After the Storm: Part Thirty-Six

Photo by Sir Gawain
Photo by Sir Gawain

Just tuning in? Start here.

Daphne sat on the bench next to the fire and looked around the small, crowded living space. Paige snored in the rocking chair at the corner of the room. No matter how often Daphne tried to get the older woman to move in closer to the fire she always drifted back to what must be the coldest corner of the main room.

“He’ll see me,” Paige muttered the last time Daphne woke her up to try yet again. “Best to stay out of his way.” Daphne sighed and tucked another blanket around Paige’s feet before going to check on the children. They were still recovering from a summer of disease and near-starvation, and both of them were far too skinny and listless for their ages. They were actually curled up on Mariposa’s bed sleeping now, although soon they’d need to be woken up for dinner.

Hopefully a good harvest would change that. Mariposa had spent a good part of the day tilling the garden and preparing it for the upcoming planting season, and Daphne could hear tiny splashes coming from the bedroom. They normally didn’t waste much water this time of year, but the poor girl had been caked with dust when she walked in the front door a little while ago. Even Daphne’s inherent thriftiness couldn’t begrudge the idea of having a clean face and hands at dinner after a long, sweaty day of work.

Lemon climbed up on the bench to rest his head and paws on her lap. Apple and Ambrosia still glared at him every time he wandered too close to the wooden crates that Isaac installed in a rectangular formation on the east side of the room. They still weren’t pleased with their exuberant new roommate, but having a place to hide from the dog made him less of a threat. If only Daphne could convince Lemon to stop sitting in the centre of the room and staring at them as he wagged his tail. He was content to cuddle her for now, but she knew that he’d go back to old habits as soon as she stood up to set the table.

“They might learn to like you if you didn’t try so hard to make them part of your pack,” she said out loud. The dog whined and looked up at her.

“Well, you could at least give it a try!” It had been a long time since she’d carried on both halves of a conversation. As nice as it was to have her sons living with her again, Daphne missed the solitude of her old life. There was something to be said for quietly stewing in your own thoughts sometimes, and that was hard to do while looking after two small children and an old, forgetful woman in someone else’s house.

Daphne patted Lemon’s head absentmindedly as she stirred the beans and watched the tea pot. It should start boiling soon, and she wanted to have hot tea ready for everyone as soon as they were ready to eat. Normally she would have checked the tablet again for new messages, but whatever was powering it had slowly faded away. Now she couldn’t get it to turn on no matter what part of it she touched. The device had been tucked away in the bedroom for safekeeping until they met someone who knew what went wrong.

She heard the sound of boots stomping. Ephraim and Isaac must be finished with their chores by now. Maybe they’d even found something to add to the small pot of beans bubbling over the fire. In better days it would have fed half their number, but Daphne was grateful that they had anything at all. With autumn in full swing things were bound to get better soon.

Mariposa’s house wasn’t exactly home, but it would do for now.

…To be continued in January 2014!

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