Turning Point

By: Darren Peabody

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Date: SubFrost 82th

I’m sorry to do this — this way. I’m sick, son, and I’m not waiting around to let that do me in. I’ve seen this world change, and I miss the old world. The people, the cities, conversation. Now it is a different place. Now it is ruin, and I have no place in it. I’ve taught you everything I could about surviving out here. Now that you’re 18,  you can carry the torch. You’ll see the dawn of the next era and hopefully you’ll come to appreciate, to love the world in a way I never could. I pray you do. Take care of Rosco, he’s you’re companion now. Remember what I taught you, trust your instincts, but most importantly, be happy son. I love you. Never forget who you are and never give up hope.

Best Wishes and with Love,

Dad

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I stay sitting against the tree, hanging on the last words of my father yet again. I toss a penny into the lake the leafless tree towers over. I make a wish, like my dad and I use to do every day. I wish for the same thing he did. To come to love this world. This world that my father couldn’t. Now I’m here, at the shifting of the seasons, caught in the early days of FrostFire, the quarter of the year my father told me things were suppose to grow back, but they haven’t in a long time. The land before me is patches of white snow and brown dirt. The craters, wounds from the war, pepper the landscape. Ice floats around in the glimmering lake filled with coins from the years of wishes. My eyes hover over to the horizon where dark clouds push toward us. I fold the paper up as I stand from my spot under the tree to stretch. Rosco lifts his head and his ears perk up, ready to go, but content staying where he was.

“Time to go, boy?” I say.

Rosco sticks his tongue out, panting,  and wags his tail in anticipation. I turn and walk away from the tree, away from the lake and the memories that live there. Rosco follows, trotting behind me. We make our way home. Half way there and i feel a drop on my head, then another. How did the rain catch us so quickly? Rosco and I start jogging to get back to the hut before the downpour happens. But too late, the rain fell, stinging like bullets as we ran. We arrived home, soaked and dripping wet. The water forming puddles at our feet. Rosco shakes out next to me, spraying me with even more water. I hang my clothes up above the fireplace. The sun was setting as the rain continues it’s assault. Sunlight leaves the valley as I spark a match to combat the darkness. I ignite a fire that bathes the room in light. I sit in the chair next to the fire, sinking into the cushions. Rosco walks over and lays next to me. Only when I finally sit do I realize how exhausted I really was, the heat from the fire warms and comforts me. I glance over at my father’s chair that the light from the fire seemed to dodge, as if consciously avoiding it. The hut seems smaller, despite missing the man who built  it. I feel my eyelids grow heavy as the sound of the rain and thunder fade away, like the rest of the world.

I wake up with a beam of sunlight on my face, signifying a new day. I rise from my chair, and walk to the window. The sky was clear, no clouds in sight; funny how that happens. I open the door of the hut and walk around to the generator. Pulling the cord, I start it. I shoo some birds off of the solar panel, I hear their song as they fly across the morning sky. The cluster of twigs and branches reveal a nest with some eggs on the roof of my hut. I go back inside and throw some beans into a pan to fry them on the stove. I eat my meager breakfast that I share with Rosco. Then put on my jacket and lace up my boots for the day. I turn off the generator, and head out for wood with the sled. The grass was wet with dew, allowing the sled to glide over. I cross the plain to the forest. Broken trees and fallen wood surround me. I collect the wood and pile it into the sled. I haul the wood  back home and chop the logs into pieces for the fire. I stack the wood inside in nice neat piles. After, I set out to forage. I make my way to the unused city, which now is a collection of buildings, decrepit and unused. My dad and I worked though some of them, but I still need to complete the task. I push my way into a building, Rosco close behind me. The building had signs on it’s windows saying “BUY ONE GET ONE FREE” and “SEASONAL SALE.” The shelves are mostly empty except for cans and jars here and there. I wandered around, looking at the signs above the aisles. I come across a knocked over display. I pick up one of the small packages, it read “Calendulas”, my dad’s favorite flowers. He always said they reminded him of the sunrise of a new day. I pocket the seeds and continue on. By the end of the 3 hour scavenging run, Rosco and I were tired and made our way back to the lake to make my wish. I sit, back against the tree and cast my coin into the water, creating ripples across the lake. Then I set my head back on the bark. I look up and see a small nub of green on the edge of the branch. I get up and rub my eyes to make sure what I’m seeing is real. I start climbing the tree and when I get to the branch I see the early stages of what my dad called a “leaf”. The tree was alive. I move about 20 feet off and plunge my hands into the dirt, making a small hole. I took the packet out from my pocket and tear it open. I drop 2 seeds in and then make another hole, about 5 feet away. I form a ring around the tree with the seeds and then wait. I retake my position at the base of the tree and eagerly wait with Rosco by my side. Eventually, night fell and so did my hopes, when nothing grew. As the darkness loomed, I slowly began drifting to sleep, not willing to give up on the calendulas.

Water woke me up, dew dripping from the tree above. I rub the tired from my eyes and look up, The sky was green. No, no the TREE was green. I shot up and stared in awe, a tree now full of leaves, all vibrant shades of green. Birds sing as the branches dance in the wind. Then I look down and see my ring of flowers grew in. A sudden explosion of color in such a bleak world took me by surprise. Rosco wasted no time rolling around in the green grass that sprung up, and I join him. I take a deep breath, breathing in the new air. Everything feels alive. I feel connected to the earth, I feel happy. I roll over on my back and look at the sky as the sun peeks through the leaves. This is a world I can come to love.

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