Lost to Fire

Prologue to the current novel I’m planning, so I probably will use the characters for daily prompts sometimes.


 

All the old cronies stories begin the same way. What was lost. How they survived. Where they were and what they were doing. But it always followed the same exact outline, like a rubric had been handed out by the government with rules. Rules to stay out of lock up, out of the camps, rules that kept everyone under the radar and out of the watching eyes. Knowing this, I can understand why the boring echoed tale is repeated every time someone younger than fifty pops the question.

“What happened?”

My mother is fifty-six, meaning that she was the young age of ‘almost-seven’ when this whole debacle came about. You would think that there was no way for her to remember something from so long ago and from when she was so young. However, I asked her that aforementioned question only once and hidden beneath that perfectly recanted drama was a sadness that furrowed her brows and interrupted the rhythmic drying of our beloved China.

“Grace,” she said, “Haven’t you heard that before?”

I was seated on a badly made stool, my father’s earlier handiwork, with one leg too short. I enjoyed watching her in the kitchen, both for the treats she sometimes slipped me and the soft lilting voice she sang in whilst working.

I blew out a long breath, having known she’d respond in the like. “Well, yeah, in school, and I asked BaBa and Pops, but they just told me the same thing.”

“Isn’t that enough?”

“Nope,” I popped my bottom lip on the ‘P’, watching her sigh and set the bowl down.

“Fine,” Mom said, reaching out and snapping her fingers. “But you might as well put your hands to use and help me while I tell you.”

I leapt up, barely containing my excitement, expecting her to tell me something new, but I was sorely disappointed.

“Fifty years ago,” she began, “a sickness sprung up in the Southern part of the Americas, it was thought to be transferred by bodily fluids, spit and the likes. But within a few weeks of the first cases, it had exploded, spanning all the continents and they had to try to quarantine it. It began as a discoloration of the fingers and toes, so they chose that as the signal. The disease was fatal, and when the body count started piling up, health societies and lots of companies tried to stop it.

“When they weren’t sure they could heal it in time, they decided to try and contain it and stop the spread. So all the negatively tested people were stuck on big navy ships and taken out into the sea. This quarantine lasted only a few months, but when they brought us back to land…”

Her hands stiffened in their cleaning again and I found myself mimicking her, stopping. “And?”

It was her eyes, the faraway look, same as BaBa and Pops had when they got to this part of the story. Mom reanimated slower than they did, waking from her own personal nightmare to smile at me. “It was over, the sickness gone and we were able to start living on the surface again.”

If only she’d told me the truth.

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