Misha huddles under a thin blanket. She is alone. Papa left to join the fighting men weeks ago. Mama went out two night ago in search of food—a potato or some bread, perhaps—and hasn’t come back. She is too cold and thirsty to cry. She curls herself into a tight ball around Papa’s stocking cap—the one he wore to plant the garden when times were better and which stills smells like him. She wonders where he is now, if he’s curled up somewhere—cold and thirsty—and thinking about her. Misha closes her eyes against the frigid darkness and tries to sleep.
Pierre walks along the cobbled street he used to take to school. He remembers his mother’s warm fingers in his hand as they crossed at the corner. Today, he crosses by himself. He needs no hand to protect him because the cars have all stopped. There’s nobody left to hold his hand anyway. He knows there won’t be anyone at the school either—he hasn’t seen another living person in days—but it’s the only place he can think to go. Pierre catches himself as he trips over the broken stones in the street and trudges on.
Tabby prowls up and down the aisles of the grocery store where she used to shop with her granny. The lights have gone out but Granny sent her with the last flashlight and an admonishment to only turn it on when absolutely necessary. Batteries are not to be wasted. She makes her way through the produce section, holding her nose against the stench of rotted fruits and moldering vegetables. The shelves of canned goods have been picked over and someone has pulled the paper wrappers off of the remaining cans. They drift around her feet like autumn leaves. Tabby fills her backpack with the larger-sized cans, hoping they hold stewed tomatoes or mashed sweet potatoes, and hefts it onto her back for the journey. Granny is waiting.
*7/1/17 Speed Writing prompt: “heirs of a cold war”