World After

So I have finally finished my first book. I am going to post the first two chapters here as a preview.  Enjoy!

Chapter 1

            “Camille.  Camille, wake up.”  Napa was shaking my shoulder.  “You’re going to be late.”  I sat up and looked out the window.  The sky was just starting to lighten in color.

“Oh, shoot!” I said, jumping out of bed.  I put on my only pair of jeans, one of my three shirts, and one of my two pairs of knitted socks. Then I brushed my teeth and tried to decide what to do with my hair.  At first I pulled my brown hair back into a pony tail but then decided I wanted my birth mark hidden.  On the left side of my neck was an unusually shaped, round dark spot that always grabbed attention.  I didn’t want it distracting from the interview I was going to, so I decided to leave my hair down.

I found my mother in the kitchen, stirring something in a large silver pot over the fire.  I put my head over the pot and cautiously sniffed.  Sometimes what she was cooking didn’t smell so good.  I’d learned the hard way not to breathe in too deeply when sniffing what she was cooking.

“Breakfast?” she asked.  I nodded my head and grabbed one of the three bowls our family shared.  I sat at the table as she took the ladle and poured some of the soup into the bowl.  “We have a little bit of bread,” she told me.  “Would you like a piece?”

“Has everyone else already eaten?” I asked her.

She shook her head, her long, blonde hair swinging back and forth as she said, “No.  Luke hasn’t eaten yet.  Nor has your father.”

I looked at the bread on the small slab of counter space that we had.  There was just enough for my brother, Luke, and my father if I didn’t have any.  “No, thank you.  I’m fine.”

I quickly ate the soup.  I wasn’t sure what was in it, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to.  Plus, I was in a hurry.  I went to wash out the bowl, but my mom took it from me.  “I’ll wash it.  You need to go.”

“Thanks, Mother,” I said, quickly kissing her cheek.  I grabbed the only coat I owned and left the house.  It was a brisk October morning and after a few minutes, I was grateful I had decided to bring my coat.  It was a long walk to the next town and I would have been really cold without it.

As I walked along the dirt road, I contemplated what this town must have looked like before the destruction.  We lived in what used to be a large city, but it was long ago destroyed.  It’s now a very poor town.  Only the richest of the rich have cars or even any kind of technology.  Some might have stoves or something called microwave ovens-I had never seen one-but never both.  Most didn’t have either.  Walking along the dirt roads, I could see remnants of what used to be something called asphalt.  It’s what cars drove on.  However, now if anyone drove a car, they had to drive on dirt roads.

Before the city was destroyed, they had large buildings and everyone owned a car.  Nobody cared about anybody else’s life, only their own, or so we were told.  First, the plague came.  It devastated the population, killing millions in just a few weeks.  Then the earthquake hit.  It encompassed the entire Earth and most of the remaining population was killed.  What wasn’t killed had to live in the mountains for some time.  The earthquake had opened large cracks in the Earth’s crust.  Lava flowed out of the cracks.  Only the highest up places were safe.  Then, the ancients, what we call those people who survived the earthquake, took over. They came out of the mountains and caves and tried to salvage what they could.  The earthquake had devastated most of the buildings.  What hadn’t collapsed in the earthquake had been destroyed by the lava.

So the ancients built up what they could.  Then they discovered something.  The Earth’s crust had cracked so much, a new element had come out of the ground.  One that hadn’t been discovered before.  They called it Almega.  It affected the people in odd ways.  Some got what they called ‘super powers.’  They could fight really well, or they were really strong.  Some could jump so far it seemed as though they were flying, while others could run really fast.  There were a select few who could read minds and even less that could become invisible.  There were some who remained unaffected.  But most unique of all, there were also two who could read the future.  They were called oracles and because people tried to abuse the power of these oracles, after some time, they were hidden for their own protection.  They are rumored to still be there, alone with only each other as company, living a solitary life of immortality.

Some of the people who did receive powers thought that this should mean they should become rulers of the rest.  Others saw this as a chance to take what they wanted.  So war broke out among the people.  All of the ones who sought to use their powers for evil were destroyed, except for one.  And this was at a great cost to the numbers of the people.  Now they were even fewer, but they had won and the good prevailed.

The ancients took the last remaining man who would use his powers for evil and locked him up.  His name is Kelvin and his power is unique among any.  He is very strong, very good at fighting, and very smart.  And the new element made him invulnerable.  We know of no way to destroy him.  He was taken and hidden in a place that no one knows where.  The ancients also took all documents containing information to where he was hidden and burned them.  This is for our own protection.  They told no one where they had hid him, and now this secret is lost.

This is the history we are told as we go through school.  I only lasted until I was fourteen.  Then my father became too sick to work regularly and we needed somebody else who could earn an income.  Napa, my twin sister, and I are the oldest.  She isn’t great at hard labor, which is the easiest way for a fourteen-year old to earn money, so I volunteered to go work while she stayed in school.  Those with an education have better luck at getting a better job than those without, so once she completes school, she’ll be the one earning all of the money.

It was on this October morning, however, that I was on my way to talk to a prospective employer.  The job I was currently doing required long hours and wasn’t great pay.  It was just barely enough to provide for my family.  At the beginning, it wasn’t even that, and my family suffered greatly, but it was all I could do.  Now, nine years later, I had been promoted in pay, but the work was still difficult.  This new employer, if they hired me, would be much better.  We would have to move to the next town, but I would be getting better pay and working less hours.  It would be a much better situation.

I should probably also mention the powers within my family.  My father is very strong.  Well, at least he was before he got sick.  My mother can fight better than anyone I’ve ever met.  Luke inherited my mother’s ability to fight.  The baby, which my mother had just six months ago, has not shown any significant signs of a power yet.  I am sort of an anomaly.  I received both my mother’s ability to fight well and my father’s strength.  It’s not very common.  In fact it’s been pretty much unknown of, for a child to receive both of the parent’s abilities.  My sister, Napa, doesn’t have any powers, which isn’t uncommon.  My family has joked for years, though, that when my mother was still pregnant with us, I stole her abilities, so that I would have two and she would have none.

I reached the next town just as the sun started to come over the top of the mountains, about three hours after I’d woken up.  I walked through the middle of town where people were just starting to get up and going for the day.  As I arrived at the factory I was hoping to become employed for, someone opened the door and ran right into me.  I fell backwards onto my hind end and the papers he was carrying went all over.  “Oh, man, I’m sorry!!” he said, holding out a hand to help me up.  “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” I said, accepting his hand up.  Then I knelt to help him pick up his papers.

“Thanks,” he said, kneeling beside me.  After we picked up all of the papers, he held out his hand again, this time for me to shake.  “I’m Terrance, and I am not usually such a maniac.”

I chuckled and shook his hand.  “I’m Camille.”

“Camille…Camille.  Why does that sound familiar?” he muttered to himself.  “Oh!  I know.  You’re here for the job, right?”

“That would be me,” I answered.

“Great!  Just…” he looked around.  “Just wait right here.  I’ll be right back.”  Then he took off in a hurry in the direction I had just come from, not even giving me a chance to reply.  Unsure of what to do, I looked around for a place to sit.  I couldn’t see anything nearby, so I just sat on the grass by the door and waited.

I was just starting to wonder if Terrance was going to come back when he came around the corner, opposite from the direction he had left.  “Sorry that took so long!  I didn’t expect to be gone so long. Please, come right in!” he said, holding open the door to the factory.

“Uh…thanks,” I said.  “So, are you the one I’m supposed to talk to?”

We walked into the main room where there was a desk and some chairs, which kind of surprised me.  Most places were lucky to have a few chairs, let alone a desk.  After a moment he seemed to realize I’d asked him a question.

“Oh, no,” he said.  “I’m just the, uh, assistant.  You’ll be talking to Malachi.  He’s just not here yet.”

“Will he be here soon?”  I asked.

Terrance seemed really distracted as he didn’t seem to realize I had asked him another question.  He shook his head and then said, “Yeah.  He should be.  Just have a seat.”

I sat down in one of the chairs while Terrance opened a large book and began to copy from it onto a piece of paper.  I watched him for a minute.  He had black hair and olive-colored skin.  I couldn’t tell from where I sat but I’d noticed outside that his eyes were a very light green.  He was tall, probably taller than my father, and he wore clothes that were very nice.  They weren’t old and ratty like mine were.

I noticed some art on the wall across from me so I got up to look at it.  Art was very rare, usually only those who were talented at it owned any, and it was always their own.  It was a picture of a woman.  The view was of her back.  She was bent over something, I couldn’t tell what for sure-her head was in the way.  Her skin was sort of the same olive tone as Terrance’s.  She looked to be wearing a ballet dress that was off her shoulders, so they were bare.  On her feet were ballet shoes and her black hair was pulled back into a bun.  It was a lovely painting.  But I wondered where it came from.  Not very many people had the luxury of dancing these days.  In fact, I’d never known anyone who was able to dance.

I turned to go back to my chair to find Terrance watching me.  “Do you like it?” he asked.

“It’s very nice.  But where did it come from?  I haven’t ever known anyone who dances.”

“I painted it,” he answered, which took me by surprise.

“You’re very good,” I told him.  “Who is the woman in it?”

“Thank you,” he said, accepting my compliment graciously.  “The woman is my mother.  She was a dancer for most of my life.”

“Was?” I asked.

Terrance nodded.  “She died three years ago.”

“Oh,” I said.  “I’m so sorry.”

He shrugged.  “She was very sick.  It was expected.  It’s better now that she is no longer miserable and in pain.”

“How did she dance?”   I asked.  “Did her family have money?”  I again noticed his nice clothing.  If his family was rich, that could explain how he was able to own nicer clothes.

“Yes,” he nodded.  “Her father was the late Reginald Black.”  Reginald Black had been one of the most powerful men in our area for my entire life.  He had died just a year before.

“Reginald Black was your grandfather?” I asked him.

He nodded but didn’t have time to respond.  A man had just come through the door of the factory.  Terrance immediately stood.  “Mr. Olson, good to see you this morning.”  Mr. Olson walked to the desk and took some papers out of Terrance’s hands.  “Mr. Olson,” he said.  “This is Camille.  She is here about the job.”

Mr. Olson looked at me and then looked back at the papers in his hand.  “Come this way, Camille,” he said walking toward a doorway that was across the room.

I looked at Terrance and he mouthed, “Good luck.”  I smiled and followed Mr. Olson into the office he had just walked into.

“Camille, please have a seat,” he said as he motioned to one of the two chairs in the room.  This room also had a desk.  It even had a lamp.  I’d only ever seen one lamp before.  People usually just used candles or lanterns.  I suppose being the owner of this factory would make him rich enough.  He probably even owned a car.

I sat in the chair and waited for him to start speaking again.  He was looking at each of the pieces of paper and referring to a book every couple of seconds.  After waiting there for about five minutes, he finally said, “So you’re interested in this job, correct?”

“Yes, sir,” I responded, nodding.

“And you live in Suthton?” he said, looking at a clipboard with some papers on it.

“Yes, my family and I do.”

“Who all is in your family?” he asked.

I paused for a second.  “There’s my mother and father, my brothers Luke and Jackson, and my twin sister Napa, and myself.”

“Oh,” he said.  “You have a twin?”

“Yes, sir,” I answered again.

“And how would you get here every day?  Would you walk from Suthton?”

“No, sir,” I said, shaking my head.  “My family and I would move here to Compton.  We’ve already discussed this.”

“I see,” he said.  He then slipped on a pair of glasses-also an uncommon thing to own-and looked at the clipboard some more.  “And you’ve been working in a factory since you were fourteen?”

“Yes, I have.”

“And how old are you now?” Mr. Olson asked.

“I am twenty-three,” I told him.

He nodded and looked back at the clipboard.  “Why are you interested in this job?”

“Well,” I started.  “I have been working since I was fourteen, as you said.  My father was working, but got sick and has been in and out of work-and good health-ever since.  This job, with the extra pay, would be a miracle.  I know the workings of a factory, obviously, so I know I could do this job.”

“Okay,” he put the clipboard down and leaned on the desk.  “And what do you think about my assistant, Terrance?” he asked.

This question took me by surprise so I took a moment to respond.  “Well, he seems a little, uh, scatter-brained and stressed.  I don’t know if he’s unorganized or if he just has a lot to do.  But he seems really nice,” I ended pathetically.

Mr. Olson chuckled and took his glasses off.  “He is unorganized and scatter-brained.  And he does have a lot to do.  I put a lot on his plate.  But he is efficient at getting his job done.”

Not knowing what to say, I just nodded, waiting for him to speak again.  He watched me for a minute before asking, “Well, Camille, do you have any questions for me?”

“Um, no sir, Mr. Olson,” I said quite ineloquently.   “Except for do you know when you’re going to make a decision?”

“First of all, please, call me Malachi.  And second, I’m pretty sure I already have made up my mind.  But I will let you know by the end of the week,” he answered.

“Okay,” I responded, trying to hide my disappointment.  If he had already made up his mind, then I couldn’t see how it could be me getting the job.  The interview was short and it hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped.

“All right, well if you don’t have any questions for me, then that’s all I need from you.  I’m sure you can find your way out?” Malachi said.

“Yes, I can.  Thank you,” I said, standing.  He held out his hand and I shook it.

As I walked past Terrance’s desk he smiled and said, “Welcome to the company.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.

“Didn’t I hear him say he has already made up his mind?” Terrance asked.

“Well, yeah, but how did you…” I trailed off.

Terrance smiled.  “I have excellent hearing.”

“Oh,” I said.  “But even still, how do you know that means me?”

“Well, you’re the only one he has talked to about the job.”  I just stood there, dumbly, not knowing what to say.  “Have a pleasant walk home,” he said.

I simply nodded and left.  I hardly remember the walk home because I was so confused about what had just happened.  By the time I got there, it was well after noon and I was starving.  Luckily, there was still some of the breakfast soup left over so my mother gave me a bowl with some of it in it.

Since I didn’t have to go to work-I had taken the day off so that I could go to the interview-I told my mom I would help her around the house and in the backyard.  We had a small yard, just large enough to hold our garden and our goat.  We were lucky to have this much.  Most people had no yard.  Almost all of the time, we just ate what we grew.  Sometimes, however, we had extra and so we usually gave it to our neighbor, who had seven children and no husband.  She regularly had extra meat from being a butcher, so she would trade us our extra vegetables for her extra meat.  Our goat, which was a “Get-well” present from my father’s boss right after he’d gotten sick, gave us milk every day.

My mother sent me out to work in the garden.  We only had squash, pumpkins, and potatoes left.  Luckily my mother was a good enough cook she could make this combination taste delicious almost every time, so we wouldn’t get sick of it as quick.  I worked until it was dark and went inside to find my father and Napa at the table.  Jackson was in the high chair our neighbor had lent to us.  “Where’s Luke?” I asked my mother.

She shrugged.  “I guess he’s still working for Mrs. Miller.”  He had started working for a lady who lived on the other side of town, reading to her, cleaning for her, and taking care of her yard.  It didn’t pay very much money, but it made him feel better that he helped a little bit.

We all sat down to eat dinner, a rare treat of beef stew, and about halfway through Luke came home.  “Where have you been, honey?” my mother asked him.

He seemed really tired.  “Mrs. Miller made me stay later because I got there late,” he told her.

“Why did you get there late?” my father questioned.

He sighed and said, “My teacher made me stay after class.  There’s this kid who nobody likes and he wouldn’t leave me alone during class.  I was trying to pay attention but he kept hitting me.  I yelled at him to stop.  So my teacher made me stay after.”

“Did you tell your teacher he was hitting you?” my mother asked.

Luke shook his head.  “No.  I didn’t want to get him in trouble.  That would just make him hit me more.”

“Okay,” my mother said, quite reluctantly.  “At least you aren’t using your fighting abilities against him.  Just make sure he isn’t getting away with what he shouldn’t be.”  Luke nodded and sat down at the table to eat.

When everyone had eaten, I volunteered to wash the dishes.   Just as I’d finished, there was a knock on the door.  “I’ll get it,” I told my mother, but Luke beat me to it.  He opened the door to a man standing there.

“Is Camille here?” he asked.

“That’s me,” I said, coming forward.

“I have a message for you.”  He handed me a piece of paper in an envelope.

“Thanks.”  I opened the envelope and pulled out a piece of paper with just a few lines on it:

“Camille, I would like to thank you for meeting with me this morning.  Also, I want to be the first to congratulate you.  I have made my decision and would like it if you would come to work for me at the factory.  My messenger is awaiting your reply.  Sincerely, Malachi Olson”

I stared at the letter for a moment.  He said by the end of week, not by the end of the day.  Terrance had told me he had chosen me, but I didn’t really believe him.  After a moment the messenger cleared his throat, trying to get my attention.  “Oh, um…” I started.  “I guess tell him of course I’ll work for him and what do I need to do?”

The messenger pulled out another envelope and handed it to me.  I opened this one.  It, too, had just a few lines.

“Camille, I’m happy you’ll come.  Of course, I didn’t assume you would turn it down.  I wish for you to start on Monday.  I hope that will give you a sufficient amount of time to get everything in order so that you can move your family out to Compton.  If only you are able to come, I have a place you can stay until the rest of your family is able to come.  I have left some money with my messenger so that you can get everything in order.  I await your response.  –Malachi Olson”

I looked at the messenger and he handed me a third and final envelope.  “Have a good night,” he said walking away.

It took me a second to respond, but finally I said, “Thank you!  You too,” not sure that he’d hear it.  I closed the door and walked back into the kitchen.

“What is it, Camille?” Napa asked.

I sat at the table before announcing, “I got the job.”

My family all cheered.  “Well, it looks as though we’ll be moving to Compton,” my father said.  “When does he want you to start work?”

“On Monday,” I replied.  “Four days.”

“What?” Napa said.  “How can he expect us to be ready to move in four days?”

“He doesn’t.  He said that he has a place I can stay if we are unable to move by then,” I answered.  “But until then, I can help us get ready to go.  And that way, too, I can find a place for us to live out there.  It’ll give us plenty of time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

The next day, I went to find a messenger first thing in the morning.  I had written a note telling Mr. Olson that I would need his place to stay at and that I would be there on Sunday evening.  Now I just needed someone to take the note to him.  I went to the store that ran the mail system.  Mail came once a week, but if you needed a letter delivered in between then, you could usually hire a messenger.

I walked through the door and a bell rang.  I heard Mrs. Jensen, the lady who ran the mail store and also lived behind it, yell, “I’ll be with you in a minute!” from the back room so I waited.  After a few minutes, she came through a doorway with a cloth hanging over it, wiping her hands on a towel.  The other end of the towel was tucked into the narrow belt at her waist.  Her brown-grey hair was pulled back into a bun and she was wearing a white dress with red apples on it.

“That’s a lovely dress, Mrs. Jensen,” I told her.

“What a sweet thing to say, Camille.”  The wrinkles around her mouth and eyes showed when she smiled.  “Now, what can I do for you today?”

“I would like to hire a messenger to take a letter to Compton for me,” I answered.

“Oh,” she seemed surprised.  “Well, you know a messenger to Compton would be fairly expensive.”

“Yes, I know.  I have the money for it,” I responded and placed a couple andros on the counter top.  Andros were a form of money that usually only more wealthy people had.  They were worth quite a bit.

I saw the surprise in her face at the sight of the andros.  “All right then.  Well, do you have your letter ready?”

I nodded.  “I do.  Here it is.”  I took the envelope containing the letter out of the bag I had slung across my shoulder and handed it to Mrs. Jensen.

“And where would you like it sent to in Compton, my dear?” she asked me.

I smiled.  “My dear” was what she called everyone.  “To Mr. Malachi Olson at Compton Factory,” I answered her.  “And I need it there as soon as possible.”

“Is that where you went to meet with someone about a job?  Did you get the job?” she asked.

“Yes and yes.  Mr. Olson sent me a message yesterday evening telling me he wanted me to begin work on Monday.”

She took in a small gasp.  “Does that mean you and your family will be moving to Compton?”

“Yes,” I answered her.  “Although, for now it will be just me that is moving.  I will be looking for a place for us all to live while I’m there.”

“And where will you be staying?” she asked.

“Mr. Olson says he has a place I can stay if I need it.  That’s what this letter is about, which is why I need it there as soon as possible,” I replied.

“Well,” she said as she stamped the envelope.  “I will send it right away.  Is there anything else I can do for you, my dear?”

“No,” I shook my head.  “Just the letter.  Thank you.”

“Well of course.  And you make sure to come back and visit us lots, you hear?” she told me.

I smiled again.  “I will definitely try.  At the very least, I’ll be back here when it’s time for my family to move.  Have a good day, Mrs. Jensen.”

“You too, my dear,” she answered.

I left and began to walk home.  I had some change left over from purchasing a messenger so I decided to purchase a larger bag to carry my stuff in when I left for Compton.  I also wanted to get something nice for my mother.  She rarely got a break or anything that she wanted-not that she ever wanted much.  So I went to the food store where they usually had some kind of sweet treat.  They had something new called caramel.  You could buy five of them for a slent so I decided to get one for everybody in my family, excluding Jackson, of course.

Then I went to the store that was right next to the food store.  This store sold bags of all sizes.  I looked around for a few minutes and found a nice, large, brown bag.  It had some pockets on the outside and one pocket on the inside.  There was just enough money left over, so I bought it.

I got home to find my mother packing up the few things we had in our bathing room.  We had three towels to share between the family.  Napa and I usually shared one, Luke and Jackson one, and my mother and father shared the last one.

“What can I do to help?” I asked her.

“Well,” she said, pondering what would be best.  “Actually, would you mind checking the bread to see if it is done or not?  If it is, take it out of the fire.  Then I can give you something more useful to do.”

“I can do that,” I told her and went downstairs.  I figured I should wait until she could sit down for a minute to give her one of the caramels.  I went to the kitchen and checked the bread.  It was ready so I took our set of tongs and took it out of the fire and set it on the shelf that my mother always used to cool off whatever it was she had baked-which was almost always bread.

“It’s ready!” I hollered up the stairs to her.  “I took it out and put it on your cooling shelf!”

“Thank you, honey!  I’ll be down in a minute!” she yelled back.

While I waited, I decided to start working on packing the few belongings I had so that I would be ready to leave Sunday afternoon-just two days away.  I had my bedding, which I would leave until Sunday morning.  But I had a few other items that didn’t need waiting.  There was the picture Luke had drawn me when he was just four-nearly eight years, now-of him and me in our backyard playing with our new goat.  My dad had just gotten sick so Luke and I spent much more time together in the evening.  He had also drawn a picture for Napa.  It was of him and her in the field across town picking flowers for my mother.

Not that long ago, we were lucky enough to have a friend who was willing to take our picture as a family.  He gave each of us a copy.  I put that in my bag that I had used this morning to take the letter to be delivered.  I had an extra set of sheets that my mother had made.  She had made each of us a set and given them to us for our birthing days last year.  I put those in a larger bag that I had bought earlier along with the ratty, old bunny I used to play with as a child.  My aunt had given it to me when I was born and she gave a dog to Napa.  They were the only toys we had as children.  I used to fall to sleep with mine every night.  I called him Boony.

At the bottom of the trunk that I had my sheets and Boony in, I found something I had forgotten about a long time ago.  Napa, who was a very good artist, had made us each a book to color in when we were ten.  She had gotten a set of pencils that were colored, rather than the usual gray, for our birthday.  She took some paper from school and folded ten pieces in half.  Then, she took five pieces each and stuck them together by putting holes in the creases and tying some string through them.  On each page, she drew a different picture with one of her school pencils.  She shared her colored pencils with me so that we could color the pictures.

I looked through the book.  The cover of the book had a picture of her and I holding hands with Luke as a baby between us.  I had colored her hair red and blue.  For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why.  The next page was of mountains and a lake.  Each page had a scene that she had drawn very well.  Her book, aside from the coloring, matched mine.

Just as I put it in my bag, I heard my mother ask me to come downstairs.  “Sorry, I was just working on packing some things in my room,” I told her when I got downstairs.

“That’s probably more important then what I was going to have you do,” she said.  “Why don’t you keep doing that?”

“No,” I said.  “I’m done, anyway.  The only things left to pack are my bedding and clothes.”

“Oh, okay,” she said.  She was sitting at the table and looked exhausted, so I sat next to her.

“I have something for you,” I said taking the caramels out of my pocket.

“What’s this?  How did you get these?” she asked, taking one out of the bag.

I smiled.  “They are called caramels.  I had a little money left over from getting the messenger, so I thought a treat would be nice for everyone.”

She put it in her mouth.  “Mmm,” she said.  “That’s delicious.  How on earth do they make it?”

“I don’t know,” I answered.  Then I took one out of the bag and put it in my mouth.  It really was delicious.

“Is there enough for everyone?” she asked me.

“There’s one for each, except for Jackson.”

“I’m going to take one to your father.  This is just divine.”  She picked up the bag and went upstairs to her room.  My father had built our house before he and my mother married.  His parents had been able to save enough money that he and my aunt both could build their own houses.  That way we would always have a place to live.  When he built the house, he was smart enough to build it with three rooms.  It served us well.  Napa and I shared a room and Luke had his own room until the baby was old enough to sleep in a bed.  For now Jackson was in a crib in my parent’s room.

When my mother came back downstairs, she had a smile on her face.  “He loved it,” she told me.  “I haven’t seen him enjoy something that much in quite a while.”

“That’s very good,” I said.  “Mother, what are we going to do with the house?”  I hadn’t thought about it till just now.

“Well, your father and I talked about this last night.  We decided that since Mrs. Olberry’s three oldest children”-she was our neighbor who had seven kids-“are still living with her but are of a proper age to move, we’ll be renting the house out to them for a small price each month.  That way we won’t have to worry as much about how to pay for wherever we live in Compton.  It should help.”

“What a good idea!”  I felt better immediately.  At least, if we ever had need to move back to Suthton, we could probably come back to our house.

“Napa should be home any minute.  Luke is telling Mrs. Miller he won’t be able to work for her anymore.  We can give them their caramels when they get home,” my mother told me.  “For now, I need to get to work on dinner.”

“Do you want me to do it tonight?” I asked her.  I hadn’t ever really been able to help with dinner as I was always working.  I knew she could use a break.

“Oh, honey,” she said.  “You’re sweet, but I can do it myself.”

“No, Mom,” I rarely ever called her “Mom” or my father “Dad.”  But it came out every once in a while.  “I really want to make dinner.  You just sit at the table and tell me what to do.”

“Okay,” she said, sitting down.  By following her careful directions, I managed to make some chicken and noodle soup.  Luckily she had made the noodles earlier in the day.  I don’t think I could have managed that, even with her careful directions.  I’ve never been a great cook.

*       *       *       *       *

            The next two days passed by quickly, and before I knew it, it was Sunday afternoon and I was ready to leave.  I hadn’t ever spent a night away from my family and I was finding it difficult to leave. I wasn’t sure when I was going to see them again.  I knew they were coming to Compton, but as to when that was, I had no idea.

Napa and Luke were both crying.  My mother was trying to be strong so that Napa and Luke wouldn’t cry even harder, but of course she was struggling.  Unfortunately, my father was having a bad day, so he was in bed and I had already said goodbye to him.

My mother was holding Jackson who had no idea what was going on.  “Bye-bye, Jackson, I’ll see you later,” I said to him.  He waved to me with his little chubby hand and then stuck his fingers in his mouth, which was full of drool.  This made Napa cry even harder.

“Oh, it’ll be all right,” I told them.  I gave my mother and Luke a hug.  Then I put my hands on Napa’s shoulders.  “We’ll see each other real soon, okay, sis?”  She nodded her head unable to say anything, so I wrapped my arms around her and gave her a hug as well.  As I stepped back, she took my right pinkie finger with her right pinkie finger.  We hadn’t done this since we were both in school.

“I love you, sister,” she managed to whisper.

“I love you, too, sister,” I replied back.  Then I bent down, picked up my bag, and walked away, trying very hard not to cry.

I had barely gotten down the street when I heard Luke yell, “Camille, wait!”  He came running down the street with a paper in his hand.  When he got to me, he was breathing heavily.  “I made you something.  Don’t open it until you get there.”  He handed me the paper, wrapped his arms around my legs, and ran back home.

I put the paper in my bag and continued on.  It was well past dark by the time I arrived at the address I had received from Mr. Olson.  He hadn’t told me who lived there, just that it was someone that he was sure I would get along with and who was willing to put me up for an indefinite amount of time.  Almost immediately after I knocked, the door opened.  Standing before me was the last person I expected to see.  Terrance was there, looking somewhat anxious.  “Oh.  Hello, Terrance,” I said.

“I heard you from a mile away.  It’s hard to walk quietly on these roads, I know,” he said.

“Well,” I said.  “Especially for someone who has super hearing.”

“Very good point,” he replied.

I stood there awkwardly for a moment.  “So…is it you that I am staying with?” I finally asked him.  He hadn’t invited me in so I was still standing in the street.

So, that’s the preview. I know it’s kind of slow, but it gets better. I promise. And I’m working on other books all the time! If you’re interested, here is the link to buy it for your kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008EOXYTS Thanks everyone!

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One Response to World After

  1. dsaanderson says:

    After reading back through this, I have noticed one or two typos. Sorry about that! It must have happened when I switched the book file from my computer to my husband’s. Please, just try to ignore them. I edited this book myself, and it is sometimes hard to see past the mistakes when you are reading your own writing. Thanks again! I appreciate your support.

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