I am so sick of the sight of ash. It’s worse than sand, you know. It gets into everything. Cleaning it is a never-ending chore, since it just keeps on falling. It’s in my clothes, my hair, even my food. I can’t remember the last time I ate anything that didn’t taste of ash.
Not that it matters. If the ashfall doesn’t stop soon, there won’t be any food to eat. The fields we used to sow are covered in a layer of ash inches thick. Nothing would grow in this strange half-light anyway. Even the little rain is a weird mix of ash and water. We try to filter and boil it before we drink, but we still can’t avoid ingesting a little with each sip.
Little Nancy has caught a nasty cough that just won’t seem to settle. We aren’t sure if it’s a bad cold — the medicine all ran out ages ago — or if it is somehow related to the ash. It can’t be good for her to be inhaling it all the time, after all. We keep her inside as much as we can but, like I said, that stuff gets everywhere, and she can’t avoid it altogether.
Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if she just died. The world she’ll be inheriting won’t be a nice one, especially since she’s a girl. Food is running low, clean water is a thing of the past. And who knows how long this infernal ash will last?
Rumours have started trickling in of raiding parties as well. Some are just average people like you and me. Desperate people who’ve run out of food and just want to survive. I’ve heard of others, though. Soldiers and police forming groups to make food runs for the surviving government officials. Scary groups, ruthless, taking no prisoners except some of the prettier women and girls. We haven’t seen them ourselves, but it’s only a matter of time, isn’t it?
So I look at this world and think of the kind of place it would be for a girl to grow up in and I wonder if I shouldn’t just smother her in her sleep. These thoughts only last a moment, though before I feel guilty and wonder what kind of mother I am to consider doing that to my baby girl. Even so, every time she falls asleep through the coughing, I can’t help but hope she won’t wake.
Sometimes, at night, I can’t help but hope I won’t wake either.