After The Zombies Came: Day 121

by Jay HOLLEY
 

Jenny sat at the oak table and stroked her unbandaged fingernails over a large brown knot. She picked up a dusty copy of Reader’s Digest, flipped through its pages, and set it down a few inches from where it had been resting since December. Absentmindedly she drew figure-eights in its dustless footprint. She picked up the cork leaking red onto a dusty stack of Marie Claires and twirled it slowly like a pencil. She looked across the checkerboard kitchen floor at her man Stephen patting a gravy boat with a cotton towel and thought about offering help, but decided to stay a spectator. Did he always whistle while drying dishes, she wondered. Two months together and this was their first meal on china. The farmstead they’d discovered seemed to be an oasis: a pantry of dry and canned goods, a cellar hiding five cases of cheap wine, the owners suicides by sleeping pills. This morning she’d stumbled into a double-long spring trap Stephen had set the evening before but failed to mention. This would’ve stopped one of them from getting you, she’d cursed him as she pried her bloodied calf free, but it won’t stop me. By the time she reached the house her flush of rage had passed. He’d been cooking three squares and rounding all the patrols for a month as traces of the trap’s incisors scabbed, blistered, and scarred her leg, she mused, but the etiquette of guilt and blame doesn’t linger long when zombie hoards roam the hills. They’ve never fed here, she told herself. It won’t be in their memories and they’ll only pass through by chance. She repeated this message over, over, willing herself to believe. She watched Stephen scrape at the burnished residue clinging to the copper sauce pan. She’d eaten two pounds of Lil’ Smokies and Barbecue sauce and was thinking of tomorrow’s canned lasagna.

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