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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Installment Four of Rowan's Journey

The rest of the drive went smoothly. On the off ramp a few car were stopped and abandoned. The Forerunner cleared them easily. The road to the house was deserted. As they drove past the junk yard it took on a new personality. The colors had long faded, dusty yellow, drab green, all looking ghostly. The light glinted off the windshields, at least the ones that were not broken yet. Rowan noticed a small plume of smoke rising from the center of the mass wreckage of cars. There was old Murphy the junk yard owner cooking something over a fire in the middle of the mess of metal. Rowan could smell the smoke and what seemed like bacon. She had seen bacon cooked over a fire while camping. Her mouth began to water as she suddenly realized how hungry she was. The excitement of the morning had kept her mind occupied. Now as she smelled the fresh smoking aroma of cooking bacon, she was almost ravenous. She glanced over at Joshua and noticed that he was playing with his chrome airplane, like he had done so many times on his way to his Dad’s house. The sound of fake propellers was vibrating on his lips. Rowan smiled and for a moment forgot about the dire situation they may be in. Rowan wondered for a minute if Murphy was his first or last name, she had no idea.

As they rounded the corner of road Rowan could see the house in the distance. A feeling of relief washed over her. As they pulled into the driveway she noticed the white Toyota Camry was gone. The house looked empty, dark, and cold. Rowan got Joshua out of the car and looked around the property a little. It looked like no one had been there in a while. Joshua’s Dad, Wade, must have been in town at his girlfriend’s house. Rowan shuddered and thought about how much she hated his new girlfriend. She hoped that Wade would make his way back to the house soon. The guy that lived in the apartment out back was gone as well. No one was there. Rowan found the key that was hidden under fourth rock to the right of the door. The air smelled unusual. The smell of smoke and something burning in the distance tickled her nose. The smell of fresh Earth made her feel calmer. They went in the house and surveyed the room. Everything seemed normal. The air was crisp and Rowan knew the first thing she needed to do was start a fire. The wood stove was cold. Wade must not have been home in a couple of days. She felt a weird sense of concern for him. As much as she disliked him now, she would give anything to have him home with them. Rowan grabbed a couple of logs and started cutting them down into smaller pieces. She had a good stack of feather sticks, kindling, and scrapings. The fire lit up pretty easy and Rowan was thankful for the warm glow of the fire. The red, yellow, and orange flames were soothing. Joshua asked where his Dad was and she reassured him. He sat in his Mom’s lap staring at the fire. They sat there for a while just settling in.

Rowan checked the lights. There was no electricity. The stove was electric so Rowan got out the cast iron pan and set it on the wood stove. In the fridge there were some pieces of Salmon. The fridge was still cold but she could tell the food would not keep long. Rowan decided to cook up as much of the food as she could to help it last longer. She also got out the cooler. The ice cubes were just starting to get wet as the melting process was beginning. Luckily Wade had a thing for ice so there was quite a bit of it in the freezer. Rowan filled the cooler and put as much of the perishable food in there as she could. The smell of salmon, olive oil and garlic filled the house. By this time Rowan’s mouth was watering. Joshua had been snacking on a banana. They also drank large glasses of milk. They feasted on a savory meal of Salmon, Cous Cous, and fried leafy greens. It almost felt like a normal day.

With their bellies full they unloaded the car. Joshua piped up, “How long are we going to stay here? When is my Dad coming home? Can I watch TV?” Rowan once again reassured him, but in her heart she had no idea what to think. Rowan set herself to task and made a list of priorities of things to do. She checked the water and it was off as well. There was enough for the time being with the fourteen gallon reserve in the basement, the water she brought from home, the water heater, and the Jacuzzi filled to the brim. Rowan was thankful at that moment that Wade was too cheap to chlorinate the whirlpool. The house was warming up. They had candles lit but the house was pretty bright from the sun flowing through the windows. Wade did not like curtains so most of the windows were uncovered. Strangely enough Rowan felt at home. Being there made her feel safer in some way. She got Joshua distracted playing with his toy tool set. She slid into Wade’s bedroom. It crossed her mind that she had not been in there in over a year. Dropping to her knees in the far corner she found the loose board. The wood squeaked and she pride up the floor board. Wade was a bit paranoid, but at this moment Rowan was happy to see the shiny blue metal of the pistol and shotgun. She had picked on Wade for as long as she could remember for hiding his guns under the floorboards, but as she lifted the weapons from there hiding place, she once again said a prayer of thanks. She loaded both weapons and put them up out of Joshua’s reach. As he worked on his carpentry skills, Rowan sat on the couch looking out the window, watching for any sign of movement in the distance. You could see for miles down the road. Nothing moved except the various streams of smoke lifting straight into the sky. It did seem that the fires were dying down. It almost looked like any Sunday morning out in the country. Rowan sat contemplating and wondering what to do.

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