Sunday, October 16, 2011

Flash Fiction: Making the Most of Things

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction precedes Tin Soldier and contains no spoilers. It is posted here for Sunday Scribblings.

Carina walked the paddock fence, deep in thought. She had visited her parents' high desert rancho for years, but now she was here for good, or at least until her husband came back from the war.

One of the donkeys trotted to the fence and Carina rubbed her velvety nose. "There will be no getting out of your checkups now. Soon you'll be wishing I'd go back to the city and take care of dogs and cats."

Carina sighed and leaned against the fence. In spite of the privations of the Resource Wars, she had enjoyed city life - not just the stores and entertainments, but the little niceties that made life easier. What wouldn't she give to be able to light a room at night with the flick of a wall switch? Would she ever be able to enjoy a shower again without having to hurry so as not to empty the rooftop tank?

She patted the donkey's nose again and continued her rounds. When her husband came home, it would be different. He was a doctor and between his medical skills and her veterinary prowess, they would do well in this valley. When the wars ended, no one would have to hide their solar panels in the basement and ration their battery-powered lights behind blackout curtains. The anti-hoarding laws would be lifted and she would be free to prosper.

In the meantime...she looked around the dusty property with its ribbon of creek coaxing living things out of desert dust. She was the only qualified veterinarian in this valley, and word was that the veterinarian on the nearby reservation was old. Carina would make out okay here and lay the groundwork for her husband's return.

The sun was low in the sky now, dipping below the mesas. In a mellow frame of mind, Carina started toward the house but stopped at the edge of an alfalfa field where her older sister stood brooding over the freshly-irrigated crop. "You could make a nice painting out of it, don't you think? All this green surrounded by desert."

Amalia looked at her through narrowed eyes. "I'll turn into a regular Georgia O'Keefe out here."

Carina suppressed a sigh. Although Amalia was in many ways the more practical sister, her interests had always been toward literature and the arts. Farm life was going to be hard for her. "People have always made art in the desert, even when it was just native people painting pots. We'll find things to do here. Maybe we can even make it fun."

"You'll find things to do. I'll just cope."

"It's better than the city, with the riots and rationing."

"Perhaps." Amalia jerked her head. "Dinner was almost ready when I came out here. Let's go before Mom and Dad worry."

"What's to worry about, out here in the country?" Carina tipped her head and looked at the deepening blue of the sky, where a few faint early stars twinkled.

Amalia worked a shrug into her movements as they walked the path toward the low adobe house. "As far as they're concerned, we might as well be kids again."

"I know. Still, it was best to come out here. Things are getting worse in the cities. At least out here we may have a chance."

"Of course."

She said it without conviction, but Carina knew better than to belabor the topic. They were nearly at the house and she thought the glow of candles and kerosene lanterns in the windows gave it a certain charm.

"What are you smiling about? I saw what Mom was cooking and it wasn't much."

Carina didn't care if dinner was a bowl of beans or an epicurean feast. This place may be her fallback and not her dream, but she was here now and she was going to make the best of it.


Belva Rae Staples said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Belva Rae Staples said...

I like this story and agree that it's a good plan to make the best of things where you are.

Dee Martin said...

I have not been here in ages and I think I have been missing some good things! Now I am curious - will have to wander around a bit...

Old Egg said...

I like the way that this writing is relaxed, rural, laid back I suppose and this allows the reader to picture the scene so well. I had a niggling feeling that kerosene might be hard to come by remembering the time my wife and I stayed in an old shack with few facilities miles from anywhere on the banks of the Murray river in Australia. We had no lighting so went to bed when it was dark!

Jae Rose said...

Great last line..great title..there's hope any desert can become home..Jae