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(Novel and Short Stories)

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Flash Fiction: Future Perfect

This is a prequel to Tin Soldier, my free online novel about a post-petroleum dystopia. It's also linked at Three Word Wednesday which is a great place to drop in and read new writers.


Carina walked the paddock fence, deep in thought. She had visited her parents' high desert rancho for years, but now she was here for good, or at least until her husband came back from the war.

One of the donkeys trotted to the fence and Carina rubbed her velvety nose. "There will be no getting out of your checkups now, silly girl. Soon you'll be wishing I'd go back to the city and take care of dogs and cats."

The city. Carina sighed and leaned against the fence, a gentle breeze blowing her hair and tickling her cheek. In spite of the privations of the Resource Wars, she had enjoyed city life - not just the stores and entertainments, but the little niceties that made life easier. What wouldn't she give to be able to light a room at night with the flick of a wall switch? Would she ever again enjoy a hot shower without having to hurry so as not to empty the rooftop tank and deprive the next person?

She patted the donkey's nose again and continued her rounds. When her husband came home, it would be different. He was a doctor and between his medical skills and her veterinary prowess, they would do well in this valley. When the wars ended, no one would have to hide their solar panels in the basement and ration their batteries behind blackout curtains. The anti-hoarding laws would be lifted and she would be free to prosper.

In the meantime...she looked around the dusty property with its ribbon of a creek meandering through, coaxing green living things out of desert dust. She was the only qualified veterinarian in this valley, and word was that the veterinarian on the nearby reservation was old. Carina would make out okay here and lay the groundwork for her husband's return.

The sun was low in the sky now, starting to dip below the mesas. In a mellow frame of mind, Carina started toward the house, but stopped at the edge of an alfalfa field where her older sister stood brooding over the freshly-irrigated crop. "It would make a nice painting, don't you think? All that green surrounded by desert."

Amalia looked at her through narrowed eyes, then turned away. "I'll be a regular Georgia O'Keefe," she scoffed.

Carina suppressed a sigh. Although Amalia was in many ways the more practical sister, her interests had always gravitated toward literature and the arts. Farm life was going to be hard for her. At least Carina had a skill her neighbors needed. "People have always made art in the desert, even when it was just native people painting pots. We'll find things to do here. Maybe we can even make it fun."

"You'll find things to do. I'll just cope."

"It's better than the city, with the riots and rationing."

"Perhaps." Amalia jerked her head. "Dinner was almost ready when I came out here. Let's go before Mom and Dad worry."

"What's to worry about?" Carina tipped her head and looked at the deepening blue of the sky, where a few faint early stars twinkled. "They've lived out here too long to still have city fears."

Amalia worked a shrug into her movements as they walked the path toward the low adobe house. "It doesn't matter why they think what they do. We may be married women, but living under their roof we might as well be kids again."

"It was best to come out here. Everyone said so."

"Of course."

She said it reluctantly, but Carina decided not to belabor the topic. They were nearly at the house, and she had to admit that the glow of candles and kerosene lanterns in the windows gave it a certain charm. She would find a way to make this work.

"What are you smiling about? I saw what Mom was cooking and it wasn't much."

Carina didn't care if dinner was a bowl of beans or an epicurean feast. "This place is our future," she said with conviction. "We're going to make the most of it."


Want to read the whole thing? Go here: Tin Soldier.


Old Egg said...

I wondered as I read this piece whether it was written before the prompt and tweaked as I must confess some of mine sometimes are. But no I think this is original and thank you for that!

Your skill at storytelling shines through and I really must spend more time going the whole whole story, rather than bits and pieces.

March 17, 2011 at 3:19 AM
Alice Audrey said...

I feel for her. Living under your parents roof when you've been on your own is very hard.

March 18, 2011 at 7:26 PM
Sheilagh Lee said...

sheilagh Lee said Ilove that she looks to the future and makes the best of what they have .

March 21, 2011 at 1:51 PM
Susan Helene Gottfried said...

This is the first optimistic piece I've seen from you in awhile now, Ann. It also gives more tin Soldier background, and that's helpful. I'm curious about this project; need to make the time to read it start to finish.

April 1, 2011 at 7:14 AM

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