The last of the bluebells has wilted. That’s all of the flowers now, every single one of them. Gone. I look out of my window across the barren yard, remembering how much life used to teem within the grass, how the trees used to sway and bend with the wind. What I miss most of all is the changing of the seasons. I wish I could feel the cool autumn breeze against my skin again.
Mother is getting sicker. Mr Norris from next door died last week. The adults tell us that it’ll be fine but us kids know that they’re lying. We don’t blame them, maybe they’re scared too.
It starts with the dizzy spells. Mother kept dropping things when once she’d been so steady on her feet. Then came the nose bleeds. Mother had been standing over a boiling pot of soup she’d made for dinner. Her nose began to bleed, and the droplets fell into the broth, turning the vibrant colours brown and dull. We didn’t eat that night. Lastly, was the paralysis. Mother hasn’t gotten to the stage yet, but I saw Mr Norris when the illness finally took hold. He lay in bed, the sheets tucked under his chin. He kept his eyes closed because the spinning made him sick. The Doctor’s hooked him up to machines to make sure he didn’t lose too much blood. But maybe that would’ve been kinder, maybe it would’ve been quicker. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to go out that way.
We stay inside now. No one goes out if they can help it. We listen to the radio as they recount the number of casualties. I hold my breath and pray they don’t read out a familiar name. But it happened yesterday. Jamie Sandusky. He was a sweet boy. I knew him from school, we sat together in history and he taught me how to make paper airplanes. He was the first child to be taken. I won’t tell my sister because I know it will scare her. Maybe this is what it means to be an adult, you hide things to protect people you love. I hate keeping secrets, I wish I could stay little forever but thinking of that scares me because maybe I will, maybe I’ll never grow up.
The rations are getting smaller by the day. Soon there’ll be nothing left. We’re always so hungry. Mother has stopped eating altogether, she says the nausea is too much. I give her food to my sister, she’s so small she could use the extra.
As dawn breaks, I look out from the upstairs window to the crop farms across the way. Everything is dead.
I can’t see us lasting much longer.
Clarrie Rose is a writer from Manchester, England. Having completed her master’s degree in Creative Writing, she now edits Hypnopomp Magazine. Clarrie can be found listening to true crime podcasts, having existential crises, and trying to bake. Her work features in Ellipsis Zine’s ‘Three’ & STORGY.