas for adding to Wattpad. I'm still slowly posting my short stories into Wattpad and I like the platform so far. It seemed like a good idea to add When it's Not Right and When it's Not Perfect into the mix, too. The paperbacks and ebooks will continue to be for sale in my Etsy. :)
The outside temperatures have now dropped into the Canadian winter range of "it's how cold?!" and staying inside to work on editing and the sci-fi novella's cover design is my preferred place to be.
We trade extremely cold weeks every winter for a plethora of poisonous reptiles, amphibians, insects and arachnids. So, as much as I do not enjoy these weeks where the air is so cold it makes my skin hurt, I do like our blandly populated springs, summers, and autumns. This extra-cold blast we're currently having can also kill off a bunch of hibernating mosquitoes if the weather stays extra-cold for about two weeks, which would be awesome as seasons change. Less mosquitoes would definitely make for a better spring. Gotta find the positives, right? Hope you have a good weekend!
Dally didn’t really feel the miracle the news said was occurring for the islands. He did believe they were relatively safe at the moment. The aggressive part of the storm was stalled over open water and these small portions of inhabited land were trapped in the eye. Looking at satellite images collected over the past two weeks, the storm expanded and shrank as if it was synchronized with the tides. Canna had sped up the footage and run it on an endless loop to make the whole thing throb like a heartbeat.
Because being trapped inside an immobile hurricane wasn’t creepy enough.
The real miracle was, in Dally’s opinion, the three cruise liners that had been chased here by the storm. The islands would have run out of safe drinking water days after the initial landfall without the ships’ desalination plants working to give everyone fresh water. Boats of all shapes and sizes ferried empty containers to the ships and fresh water back to the docks.
The down side were the thousands of extra people the ships had brought. These little islands had never been prepared for this amount of demand, and the resources of the ships hadn’t lasted as long as they needed to. The news anchors all estimated that the worst of the storm would pass the islands in as little as a day once it started moving again. There was no precedent in recorded history for the storm stopping, though, so exactly when it would start moving couldn’t be predicted. Some news stations had started comparing the storm to the Red Spot on Jupiter.
Dally walked over to the truck and opened the door with one hand, the box of supplies balanced between his knee, the side of the truck, and his other hand. He shoved the supplies into the middle of the bench seat and then climbed in beside it. The supply run only been four and a half hours this week, but the supplies he’d gotten were half what they’d been able to have last week. Add to that, angry and frightened tourists had trampled the farms at higher elevations the same day the storm had gotten stuck – as if they’d never been only hungry before – and now there wasn’t any way to extend rations safely. They didn’t have nearly enough local crops to attempt supplementing rations because the storm surge had flooded out most of the farms at lower elevations.
Dally shook his head and started the truck. It would be a true miracle when the storm started moving again. Until then… he needed to get home.
Their house was easy to find. Their roof had been damaged by the first hit of the hurricane, and trees around all the houses along this street had been knocked over. Luckily, they hadn’t been hit by any of the falling trees. None of the storm damage made their house stand out as much as the lack of other damage did. Other houses were dealing with broken windows and smashed-in doors, the small gardens which had looked nice now were trampled or uprooted. Dally and Canna’s garden was still in a mess, just not because of looters. It was a mess because Reduke liked to roll in the flowers.
Not seeing it in the front, Dally assumed Reduke was around the back of the house, probably sleeping in the shade. The beast of a mutt had shown up when the storm made landfall. Limping, soaked, shivering and exhausted, Canna had seen it through the windows as she was shuttering them and then gone out in the wind and rain to coax it inside. They’d taken pictures and made missing animal posters, thinking maybe the giant dog had fled from one of the cruise ships, but nobody from the ships or the islands came to claim it after the storm stopped and the better weather let them hand the posters out.
The collar it wore was plain leather. The tags and buckle on the collar were rusted steel. One tag had a few remaining flecks of the paint that had once covered it, but nothing else, and the other tag had the dog’s name stamped into it in big letters: REDUKE. Dally and Canna assumed that was its name, anyway. The dog answered to it. They still couldn’t tell if it was male or female, so just called Reduke ‘it’ and didn’t bother after that.
“Hello, Reduke!” Dally called as he was climbing out of the truck. A few moments later the familiar, dark shape sauntered out from the shadows between houses. Reduke was yawning wide and stretching its long legs with each step.
Dally and Canna both agreed that they couldn’t tell if Reduke was brown or grey, so they just settled on calling its short hair ‘dark’. The same with its eyes; in some light they were yellow and in others… Dally decided to think of it as ‘not yellow’. Reduke was a strange, big dog that looked mostly like a Great Dane in the pictures online. Those dogs had big rectangles for heads, though, and Reduke’s head was more of a long triangle with a squared off nose. Great Danes didn’t seem to have bone structures as thick as Reduke’s, either, and their fur was described as short and stiff instead of the silken softness of Reduke’s coat.
Reduke leaned on Dally’s hip with a contented groan and smiled up at Dally, stopping the man from reaching back into the truck for the box of supplies. Dally laughed and scrubbed his fingers into the loose skin around the scruff of its neck, digging under the collar in the way that made Reduke’s eyes close and back leg twitch. The big dog huffed and shook when the scratches ended, stepping away to do so and freeing Dally to reach back into the truck and get the supplies.
“Come on, Reduke,” Dally invited as he swung the truck door closed with his elbow. “Let’s get this stuff inside so we can put it away.”
Dally could feel eyes on him as he walked to his front door. People on this street didn’t like Reduke much. Considering the damages to their houses when the looters had come through, he wouldn’t like to every day see the reason someone else’s house had been saved, either.
Reduke also just had a strange effect on people. Adults got quieter around it, and kids either tried to ride it and hang on it or would cry and cling tighter to their parents. Nobody ever petted Reduke without it specifically walking up to them (except small kids that ran up to it, they could pet it as much as they wanted because it would lie down for them to climb on). Canna’s oversized heart made her go out into the storm and pull the dog into the house. It hadn’t wanted to come at first, shying away from her, but then let her coax it into the kitchen to dry off and warm up.
The limp had healed up with rest and fresh water, but the dog didn’t eat anything they tried to give it. After the worst of the storm front passed, four days after Canna brought it inside, they’d let it out and expected not to see it again. Later that day, Reduke had come back and barked to be let in. Its belly was full, if the quiet belches it was doing while napping could be believed, and it had stayed with them for the rest of the day. The next morning, they’d let it out again and a few hours later it had come back, full and sleepy.
Welcome to 2020! New year, new hopes, and all that. :)
The kids having change-in-routine nightmares has continued for this past week, meaning sleep has been disrupted to the point of any schedule for it being laughable. Cue up the band in my head for a cringe-worthy solo in anxiety... It's been a rough week. The nasty voice took advantage of having a foggy head to yell inside of. I know it's just a nasty voice, but the words still have impact. I wasn't able to get much writing done, which never helps as writing is something that shushes the nasty voice, but I got to some editing in one of my novellas and I have a couple of scenes imagined for the big manuscript. I'm looking forward to the regular routine of the school schedule almost as much as I'd been looking forward to the two week break lol.
Hopefully the first few days of 2020 have been treating you well. Have a great weekend!
1. Supply Run
The shelves and bins he could see were either empty or the few remaining products on them were in various stages of rotten. A line of people still waiting to come in and be disappointed made a tail from the soldiers and security guards at the front doors all the way around the corner and onto the next block. Only one person was allowed in the store at a time. Dally stepped inside and looked around, the view surprisingly even worse than last week.
“Well. Ain’t this just superb,” Dally muttered. The nearest security guard frowned at him. Probably he should’ve kept those words inside his head. As with most of what he did say, hindsight for what had been verbalized provided him with the knowledge that he should have remained silent.
Ah well. Nothing for it now. He just had to hope Canna would have good luck at the dock.
He hurried past the worst of the smells in the produce section, finding an onion that wasn’t too moldy to use. Surprisingly, along the otherwise empty rows of products, some flour bags small enough to fit in the rations box he’d been given were still unspoiled, hidden at the back of a high top shelf, and after taking two there was still room for the three boxes of sugar cubes from the back of another top. He moved a bag of flour and a box of sugar cubes to the front of the next shelf down. The woman who’d been in line behind him wouldn’t be able to reach these things due to her age and her cane. At least this way he knew, when her turn came to be inside the store, she’d have something more to find than the given rations at the exit.
He hurried past the dairy section – it wasn’t somewhere to spend time and everyone knew, now, not to open the magnetically sealed doors. Going past the pharmacy section, the abundance of toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes gave him pause so he grabbed four of each. Then stopped at the shelf for soaps and got a brick of six bars, each individually wrapped, and two bottles of shampoo. It was still weird going past the broken shelves for baby stuff. People had literally torn them apart out of frustration once the shelves were empty.
The butcher’s counter had a hand written list of available meats and cuts taped to the front of the glass display and a tired butcher behind it. There were only three items left on the list that weren’t crossed out yet.
“Two cuts of beef, please?” Dally asked.
She squinted at the ration card pinned to his shirt to confirm he was allowed to have two cuts and then nodded and walked into the windowed room behind the deli counter. Dally watched her as he waited for the meat. There wasn’t really anything else to do and, after the first round of riots, he still didn’t trust putting things down when whatever he’d been holding wasn’t in his line of sight. She wrapped the cuts into waxed, brown paper and wrote ‘beef’ on each package. He won half a smile when he held up the box for her to toss the packages into.
“Swish! Three points,” he said, winking at her, when the first package landed in the middle of his scavenged supplies. She was still chuckling as she tossed the second one. “Six to nothing! You win!”
She pumped her fist once. “Yes!” she said once her elbow was level with her waist.
They shared a smile and he turned away to finish up his supply run through the bakery. He’d said the right thing that time and didn’t want to ruin the moment by adding anything else.
The words ‘supply run’ got stuck in his mind. Three weeks ago (before the storm warning) he would have called it a trip for groceries, or a run to the market, or stopping off at the store. Today it was a supply run. The words got stuck in his thoughts because that terminology sounded normal. Then again, today’s normal was a four hour wait in line for the few groceries he would leave with and he didn’t even want to think about how late Canna would be getting home after going for water and – hopefully – fish.
The baker handed him the required loaf ration based on the card pinned to his shirt. Two loaves; one for him and one for Canna. Then he gave Dally the usual gift package wrapped up in whatever paper the store had once used for flowers. The gift was sometimes a cake, but usually bland muffins. It was a good thought, though, and appreciated. The baker seemed extra careful with his gift package this week, so Dally hoped for cake.
Canned goods were handed out by the soldier just before exiting. Dally’s ration card said that he could have two cans of hard beans, four cans of fruit, and four cans of vegetables. The soldier filled the card, and then lifted the two loaves of bread to hide a single, sealed cup of fruit salad under them.
“We found the case yesterday,” the soldier said with a smile. “You’re lucky, this is the last one.”
“Oh,” Dally said, his eyebrows pulling the middle of his forehead down.
“You allergic?” the soldier asked.
“No, not me. I just… behind me in the line was an old woman and then a mom and little girl. I think the little girl would like the fruit cup more than me.”
The soldier beamed a smile and took out the fruit cup, tucking it away where he’d first gotten it from.
“I think you just made someone’s day a lot more special,” the soldier said.
“I hope at least a little better,” Dally replied with a shrug.
The guards at the store’s exit confirmed his supplies, marked his ration card with today’s date and the date he’d be allowed to come back to the store, and then he was able to leave. The sunshine felt weird considering the gloom of the store and the quiet of the people on the street outside. Having bright, quiet days after the storm was weird.
After the storm might be a bit of exaggeration, Dally thought as he looked toward the horizon in all directions. The walls of wind and rain rose up to meet angry clouds towering high above any buildings in view. Since the storm had become strangely stationary two and a half weeks ago, only two emergency helicopters had managed to get through to the islands trapped in the middle. That was where the soldiers had come from. Weather all over the world was affected, now. Nobody could explain what was going on.
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!