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Monday, June 21, 2010

White Pickups, Episode 40


From the diary of Ben Cho, fall 2011, condensed:

We planted spinach and turnips, and a few stored onions that started sprouting. We gathered trailer-loads of walnuts, and a few buckets of hickory and pecans. One of our field guides told us how to get the bitterness out of oak acorns — put them in a cloth bag and leave them in running water for a few days — but we don’t trust nearby creeks to be running clean just yet, so we’ll let that food source pass this year. It’s clear we won’t starve though, even if the gardens fail; we just have to let things grow and know what to look for. Johnny Latimer says he’s going to start hunting, it would be nice to have some fresh meat. Feral dogs are becoming a problem, but the fence keeps the most dangerous ones out and everyone is armed when they go outside.

Water is a tougher nut. We can count on numerous rain barrels scavenged from garden centers, at least through the winter, but rainfall in a Georgia summer is anything but reliable. So many things we need water for: drinking, cooking, sterilizing (by boiling), washing, irrigation, and some of us still find ourselves trying the faucets from time to time. We decided that the creeks might be all right for irrigation and washing by spring, and we’ll start drinking from them (with filtering) this summer if we have to. We covered the swimming pool for the winter, but we’ll probably use it as a swimming pool at least one more year.

A lot of us have been having weird dreams lately. Everyone’s an amateur psychologist…

Part III
Dream Warfare

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Cody hit the bedroom wall, bounced back flailing. “Uh!” Moonlight made his red robe a dark spot among shadows.

“Cody, are you all right?”

He paused a moment. “Uh. Um… yeah.”

“You must have been having a dream,” Sondra said, sitting up and wrapping her robe around herself. “You remember it?”

“Yeah.” He sat down, reached under the blanket, found her hand. “It was… weird. We got married and we were driving to Florida for our honeymoon. The weird part was, Kelly was in the back seat, I don’t know why. She said, ‘Look, we’re taking off,’ and we raised up off the ground… but the car started turning into… you know. You were yelling at me to stop, stop, and I was standing on the brakes. Then I said, ‘We’ll have to jump,’ and I opened the door and jumped out. I hit the pavement — I even felt it — and was hoping you got out too. Did I just run into the wall?”

“Yeah, you did. You okay?”

“I guess so.” He felt himself over, then shivered and climbed back under the covers. They wrapped themselves around each other. “It’s cold out of bed. I guess when winter really gets here, we’ll have to move into the living room, in front of the fireplace.”

“Sounds romantic. So… getting married wasn’t the bad part?”

“Not really. As long as it was you, anyway. Problem is, I think all the preachers drove off.”

“We’ll work something out when the time comes,” Sondra whispered, kissing him. “As for keeping warm…”

They went back to sleep, but not right away.

Jennifer Lane woke with a start, and gasped at the silhouette against the moonlit window.

“Miss Jennifer? I had a bad dream.”

“Oh. Caitlin. It’s all right, you’re awake now. Do you remember it?”

“Yeah.” The little girl shuddered, even wrapped in her blanket from the futon in the living room. “I was playing outside, and a truck stopped. My mom was in it — I couldn’t see her, but I knew it was her. She said to get in.”

Jennifer thought a moment. “Did you?”

“I didn’t want to. I said you were taking care of me now, and I was scared of the trucks, but she said I had to come. I started walking toward it, and someone — I think it was Ben — threw a soccer ball at me. I threw it back at him, then I woke up.”

“You want to know what I think?” Jennifer asked, and Caitlin nodded. “I think you had that dream because we went and got your stuff from your old house on Wednesday, and we had to stay there overnight because it was too far to ride back home before dark. That made you think about your mom, but you didn’t know you were thinking about her, so you had the dream.”

“But I did think about her!” Caitlin wailed. Her breath caught for a moment. “I did. I — I didn’t wanna make you feel bad, because I know you’re taking care of me now, but I wished she was home and I could just stay there with her.” Jennifer could see her tears in the moonlight.

“It’s okay, Caitlin,” Jennifer said. “I’d be disappointed if you didn’t feel that way. It’s normal.” She took Caitlin’s hand, and the girl slumped onto the bed, crying. Jennifer let her cry, and Caitlin cried herself to sleep on the bed, still wrapped up in the blanket.

Jennifer looked at the sleeping girl for a moment. Caitlin couldn’t help being a little clingy; her parents had split last winter. First her dad had left, then her mom drove off. Her crush on Cody was likely just his “luck” at being the first older boy she’d met. The girl was already losing her fat — with no TV to speak of and lots of work to get ready for the winter, even the kids were getting in shape — but was still too heavy to pick up. After a moment of thought, Jennifer got another blanket from the closet and went to the futon. Good enough for her, good enough for me, she thought. She slept — and had her own dreams.

to be continued…


  1. Question, Far: why wouldn't the creeks be running clear? It seems that things would be better now that most of the humans are gone.

  2. Hey Boran! They might be a little cautious, but it might take some time to wash away the effects of long term neglect and abuse.


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