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  • #6085
    prUneprUne
    Participant

    She made us miss Mater’s birthday, didn’t she?

    Idle had one job…

    Truth is, wouldn’t have been much fun to party with masks on, although the thought occurred that a masquerade ball would be something to behold.

    Oh well, Mater is going to have a field day making us all look guilty. I’m sure it’ll warm her soft heart. Might be all she needs nowadays.

    Can’t say that the business at the inn had been splendid. We’ve grown so used to the idea we might have to sell it anytime, that it doesn’t feel such an earthshattering revelation.

    But if we sell, how much can we scrap by to send Mater to a nice nursing home. She might screech and kick us if we only voiced the idea. People have no idea how feral she can be on the topic. Aunt Dido knows though. I’m sure she’s having a few hustles down the road to get the household afloat.

    #6081
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    I’ll admit Mater did well with the get back into shape programme, despite my skepticism.  She did hone her muscles a bit, but she was still harping on about wanting plastic surgery.  I probably shouldn’t have asked her if she was showing off her biceps or her bingo wings the other day, because that started her off again. I tried to make it up by complimenting her thigh muscles, but spoiled it by saying it was a shame the skin hung down past her kneecaps. Bert said maybe she could hold the skin up with some suspenders and made me spit my eucalyptus tea out and nearly choke to death. Mater was all set to take offence until she saw me choking, and then she started laughing too. I’m smiling remembering it, because we all saw the funny side then and couldn’t stop laughing for ages. God knows we needed a good laugh.

    I’d had another one of those telepathic chats with Corrie the day before. If I’d known those silly girls were going to navigate their way here via that route I’d have said something, but I never thought they’d be so daft.  There’s me envisioning a pleasant drift through the Mediterranean, and an unexpected sail across an immense shallow lake that had appeared in the middle east with crystal clear waters and a sandy bottom (I could picture it all, I tell you) and then an invitingly tropical trip along the Indian coast with ports of call at virgin new coastlines  ~ but no, they’d gone the other way.  Across the Atlantic. And now they were fighting off bandits every step of the way and having to go miles out of their way to avoid plague ridden slums.  They hadn’t even made their way past the eastern seaboard yet, despite it being considerably narrower now.

    They lost Pan for days in one of those half submerged coastal cities, rife with lawless floating shanties.  I hope my impressions are wrong, I do really, but it seemed like he’d been kidnapped for a barbecue.  Tender and juicy.

    His ability to stay submerged under the water for so long saved him, that and Corrie’s ability to stay in telepathic contact with him.

    They left the coastline and headed south after that and didn’t head back towards land for awhile but when they did, they found the lagoons and inlets were infested with alligators and some kind of water pig. Not sure if I picked that up right, but seems like the hogs had escaped from the farms during the Great Floods and taken to the water. Pan was forbidden to waterlark in these waters and had to stay confined to the raft.

    I don’t know if they’ll get here in time for Mater’s birthday. Might be my hundredth birthday by the time they get here at this rate.

    #6032

    In reply to: Story Bored

    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Board 9, Story 3

    Idle had licked the skin of the lizard Tiku had brought her. She wasn’t expecting a rainbow and a leprechaun but is glad to have found the treasure at the end of it. She already has ideas to revamp the Inn.

    Aqua Luna has been invited by Madame Li on the Surge Team boat for New Year’s Eve party. She realised too late she’d have to clean after the guests are gone.

    Eleri has been driving around in her black raven dress, avoiding Leroway’s traps. Thanks to Glynis’s potion, she can spot their glitters before they glitch her.

    #6019

    In reply to: Story Bored

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Board 8, Story 2

    Margit, the maudlin woman on the beach, was clearly the mad doctors mother. The old snapshot Aunt Idle found of the boy Brynjúlfursdóttir a.k.a. Bronklehampton proved that he was indulging in strange experiments even as a young child.

    Becky regretted marrying Sean but was glad she kept the wedding presents, especially that YouDo doll.  Who knew what that YouDo doll was capable of at the time, but it’s ability to teleport items during the quarantine was proving extremely useful.

    Sam wasn’t impressed with the  Spider Amusement Park.  “It may have a spider, but it’s not much of a park and certainly doesn’t look very amusing,” he said while perusing the holiday brochures.

    #6002

    In reply to: Story Bored

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Board 7, Story 2

    Hector Coon announces the winner of the biggest carrot competition at the Pillaughpiffleston Manor fete, as Phlynn the gamekeeper gloats over his first prize for the fancy dress party.  Lady Theresa Eaglestone (a.k.a. T’eggy)  is confident she can continue to conceal the true paternity of the newborn Lord of the Manor, with the help of her old friend Marvin Scrozzezi.

    Aunt Idle found the food in Iceland ghastly, especially if you weren’t a fishy sort of person. She contemplated roasting the cat instead.

    Francette Fine of the Theatre du Soleil and Igor Popinkin of Russian Ballet troupe set up a food stall to try and make ends meet during La Cuarentena, until large theatre gatherings are permitted again.

    #6000

    In reply to: Story Bored

    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Board 6, Story 3

    Idle: Prune, you’re a little green. You ate all the termite honey I kept hidden in the kitchen cupboard. The robot isn’t real. We’re not in Mars botanical garden dome.

    Godfrey: Dammit! Liz said turn right after the wHysteria roots. But I wouldn’t be able to recognise the roots of any plants… except maybe for carrots or potatoes.

    Kumihimo: Oh! No, my poor Ronaldo. Those darn traps turned my donkey into a sooricat! We have to do something, Fuyi (mysterious character that one of us hasn’t introduced yet)

    #5974

    In reply to: Story Bored

    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Board 3, Story 3:

    Star, Tara and Rosamund discover the mysterious cult is nothing more than a tropical yoga retreat and slimming spa for cross dressers.

    Aunt Idle finds more than she bargained for in the basement of the old Bundy place.

    Fanella is delighted to find their hot air balloon landed in a field in time for a fancy dress picnic party

    #5960
    DevanDevan
    Participant

    Working at the gas station gave me the possibility to not only be confined at home but also at work. At least I could enjoy the transit between places, that’s what I told me everyday. And better go to work than turn around all day in the studio I rented since I left the Inn.

    You can’t imagine how many people need gas during the confinement. It looks like in this part of the country people don’t have as many dogs as them in the big cities, so they do all sorts of crazy things to be able to get out.

    A man came to the station this morning. I’m sure it was to give the equivalent of a walk to his brand new red GMC Canyon, you know, treating his car like she needed fresh air and to get some exercise regularly. From behind the makeshift window made of transparent wrapper, I asked him how was his day. You know, to be polite. He showed me the back of his truck. I swear there was a cage with two dingos in it.

    The guy told me he captured them the other day in case the cops stopped him in the street with no reason to be out. At least, he said, I could still say I’m giving them a walk. I told him them being in a cage would hardly pass as a walk but he answered me with a wink and a big grin that cops weren’t that intelligent. I’m glad we have makeshift windows now, at least seeing his teeth I didn’t have to smell his breath. I’m not sure who’s the less intelligent in absolute terms, but in that case I’d rather bet his IQ would fail him.

    Well that’s probably the most exciting thing that happened before I went home after work. As soon as I got home I received a phone call from Prune. On the landline. It’s like she has some magical means to know when I’m there.

    Anyway, she asked me if I washed my hand. I told her yes, though I honestly don’t recall. But I have to make her think all is ok. She started to talk again about Jasper. Each time she mention the subject I’m a bit uncomfortable. I’m not sure I fancy having a brother, even if it’s kind of being in a TV series. She said she had looked for him on internet, contacted some adoption agencies, even tried a private called Dick. That’s all that I remember of the private’s name. Dick, maybe that’s because he never answered her calls. Might be dead of the pandamic I told her. PandEmic, She corrected. I know, I told her, I said that to cheer you up.

    We talked about Mater too. That made me laugh. Apparently Idle saw her in a fuschia pink leotard. Prune half laughed herself when she mentioned the leotard, but she said : Truth is I don’t know what Dido had taken when she had seen Mater outside. I suspect the om chanting was simply snoring.

    There was a silence afterward. Maybe Prune was thinking about age and the meaning of life, I was merely realising I was hungry. I swear I don’t know what crossed my mind. I have a tendency to want to help my sister even if I think there is no hope. You know, I told her, about Jasper we could still go and ask that woman in the bush. It’s like she already knew what I was going to say. Tiku I knew by her tone that all the conversation was fated to lead there. Yeah. I can drive you there after work tomorrow. 

    Of course, we didn’t even have to go there after all.

    #5958
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    Mater has started a fitness regime to make sure she lives long enough to make the milestone. She said if it had all happened a couple of years ago she wouldn’t have minded whether she popped off or not, but now that she was this close, she wasn’t going to be robbed of her glory.

    It was hard to see the glory in that lumpy old flesh wobbling around the front yard, or why anyone would be interested in robbing her of it still less, but she was determined, and there was no putting her off.  And it’s not just the jogging. I thought we had a swarm of bees on the porch yesterday and went out to investigate and it was Mater, sitting there on the wooden floor in an awkward parody of a guru pose babbling some Om sounds and humming. And that wasn’t the worst of it either, she was wearing a fuchsia pink leotard.

    #5693
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    What that kid didn’t realize was that the dog showed me where every single camera was. That dog’s always been scared of cameras, you can always tell when someone’s got their camera out by Dusty’s reaction. I can’t for the life of me work out why they were there, though.

    #5655
    prUneprUne
    Participant

    I don’t know if that’s a second youth or what, but getting to that 100 line has put Mater in an energetic frenzy. She’s been putting her things in order, like she said.

    My studies on machine learning and artificial intelligence are keeping me away for now. I’ve been studying hard for that Mars program selection, but it looks like it’s hopeless. Anyway, I had the good idea to put nannycams in all the hidden spots of the Inn. It’s not been as much fun as I’d hoped, spying on Aunt Idle and her manic ramblings. You would think she’s drunk all the time, but for all the recordings, I’d be damned if I’ve caught her yet on tape with a bottle. I guess her body just distills it on its own…

    So, I’ve kept an eye on Mater too; she’s been acting funny at the mention of Jasper. And I found her quick to put a tight lid back on the topic.

    I’m not even mentioning the dubious trails of “Uncles” of late: the Fergus, Basil or otherwise. She’d known quite a few of these in her days, although she’s claimed to have been a paragon of matrimonial virtue, being single woman with kids in these parts must have been rough after she lost Pater.

    I think I finally caught something between all the cloak and dagger mascarades, tatty letters and all. Digital footprint isn’t big, but it may be something tangible to begin with.

    Meanwhile, we’ll have to get started getting the invitation list in order; Mater’s contemporaries are falling by the minute, and Aunt Dido’s braincells are probably dying as fast as that— it won’t be easy to get a complete list. I know I should enlist Devan, I even put him on that family group thing, but he’s not big with all the tech stuff. As for the twins, well… We still have to hear about their stories. At this rate, might be faster to learn to telepathically tack on Dodo’s brainwaves. She says to whomever wants to hear she’s got direct connection to them… Would sound cultish to me, if I didn’t know better about the sisters! I’ll be worried when Mater starts to take this woowoo seriously.

    #5613
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    Well, it wasn’t what I expected. but once I got over being slightly miffed that it was all about Mater, stealing the limelight again, I realized that I would get my wish after all, if Corrie and Clove and the others were going to come back for a visit.  When they arrived, they could tell me all about what had been happening.  The twins and Pan were to set off soon, on a sea worthy raft they’d been working on. It would be a long trip and hard to judge how long it would take.  The waters were uncharted in places, Corrie mentioned in the letter, given that the waters had risen in so many places, but it also meant there was a chance of safe passage by water in places that had previously been dry land.  Narrow canals had become wide shallow lakes, so they’d heard. Pan would be able to dive to his hearts content along the way, and they were all excited about the coming adventure.

    “We will continue to communicate telepathically during the trip, Auntie”, Corrie had written, which gave me a glow of pride and satisfaction. I hadn’t been making it up, we truly had been exchanging messages all along.

    I wasn’t sure how easy it was going to be dealing with Mater in the meantime, though. She was demanding plastic surgery now.

    “Plastic surgery?” I said, “You can’t even get a decent tupperware these days, lid or no lid. Where on earth are we supposed to get plastic surgery from?”

    Almost a hundred years old, and still vain. I ask you. “Do you see me fussing over my looks?”

    “Quite” she replied, and pursed her shriveled lips.

    #5606
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    I wish now that I’d had the sense to open the letter in private. I can’t imagine why I didn’t think of that, but I didn’t. I tried not to make a drama out of it, I didn’t make an announcement or anything. One morning after breakfast I untied the string and opened the letter. It wasn’t any of the things I had expected.  Clearly printed in large capital letters at the top was written DON’T TELL MATER.

    Quickly I folded it over, dropping it discreetly into my lap under the table.   “Any more nettle tea in the pot, Bert?” I asked and feigned a casual yawn.

    “Well?” asked Mater.

    “Well what?” I asked.

    “I can read you like a book,” she said, to which I replied hotly, “Well then I won’t need to write one, will I.”

    “What did the letter say?” she pressed on.

    “What letter?” I said

    “For crying out loud!” she said.

    “Pass your cup then,” said Bert, giving me a piercing look. Over the top of Mater’s head he mouthed a word, with a questioning look. I’ve never been any good at lip reading, but it looked like he was trying to say Jasper.

    “Who?” I mouthed back, but Mater saw me, so I pretended I had a bit of nettle stuck between my teeth.

    “For crying out loud,”  Mater said again which elicited an exasperated remark from Bert about broken records, open books, unread letters and lost marbles.

    #5593
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Was trying to get a basic timeline in place for future reference:

    • (1935) Birth of Mater
    • (1958) Mater marries her childhood sweetheart (ref)
    • (1965) Birth of Fred
    • (1970) Birth of Aunt Idle
    • (1978) April 12th, Mater’s husband dies
    • (1998) Birth of Devan
    • (2000) Birth of the twins Coriander & Clove
    • (2008) Birth of Prune
    • (2014) Start of Prune’s journal about the Inn (she’s 6 at the time – ref)
    • (2017) visit of Arona, Albie, Maeve, Hilda, Sanso etc. to the Inn
    • (2020) The year of the Great Fires (ref). Mater is 85. Idle is 50. The twins are 20. Prune is 12.
    • (2027) First settlers on Mars; Prune’s left for a boarding school to pursue her dreams

    Fast forward 15 years later

    • (2035) Idle receives news from the twins (now aged 35) & waterlark adventures.
      Mater is alive and kicking at 100.

    Fast forward a little more

    • (2049) Prune arrives with a commercial flight on Mars, having won a place through a reality show.
      Mater is deceased. She would have been 114.
      Little after, the Mars mission is revealed to be an elaborately constructed mass illusion, and the program is terminated via an alien invasion simulation; like the other survivors from the program, she returns to Australia but cannot reveal the details of the program.
    #5585
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    The more they hounded me to open the letter, the less I wanted to.  I just wanted to dig my heels in at first, honestly when nothing ever happens for months and years on end, any little thing out of the ordinary is worth making a meal of.  But the longer it went on, the more uneasy I got. What if it was disappointing, somehow?  What if there was bad news, or news we didn’t want to hear that we wouldn’t be able to unhear, once we knew?  What if it was none of those things and just a few scribbles the child had done, or a hand print? It was like opening a Christmas present with a dozen people looking at your reaction when you open it. What if it was something that didn’t tell you anything? Maybe something quickly tied together in a rush with no particular meaning? Of course that would be a treasure to receive, what with communications being so non existent, but still, it would be an anti climax after all this anticipation.  What I wanted, I realized, was the complete story of everything that had happened since we last saw them. I wanted to know all about it.

    #5376
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    I don’t know how I restrained myself from throttling Finly when she finally handed me the letter from Corrie.  A whole week she’d had it,  and wouldn’t share it until she’d cleaned every last window. Some peoples priorities, I ask you!  The funny thing was that even when I had it in my hand I didn’t open it right away. Even with Mater and Bert breathing down my neck.

    It was something to savour, the feeling of having an unopened letter in ones hand.  Not that this looked like the letters we used to get years ago, all crisp and slim on white paper, addressed in fine blue ink. This was a bundle tied with a bit of wool pulled out of an old jumper by the look of it, all squiggly,  holding together several layers of yellowed thin cardboard and written on with a beetroot colour dye and a makeshift brush by the look of it.  The kind of thing that used to be considered natural and artistic, long ago, when such things were the fashion.  I suppose the fashion now, in such places where fashion still exists, is for retro plastic.  They said plastic litter wouldn’t decompose for hundreds of years, how wrong they were! I’d give my right arm now for a cupboard full of tupperware with lids. Or even without lids.  Plastic bottles and shopping bags ~ when I think back to how we used to hate them, and they’re like gold now.  Better than gold, nobody has any interest in gold nowadays, but people would sell their soul for a plastic bucket.

    I waited until the sun was going down, and sat on the porch with the golden rays of the lowering sun slanting across the yard.  I clasped the bundle to my heart and squinted into the sun and sighed with joyful anticipation.

    “For the love of god, will you get on with it!” said Bert, rudely interrupting the moment.

    Gently I pulled the faded red woolen string, and stopped for a moment, imaging the old cardigan that it might have been.

    I didn’t have to look at Mater to know what the expression on her face was, but I wasn’t going to be rushed.  The string fell into my lap and I turned the first piece of card over.

    There was a washed out picture of a rooster on it and a big fancy K.

    “Cornflakes!” I started to weep. “Look, cornflakes!”

    “You always hated cornflakes,” Mater said, missing the point as usual.  “You never liked packet cereal.”

    The look I gave her was withering, although she didn’t seem to wither, not one bit.

    “I used to like rice krispies,” Bert said.

    By the time we’d finished discussing cereal, the sun had gone down and it was too dark to read the letter.

    #5055
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    Oddly enough, I was optimistic about the new year. First of all, it was novel to even realize it was a new year.  And what a tonic it was to have Finly back!   And not just because of the dusting, although it was a pleasure to see a bit of sparkle about the place where she’d spruced things up.  Even Mater had a new spring in her step. She said it was the chocolates, one a day she said was better than any vitamins. I’d eaten all mine the day Sanso and Finly and the others had arrived (and regretted it) but Mater had hidden her box to savour them slowly and secretly.  I remarked to her more than once that she should have the decency to wipe the chocolate off her lips before coming downstairs, gloating because all mine were gone.  But it was nice to see her happy.

    It was a funny thing with chocolate, I’d forgotten all about it. It wasn’t like I’d spent years craving it, and yet when I unwrapped (gift wrapped! oh, the memories!) the box Sanso gave me, it all came flooding back. I popped one in my mouth and closed my eyes, savouring the slow melt, ecstatic at the way it enveloped me in it’s particular sweet charm.

    I felt so sick afterwards though that I was left with the thought that there was something to be said for a simple life with few opportunities for indulgence.  I hadn’t felt that sick since the plague.

    I was glad I’d worn that old red dress when Sanso arrived, and just a little disappointed when he left before my seduction plans reached fruition.  I did try, but he had a knack of dematerializing whenever I got close enough to make a move. Disconcerting it was, but it kept me on my toes. Literally, in those high heeled red shoes.  I twisted my ankle on the damn things and been limping ever since. Oh but it was worth it.

    And the champagne! I asked Sanso where he found it and he said that was Finly’s work, she’s got it from the water larks.

    Finly! What water larks, where? Did you see…? I was almost afraid to ask. Had she seen the twins?

    Yes, she said, with a smug and enigmatic smile. But that’s a story for later, she said.  Maddening creature that she is, she still hasn’t told me about it. She will when she’s finished cleaning, she said.

    #5049
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    Bert tells me it’s new years eve today.  Looking forward to the champagne and fireworks I said to him. Joking of course.  The wonder is that I even remembered what such things were.  Bert looked sharply at me then, bit strange it was.  Then he relaxed a bit and had a peculiar secretive smile on his face.  Of course that’s easy to say in retrospect, that he had a secretive smile on his face. But little did I know at the time.

    I’d been in the doldrums ever since that hot air balloon thing didn’t materialize into anything. I told Bert about it, and he went off down to the Brundy place, gone ages he was,  and came back saying it was nothing.  He had an odd spring in his step though which puzzled me a bit at the time, but I was so deflated after the excitement of thinking something might actually happen for a change, and when it didn’t, well, I couldn’t be bothered to think about Bert acting funny.

    When Bert had a shower and asked me to iron ~ iron, I ask you! ~ his best shirt, I was more depressed than ever. If Bert goes mad as well, then where will we be? I was already wondering if I’d started hallucinating and if that was a sign of madness.  I’d been catching glimpses of things out of the corner of my eye all week.  I’d even heard stifled giggles.  It was unnerving, I tell you.

    When Bert suggested I have a shower as well, and asked if I still had that red sequinned dress I started to worry.  What was he thinking? Then ~ get this ~ he asked if I had red knickers on.

    Bert! I said, aghast.

    He mumbled something about it being a tradition in Spain to wear red underpants on new years eve, and surely I hadn’t forgotten?

    I gently reminded him that we weren’t in Spain, and he said, You’re damn right this isn’t Kansas anymore, hooted with laughter, and fairly skipped out of the room.

    I sat there for a bit pondering all this and then thought, Hell, why not? Why not wear red knickers and that old red sequinned dress?  Why not have a shower as well?

    And much to my surprise I found I was humming a song and smiling to myself as I went to find that old red dress.

    #4955
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    I had a long conversation (in my head, where all the best conversations are these days) with Corrie while I sat on the porch.  I think it’s easier to communicate with her because she’s trying to communicate with me too.  The others don’t come through so clear, I get images but not much in the way of conversation.  Anyway, she said Clove is with her on the raftboat, and that Clove has a little boy now, seven years old or so, named Pan. I don’t know if that’s short for a longer name or if that’s his name. Anyway, he’s a great little diver, she said, can hold his breath for longer than anyone, although lots of the kiddies are good divers now, so she tells me.  They send them out scouting in the underwater ruins. Pan finds all sorts of useful things, especially in the air pockets. They call those kiddies the waterlarks, if I heard that right.  Pan the Waterlark.

    Corrie said they’re in England, or what used to be called England, before it became a state of the American United States.  Scotland didn’t though, they rebuilt Hadrian’s wall to keep the Ameringlanders out (which is what they called them after America took over), and Wales rebuilt Offa’s Dyke to keep them out too.  When America fell into chaos (not sure what happened there, she didn’t say) it was dire there for years, Corrie said. Food shortages and floods mainly, and hardly any hospitals still functioning.   Corrie delivered Cloves baby herself she said, but I didn’t want all the details, just pleased to hear there were no complications.  Clove was back on her feet in no time in the rice paddies.

    A great many people left on boats, Corrie said. She didn’t know where they’d gone to.  Most of the Midlands had been flooded for a good few years now. At first the water went up and down and people stayed and kept drying out their homes, but in the end people either left, or built floating homes.  Corrie said it was great living on the water ~ it wasn’t all that deep and they could maneouver around in various ways. It was great sitting on the deck watching all the little waterlarks popping up, proudly showing their finds.

    I was thoroughly enjoying this chat with Corrie, sitting in the morning sun with my eyes closed, when the sky darkened and the red behind my eyelids turned black.  There was a hot air balloon contraption coming down,  and looked like it was heading for the old Bundy place.   Maybe Finly was back with supplies.  Maybe it was a stranger with news.  Maybe it was Devan.

    #4954
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Aunt Idle:

    Bert tells me it’s Christmas day today.  Christmas! I just looked at him blankly when he told me, trying to bring to mind what it used to be like. I can’t remember the last time Christmas was normal. Probably around fifteen years ago, just before the six years of fires started. It’s a wonder we survived, but we did. Even Mater.  God knows how old she is now, maybe Bert knows. He’s the one trying to keep track of the passing of time.   I don’t know what for, he’s well past his sell by date, but seems to cling on no matter what, like Mater. And me I suppose.

    We lost contact with the outside world over ten years ago (so Bert tells me, I wouldn’t know how long it was).  It was all very strange at first but it’s amazing what you can get used to.  Once you get over expecting it to go back to normal, that is.  It took us a long time to give up on the idea of going back to normal.  But once you do, it changes your perspective.

    But don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all bad.  We haven’t heard anything of the twins, not for a good ten years or more (you’d have to ask Bert how long) but I hear their voices in my head sometimes, and dream of them.  In my dreams they’re always on the water, on a big flat raft boat.  I love it when I dream of them and see all that water. Don’t ask me how, but I know they’re alright.

    Anyway like I said, it hasn’t been all bad. Vulture meat is pretty tasty if you cook it well.  The vultures did alright with it all, the sky was black with them at times, right after the droughts and the fires. But we don’t eat much these days, funny how you get used to that, too.  We grow mushrooms down in the old mines (Bert’s idea, I don’t know what we’d do without him).  And when the rains came, they were plentiful. More rain than we’d ever seen here.

    Well I could go on, but like I said, it’s Christmas day according to Bert.  I intend to sit on the porch and try and bring Prune and Devan and the twins to mind and see if I can send them a message.

    Prune’s been back to see us once (you’d have to ask Bert when it was).  She was on some kind of land sailing contraption, no good asking me what was powering the thing, there’s been no normal fuel for a good long time, none that’s come our way. Any time anyone comes (which is seldom) they come on camels or horses. One young family came passing through on a cart pulled by a cow once.  But Prune came wafting in on some clever thing I’d never seen the likes of before.  She didn’t stay long, she was going back to China, she said.  It was all very different there, she said. Not all back to the dark ages like here, that’s what she said.  But then, we were here in the first place because we liked a quiet simple life. Weren’t we? Hard to remember.

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