This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
This is the record of February 5th, 2020. I will write in this journal as much as I can. The war has been hard on us and I want to record the history of its effects on us.
On the way home, the bus hit a bump, throwing us to the side. I grabbed onto the handle above me support but the unlucky standing passenger next to me was thrown into me. Several “oofs” and “ows” were heard. No “I’m sorry” came out from the man next to me or from anyone else. This bumpy ride to the next destination was normal, even tame compared to most rides. The city was left destroyed after the bombs hit and no help was sent to reconstruct the city. The Rockfield Republic only cared for the bigger cities, the cities that contributed the most to the war. Little Rock had little to contribute to the war. The bus hit another pothole. This one threw us into the air. The two men on either side of me gripped my arms for support. We landed and the sound of heads cracking the windows filled the air. The men let go, one whispering thank you. The bus slowed and creaked to a stop. I made my way to the front of the bus, elbowing several passengers who refused to get out of my way. The rubble wasn’t too bad and didn’t prohibit me from leaving the bus like other places. I was the last to leave. The bus doors slammed behind me and the bus chugged away. The others who had gotten off looked around but I know where to go. The bus dropped me off about a mile away from home, a place that could no longer be reached by anything but by foot. I walked down the street. The alleyway had a dumpster that could be climbed to access the route home.
“Wait.” I turned. Someone had the audacity to speak to a stranger. A woman jogged my way. I could tell she wasn’t from her. Her hair was long, which no one could pull off because of the lack of shampoo, and it shined a golden blond. The woman’s face stood out among the rubble and dirtied faces as it glowed. It showed signs of makeup. Makeup no longer existed here.
“You look like someone who’s lived here for a while,” she stated. “Where do I go to report a crime?”
I scoffed. “No where. If someone steals from you, you deal with it. This is no man’s land and the cops don’t want to go into.” I turned to leave. She grabs my arm.
“But, it was my mother’s pendant,” She begged. “There’s none like it.”
“Do you not know where we are,” I asked. “Little Rock has been left to survive on its own since the bombing because of the lack of contribution it can give to the war. It’s kill or be killed and it looks like you were killed in this situation.” I take her arm of mine, leaving dust on her white jacket. I continue on. As I turn left to the alleyway, I glimpse the lady. Her head was down, and her purse fell off her shoulder. I hurried down the alleyway. Thieves often set traps or camped out in alleyways in search of their next victim. Money or sex, I didn’t want to give up either. The dumpster was still there. The garbage truck hasn’t made its rounds to this part of the city yet. I lifted myself up on the dumpster. I wasn’t that heavy, the dumpster was significantly larger than most dumpsters. The dumpster creaked when I moved. I tested it.
‘The dumpster must be empty,’ I thought. ‘It’s bending slightly.’
I shuffled over to the window and crawled through carefully. The last thing I need is a cut that could become infected. The room was dripping from the ceiling but nothing had changed from this morning. It was still was in shambles and my hope that everything would be fixed after work was destroyed like it was every day. I walked, more like hiked my way, across the room to the bathroom. The toilet worked. There’s ceiling, wall, and furniture destroyed and scattered across the rooms in the apartment complex but that hasn’t stopped this toilet. I did my business and moved to the hallway. Others and I have cleared the hallway meaning it’s the cleanest place within the 20-mile radius. The green carpet was stained, but it provided a false hope that something was being done. Taking the stairs, I exited the building to the other side. A few people walked around looking for scraps of metal or bottles to trade in for a few cents. I recognized several as passerbyers or inhabitants of the apartment complex I stayed in. I climbed down the street, avoiding puddles and holes in the cement. A neighbor waved and bottles clanged together in another’s bag. The hike to home was tiring, but it exhausted me to the point to where I could fall asleep at night without being overpowered with worry. The 40 minute hike ended in front of a half crumbled apartment. I walked to the side of the building and began the long walk to the 5th floor, my apartment being the only one on the 5th floor. I pulled the keys from my pocket. I could hear Juniper yelling about her toys and my mother was singing as she cooked. I opened the door.
Juniper ran and grabbed my leg.
“Hi sweetheart,” I said, picking up Juniper and hugging her.
“Hey Rosaline,” mom said. “I have dinner almost ready. We’re having spaghetti. How was your day?”
“It was the same as usual,” I replied. Laundromats weren’t that exciting. “Has John shown up yet.”
“No. He said he won’t be home till late. He went to the medical supply store.”
I looked a Juniper. “Were you a good girl today?”
“Yes,” she announced gleefully. “I even read 5 more pages than I had to.”
“Good job, sweetie.” I smiled. Her happiness brightened my day after dealing with druggies and single men. Juniper spent all day with her grandmother but with how long I work, she never must work a day in her life. That’s what’s important.
“Let’s go color,” I said. “What have you colored today?”
We spend the next 10 minutes coloring as my mother finishes cooking. The spaghetti is not that great due to limited supplies, but it’s better than the bread we’ve had for the past week. The conversation isn’t much better. I have nothing much to talk about, and it’s not like I can ask Juniper about her day at school. The government has declared Arkansas a war zone and no one can enter or leave. Juniper’s education is limited to the education that my mother, John, and I’s education. I pick up the plates and rinse them off. I’d have to wait till John brought more cleaning supplies from a raid before I could officially clean the plates.
“Yes, sweety.” I looked down.
“It’s Friday,” Juniper stated, handing me a book.
“Looks like I forgot,” I laughed. Today was my day to read to Juniper. Mom usually did it but I volunteered to do it every Friday. I picked Juniper up and took her to her room. She was already in her pajamas so we could get straight to reading. Juniper fell asleep halfway through the book but I continued to read, anyway. She was one to wake up and bother you if you didn’t finish a book. I looked at her. She had my blond hair and green eyes but John’s nose, mouth, and chin. The features complimented each other. The nose helped keep her face from being too wide as a result from the eyes being farther apart and her lips were thin so they didn’t overpower her chin. I carefully leaned out of the bed but it still creaked. Juniper lay still. I closed the door and headed to my room when my mother stopped me.
“John’s found a new couch for the apartment,” she said, “but it’s too big for him to carry on his own.”
“I have tomorrow off,” I considered. “I’ll help him.”
“No. You should stay here.” I stared at my mother.
“Mother, have you not looked in the mirror recently,” I questioned. “We have one in the bathroom. You’re too thin to help.”
“I’m stronger than I look,” She jabbed. “I can pick up Juniper easily.”
“Juniper’s a small child,” I pointed out. “We’re talking about a couch here. What if you get attacked? You won’t be able to protect yourself and you can’t rely on John. I need you here so I can earn money to keep us alive.”
“I know,” she stated. She gave me puppy eyes. “But don’t you want to stay with Juniper more.”
“I would love to,” I sighed. “It’s just a couch. It shouldn’t take that long. Besides, I have the whole day off.”
My mother sighed. She knew I had won, but she still wanted to fight.
“But what if it’s far away,” she asked.
“John wouldn’t be stupid enough to risk his life for a couch across the city,” I stated. “I will bed. I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted.”
I walked past my grumbling mother. I was not up to arguing with her even more. My room was the smallest. It would have been an obvious choice to put Juniper here but John and I wanted as much privacy as we could get. I threw my clothes into the basket. I would have to handwash the pile tomorrow along with Juniper’s clothes. My mother did her own laundry thankfully. The sheets were cold. I shuddered. The air conditioning hadn’t worked for months so I would have to deal with being cold while sleeping. I could hear my mother banging around in the kitchen. She usually stayed until John came home to make sure he was all right. She could stitch up John easily.
‘I wonder where John is now,’ I wondered. ‘Is he on his way home or is he still looking for supplies?’ I dreamed of his face and soon fell asleep. That is all that occurred on February 5th, 2020
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