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Footprints in the soft gray snow
Trina’s anxiety grew with every minute that passed. The dirty gray flakes were falling from the darkened sky covering the blackened earth and the dead and barren trees. Although she had breathing apparatus firmly in place, her uneasiness of being in the cursed woods made her pant and wheeze.
“Evan where are you?” she whispered in a crackling voice.
The panic within her was rising. She didn’t want be caught in the open like this. But Evan, her inquisitive little brother had to investigate the sudden change in weather.
“Evan!” she screamed. But, the words were muffled by her mask.
Hope was evaporating. The boy was left in her charge while her father, mother, and older brother ventured into a local town in search uncontaminated food and clothing. At 12 she wasn’t old enough to take such perilous journeys. However, she was old enough to take other responsibility, such taking care of her younger brother.
However, taking care of a five-year-old was no easy matter; especially one with Evan’s curiosity and imagination. Worse yet, Trina thought, he doesn’t have a full understanding of the new reality of life in general.
Her heart raced. She was in the exposed environment and so was Evan.
“That stupid kid,” she muttered several times to herself.
There was one comforting aspect, however. At least Evan grabbed his suit and put it on before sneaking out. But even Trina knew that the suit he wore, as well as the one she was wearing, couldn’t last too long in this hostile environment.
Trina was about to give up hope until she saw the footprints on the gray-covered ground. Hope sprang as she followed the path. Finally, she found Evan standing on a knoll. He was peering into the sky, giggling.
“Evan, what are you doing?”
The boy turned around: “Look it’s snowing! It’s pretty!”
Trina knew it was snow: “Evan, come with me. We can’t stay out here. The radiation level, remember?”
Evan’s smile faded to a sulk. But Evan knew. That was what he was taught.
Trina extended her gloved hand. He took it, and she pulled him toward her.
“We better get back to the shelter.”
The two started running, leaving their footprints in the ash.
© 2014 Dean Traylor