#146 Broken

by Kathryn Mrdja

Rosie hadn’t talked since the bombs started.

At first, nobody did. It was all just hiding and hoping you didn’t blow up next. Some boys knew a water pipe tunnel we could hide in. That was extra good because water’s hard to find.

The parents disappeared the first day. No one knows where. The oldest here is Cameron. He’s fourteen. He makes the chore schedule and Meghan writes it down.

One day Cameron said Rosie had to come hunting. Food’s gotten scarce, and everybody has to work. April said Rosie would get us all killed. Sometimes people don’t come back.

Somebody had already got the church food pantry. April came back with some grape juice and crackers. John had some silver cups. Cameron said cups are no good with nothing to put in them. Rosie had something wrapped up in a cloth with gold crosses on it. Her hands were all cut up, and there was blood smeared on her face.

Cameron asked Rosie what she found and she showed us. It was broken glass, all different colors. It sparkled in the lantern light.

Everybody stared at Rosie. April called her stupid, but Cameron made her hush. Meghan asked why she took the glass instead of finding food.

Rosie moved some of the big pieces together and made a star. She whispered, “Wasn’t any food. But I found Mama singing in the choir, Papaw’s funeral, and Christmas candlelight.” Then she got quiet again.

Rosie hasn’t talked since.


Flutterby said...

So heartbreaking. Just for fun you might try chopping off everything after "candlelight" and expanding that paragraph a little bit to show her finding some value in the star and bring it back as a consolation prize. I think leaving it open ended might be stronger. Just one small opinion, but it might be an interesting experiment for you to play with that idea.

Anonymous said...

Oh, boy. What an unexpectedly beautiful and bittersweet turn in this dystopian setting.

Just that simple sentence expresses the entirety of Rosie and all that she knows she's lost. And it fits the prompt really well, too.