Fiction Scene

December is going to be an idea journal kind of month for a lot of reasons.

  1. I’m revising a project in December. This means my major focus is on THAT project. I’m not actively drafting anything. So a lot of my words have to come from idea journals. Little prompts just for the fun of writing.
  2. I’m behind on posting shorts. You may remember that I had a goal to post 24 short stories, scenes, or poems to this blog in 2020. Well, I have to post 6 of those in December to hit that magic number. YIKES!

Anyway, I’ve been having fun writing random scenes so far in December. Today, I’m sharing one. I used a first line generator for this one and let it just guide me into this story. ENJOY!

As they stand behind the glass wall of windows lining the penthouse, they watch the lights of the city below go out one-by-one. He breaths a resigned sigh. “Electricity failure, as expected,” he says. Then he turns away from the windows as if turning his back on that life is as simple an act. “Good thing we were prepared.”

She turns to take in what he is seeing. The lanterns, three burning and fifteen still boxed and stacked against the wall. The cans and boxes of food that won’t spoil. The propane bottles lined up near the camping stove they power. The water, cases and cases of it, stretching into the other room of the hotel suite. Her eyes linger on the door, checking if the locks are turned the right way and if the security bolt is thrown. Then her eyes find him again. He is watching her, the shake of his head telling her he caught her in the act of rechecking the door. “Hungry?” he asks. “I can make us something.”

She shakes her head. She isn’t hungry. She’s never hungry anymore. She will eat if he is eating because it seems like she should. But that grumbling in her stomach, the one she used to get, seems to have faded like her will to live. How much time will they have to spend up here? Will there ever be an end?

“I’m going to heat up some of that beef stew stuff,” he says. He crosses to the wall of canned food, crouching down to investigate. He pulls a single can out of the stack, careful to let the others slowly down to keep the entire pile from falling. He waves it at her. “Found one. It’s the good stuff. The brand you like.”

She remembers having that brand a few times before. She doesn’t remember registering an opinion on the quality. After all, before all of this, she was the type to make beef stew from fresh ingredients, letting it simmer all day to maximize flavor. Opening a can used to seem so beneath her. She registers that it is ironic that it is now the opening of those cans that is saving her life. The preservatives she used to try and avoid are now the things allowing her to eat anything at all. 

She watches him open the can with a manual can opener. They’d had to take that from the store they looted when they took the cans. Their electric one wouldn’t work forever, he’d claimed. One more thing he was right about. He dumps the large fat can into a sauce pan. She watches, wrinkling her nose at the glop that falls out. It looks like dog food. He uses a match to light the burner on the little camping stove and sets the pan there. “Won’t be long now,” he says. “This baby should heat pretty fast.” 

He tips his head toward the thing she’d scoffed at him for bringing, the bottles of wine neatly fitted into the little metal framework and a corkscrew hanging from it. It was the only thing he’d dragged into the penthouse that didn’t scream “doomsday prepping” and it is completely out of place up here. “Should I open one?” he asks. 

She catches herself smiling, suddenly, such a simple act but so out of place lately. Perhaps that’s why he dragged that thing up here. To give her a quick moment, when things were at their literal darkest out there, to remind her of something normal. Suddenly that’s exactly what she wants. A glass of wine with dinner. Something so ordinary. She nods, vehemently. “Pour a big one. Do we have any real glasses?”

The penthouse suite they’ve barred themselves in is fully furnished. That’s the idea, because you’re supposed to be vacationing in style. He opens a nearby cabinet and holds up two long stem wine glasses. Her smile widens. “Perfect,” she says. 

A new energy buzzes through her limbs and she moves in his direction. “I’ll stir dinner,” she says. It takes her two drawers in the little kitchenette before she finds where he has put the large spoons. By the time she is back at the camping stove, there are small bubbles in the liquid of the pan. She removes the lid and stirs. Her nose catches the scent and she feels it, that small grumble in her stomach. Perhaps it is not as silent as she thought. Perhaps, no matter what she is thinking, her body does still crave those basic things necessary for her survival. It’s as if her body is telling her what her brain won’t admit. She does want to live. Even if living no longer looks the same. 

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