Author : Jennifer C. Brown a.k.a Laieanna

I was twelve when the world went mad. Mom saw it coming well before then and she prepared, stocking up on goods and drilling into me the importance of keeping secret our supply. At first the epidemic seemed to spread slowly, starting in third world countries, but soon after it grew at an incredible rate. The states, last to fall, were affected within three months time.

“Keep it hidden,” Mom used to whisper in my ear. I’d sit on her big lap, lay my head on her pillow breasts, and watch movies she had stashed under the floorboards of our trailer. “Never let them look at you closely and keep the warehouse to yourself. I’m trusting you, girl.”

And that’s how it was. Mom stayed in our secluded trailer. I continued school till I was fourteen. It was hard keeping the teachers and nurses from poking at me, but mom had an excuse ready for everything. When she died, I quit going.

She was hard to bury. It took me three days to drag her out of the trailer and far enough that the critters wouldn’t bother me. Later, I went to town with what money I had. Joggers, walkers, and bikers crowded the streets. Kids jump roped in parks and threw balls over traffic lights. Even the old were out. Every one of them fit and trim, barely breathing hard. Why she had to die in spring, I’ll never know. I drew my winter coat closer to my body. There were plenty of stares, but I still felt secure inside its linings.

I only had enough money for two bottles of bleach. I tried running back home, just to get away, but pain in my side stopped me time and again. When concerned people tried coming to help, I’d run again, just letting the air burn my lungs.

The smell and sorrow wrecked me. Tears never stopped rolling down my cheeks. It hurt to clean, my body tired. It hurt to see, eyes stinging from the chemicals. It hurt to think. I missed Mom. Fed up with trying, I took the secret key and headed for the warehouse. There was still plenty of food in the trailer, but I wanted to see what Mom died for.

After walking two hours, I could smell the sweetness wafting from the warehouse. Inside, I turned on the light and basked in the beauty. Mom had separated everything mainly by taste. Twinkies and ding dongs adorned most shelves. An assortment of Little Debbies lay in bins for surprise pickings. That world of health food and exercise didn’t know what they had when they started shutting down the factories. Mom did and she wasn’t letting them take that away from us. I pulled my shirt away from my stomach, scrunching up the hole that had worn through with the years and scooped at least fifteen twinkies from the shelf. Spreading my snacks over the floor, I sat, planning to eat till I puked.

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