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Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Broken

Ange's heart was broken on the day that the world collapsed. While the survivors around her struggled to find food, clothing, and shelter, she lay oblivious to it all in bed and cried; for the man she loved, for the agony of rejection, and for the cruelty of fate.

Leonard had been so handsome, with delicate lines that creased at the edges of his eyes when a thought amused him. His touch had been so tender, as though any more force might tear through the world which, it turns out, had been made of the thinnest of parchment. Ange believed that he had loved her, for the words often drifted from his lips in the midst of their lovemaking. No man had ever enveloped her, wrapped her body in the luxury of his loins until she had lost herself in his woodsy musk.

Someone pounded on the door. "Angela! Are you in there?"

"Go away, Mother."

"Thank God. Oh sweetie I've been so worried. Let me in."

"Let yourself in."

"I don't have your key."

Ange sat up, curious how her mother could possibly be without a key. After all, the woman kept it next to her own car key on the ring, Ange had seen it a hundred times.

More banging. "Angela?"

"Damn." She threw the covers off and her body tensed from the cold of the room. The heat must have failed for she could see her breath in the air. She wrapped her arms tightly against her chest trying to stop the shivers and opened the door.

What stood in the hallway could not possibly have been her mother. The woman never wore anything but a power suit, complete with high heels and matching jewellery. And yet there she stood, in worn jeans and heavy winter boots, a flannel plaid collar poking above the Gortex jacket. And her hair, for the first time in her life the strands hung limp and lifeless, oily even, as though she'd lost her mind overnight and the hair drying along with it.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Tears

Tears in real life don't slowly drip down one side of a woman's face like they do in the movies. Sometimes they pour out in clumps, as if an old creek bed was suddenly flooded and raged along makeshift valleys. Minellia's tears were no exception.

For the last week, she cried each night until her body could no longer produce a sound or even shudder. Somehow the darkness was the hardest -- lying alone in the bed she had once shared with Rebbo. His death had shocked the community, and though her friends and neighbours comforted her, brought her warm meals that she couldn't keep down, and kept her hearth ablaze, they were unable to reduce the monstrous chasm ripping through her insides.

A second, not even two, of bad luck. A rock falling at just the wrong moment, a shoe lace undone. How could Rebbo's life be reduced by such involuntary timing?

A soft knock at the door.

Minellia rolled onto her back, wiped her face with sheets, and attempted to call out. But her throat would not cooperate.

She forced herself out of bed and staggered for the door.

"Yes?"

"Minellia? It's Hapu. May come in?"

"It's late, Hapu."

"Please?"

She opened the door enough to peer out at the young man. His clothes were dusty, as though he'd been riding all day.