“Isn’t it strange to see your death announced on television?” Eve looked at her new family, a twinkle in her eye. “No, really. Stephen? Ron? How about you, Christine? Just internalize such an experience.” She went to the bathroom to wash her hands. From there, she continued, raising her voice to be heard. “It’s not so bad, you know. I feel like they can’t hurt me anymore, I’m already dead, for God’s sake.” She walked into the room where the others just stared at her, a towel in her hand. “Glenda, why don’t you and I go find some clean towels? There’s a supply closet just down the hall.”
Ron and Christine were holding hands, both subdued, the color gone from their faces. “Oh, Jesus.” Eve ran and knelt down beside them. She put her arms around both their legs and then her head against their knees. She swayed and said with sadness, “I’m sorry I came into your lives. Your beautiful home is gone, your life is ruined as you know it.” Hearing herself speak gave her an idea, an amazing idea. “Wait, I may have an answer.” She looked up at them with renewed hope.
“I know of a place, a very special coffee shop.” She thought for a moment. “I need to go alone tonight, I’ll find out some answers from a lady called Donna. Tomorrow night, we all go.”
Christine seemed worried about her new friend. “Eve, you can’t stop what has happened, and you must not feel any guilt. Our lives were on an unsustainable thread, it was just a matter of time.”
The baby began crying. “Honey, do we have enough formula?” Stephen looked at Ron. “We need to find more supplies today.”
Eve became agitated. “Listen to you guys, you’re all thinking about survival for today, I’m talking about a safe house. You don’t understand. This place is beautiful, downright majestic. I believe it’s a secret place and I know how to get there!” She stood and began to pace again. “I need to find my boys, Ron. They need to come with us.”
Glenda was giving her daughter a bottle, and said in a gentle voice. “Honey, your boys don’t even know you’re alive.”
“And besides, they’ve been brainwashed by that husband of yours.” Christine had to contain the anger in her voice. “You must not forget that Trent gave you away. When you think about it, Sandy’s dead because of him.”
Rage engulfed Eve, the sting hurting more than seeing her death announced. “That is so not fair, Christine. You and I both know that Sandy was a target regardless of what happened. They weren’t going to let her live no matter what.”
Stephen’s interest perked at the mention of Sandy’s name. “You guys aren’t talking about the lady connected with that Conchita woman, are you? Is she really dead or is she dead like you, Eve?”
Christine’s voice softened with a reply, “Dead for real, and Eve? I am sorry. You couldn’t be more right about her fate. I’m stressed, that’s all. I didn’t mean what I said.”
Ron jumped up and took charge. “We will all stress each other out to the limits if we don’t figure something out. Maybe Eve is right about this being a short-term home for us, but while it does provide safety, we need to organize.” He pointed to Stephen, “You and I are going out for supplies. Christine, you and Eve replace the dirty linens. And, Glenda. If you get the baby to sleep, maybe you can straighten the place up.” Smiling, he continued, “We are going to do what we can to make this living arrangement as good as it can be. Hey, Christine, look for some books in the lobby. And check the rooms for anything that will entertain us and help time pass. We all need to accept that this is it for now and make the best of it. Eve? Do you still have that master key?”
“Yes.” She went to Christine and gave her a hug. “I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.”
“Now this is more like it. We all have to work overtime not to irritate each other. Look at us, we’re still here. We’re the lucky ones.” Ron sadly rested his eyes on the television to see the shots of ghetto people lying in the streets. “Those are the really brave ones. Out there on the front line, seeing their neighbors slaughtered, and yet they keep on walking. I am proud of them. They may make it to Liberty Square, but a lot of lives will be sacrificed. No one likes war, but the alternative has been to shuffle people off to townships to keep them in isolation. This had to happen sooner or later.”
Ron looked at the group. “Ok, as for us. Our war is called survival. Are you all with me?”
His timing for the pep talk was warranted, and it seemed to work. The men left to gather food supplies, the women left for linens and books. It was Glenda who was left feeding the baby, her eyes glazed while she watched the images on the television.
Smoke in the sky from the military’s use of gun powder, the thugs from the different ghettos who had illegal guns. And now she and her family were living with the most famous traitor in history. She was not comfortable about Eve, she needed to think about her family. She’d have to discuss her fears with Stephen next time they had privacy. They had the baby to think about, their safety needed to be their number one concern. And living next to Eve didn’t seem like they were on the right track. Yes, she would have that talk with her husband.
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