Those were the last words she had spoken, over a month ago. Steve had considered going to the police – several times, in fact - but with the way things were playing out in the streets he suspected that the cops had better things to do that track down a wayward wife. Steve figured that she had found a spot on a boat, and taken her chances on her own. She certainly hadn’t returned with any of the supplies they had so desperately needed. Steve idly wondered whether the furtive whispers he’d overheard were true. Stacy was still a comely woman, though she was pushing forty. He tried to think the best of her, but the worst of times seem to bring out the worst in humanity.
Steve walked into the kitchen and grunted at the meager remains. True, Stacy’s departure had left him and Evan just barely enough to get by on, but they were down to their last couple pounds of rice, only a bag or two of dehydrated beans remained sitting on the counter, sagging as though in defeat. He walked past the counter to the window bringing the only light into the galley kitchen, watching the pandemonium as best he could.
The water had crested the docks yesterday. Steve did a quick bit of mental arithmetic and realized that if the water continued to rise this quickly that his tiny apartment would be beneath the surface in just over a week. He could already see makeshift boats in the streets, people doing anything they can in their desperation to get to safety. They wouldn’t make it far, of course – the last of the real boats had left over a month ago, back before the planes had stopped flying – but that kind of logic was lost on a person desperate enough to take two doors lashed together out to sea.
He heard a small shuffle behind him in the two-bedroom apartment, but didn’t move from his perch. The footsteps trailed across his hearing as they moved over the hardwood, registering but failing to penetrate Steve’s thoughtful despair. It wasn’t until the tiny tug he felt on his pants that he looked down to see Evan, bright and chipper with the energy and innocence only a five year old can show.
“Is mommy coming today?”
Steve shook his head. “Not today, buddy. She’s still out.”
“She must be bringing back a lot of food,” Evan concluded with a child’s confidence. “I hope she hurries. I want that pizza.”
“Me too, buddy,” Steve agreed absently. He watched as two boats in the street below collided, sending their respective loads to the asphalt below as the owners took out their shared frustration on each other. He turned away before the inevitable escalation, not wanting to see yet another killing in the street. Steve dropped down to his knees, putting on a smile and looking Evan in the eye. “What say we play a game of checkers before breakfast?”
Evan’s eyes lit up as he giggled with anticipatory glee. “Yes! I’ll be black this time!”
Steve smiled and nodded. “Sounds good to me. Go get the board, buddy.”
Evan raced off as Steve straightened up, taking one last look out the window. “Good luck, Stacy,” he whispered, “wherever you are.”