Today's story joins Steven, Evie, and the kids six years after the events of Warning Tremors through The Quiet Pause in the Icarus universe. You don't have to be familiar with the Icarus universe for it to make sense though.
You can also listen to the audio version of this story or the Icarus Universe Playlist to get all the flash fictions in chronological order.
Sometimes memories are the worst form of torture.
“What was Christmas like when you were little?” Nadine asked.
The wind howled through the trees outside, and Evie shivered as a draft of frigid air seeped through under the cabinets and swirled around her ankles. Nadine didn’t look up from scrubbing the potatoes for the evening meal, but the way she held herself made it plain the girl was listening intently for the answer. Evie checked to make sure the wind hadn’t created a backdraft in the oven and snuffed out the flame.
“Overwhelming,” Evie said. She took advantage of having the oven open to baste their share of the couple deer the hunting party of their little village managed to harvest. “Everyone ran around busy from the start of the season until the holiday itself. The whole city sparkled with electric lights and glittering ornaments. Warm homes were stuffed full with friends and family bearing gifts wrapped in colorful paper and more food than they could hope to eat.”
“It sounds amazing.” Nadine’s voice carried a soft, somewhat sad kind of awed tone. “I wish I could remember before the war.”
“In a way, I’m glad you don’t,” Evie mumbled. She closed the converted oven’s door before the smoke from the fire could fill the small kitchen. “It’s painful, looking back.”
“I don’t understand that,” Nadine said. She finished drying the last of the potatoes and carried them to the cutting board before picking up the good knife. “Yes it’s sad when something’s lost, but doesn’t remembering good times make you happy?” She turned her big, brown eyes up to her mother. “That’s what you told me when Aden got sick, isn’t it?”
Evie’s hands hovered above the bowl she’d left the bread dough in to rise before they fell back down to her side. Guilt and pain squeezed at her heart, and her eyes stung.
“Yeah,” she choked out as she blinked away the tears gathering. Evie shook herself and floured the counter before turning out the dough to knead. “I suppose I did.”
“It’s good you, Daddy, Nathan, and the others in town remember what life was like before everything happened.”
For a moment, only the swishy sound of bread being kneaded and the thump of a knife against the cutting board could be heard amongst the rustle of the wind outside and popping of the fire in the oven.
“If no one remembered what we lost, how would we ever get it all back?” Nadine asked as she kept slicing potatoes.
“It’s been six years, Nadie.”
Evie heard the scrape of Nadine’s knife over the board before chunks of potato rang against the sides of the pot.
“Tearing things down is easy and fast,” Nadine said as the steady thump of her knife against the cutting board resumed. “Building takes a while, so I’m not worried.”
Each story in this series is 500 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first line generator like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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