Emily sat on the bed she shared with both Lily and Ben, she had changed out of her sticky clothing into a simple blue cotton dress. She desperately wished for a shower, to rid herself of the dried sweat and grime which clung to her skin. Of course, that was not possible. Lily had clearly been studying the letter that had started all of this, it was lying on her side table and Emily pulled it onto the bed, smoothing it down against the sheets. She was alone now but could hear the giggles of Ben as Lily entertained him in the lounge. She read the letter for what must have been the hundredth time.
The letter had arrived two days ago, on the 13th of January, it was strange, no doubt, and both girls had felt a deep unease upon reading it. The letter was from Christopher, the scruffy haired kid who had lived across the street from their childhood home in Berkshire. He had been drafted for military service nearly three years ago, at the age of eighteen. They hadn’t seen, nor heard from him, since. That, however, was not the strange part. The letter, although innocent at first glance, held information, that if they had interpreted correctly, would mean the end of life in London.
Emily’s mind wandered back to those peaceful days in the countryside. The grass was a green in her memories, she was unsure how true her minds rendering of the time was as it had been many years since she had seen green grass but, in her mind, it was an endless field of vivid jade, spattered with daisies that they would pick for flower crowns. The first time they had met Chris was after a particularly cruel storm, the air was crackling with electricity and the smell of nature and vitality. Branches were strewn over the field and the girls were collecting them, Emily couldn’t have been much older the five. Chris was standing by the small river on the edge of the field, he was tossing branches into the water, watching them race downstream. Lily had spotted him first and, with the courage that Emily lacked, ran down to meet him. Emily trailed behind her, shy of the older boy. The three became fast friends, meeting daily at the river to play together. Chris was a quiet child, introspective and somewhat wise beyond his years. Emily revered him for his knowledge of the world, she was beginning to understand that her own parents shielded her from the dangers outside, preferring instead to indulge them in tales of princesses and castles. Chris was the first one to tell them that things were not as idyllic as they assumed. He told the girls his parents were preparing for an unknown battle, he said something was coming, something bad. Chris, seeing that Emily was frightened by his words, invented a game. He called it ‘The End of The World.’ Each day the children would squirrel away food and supplies and meet by the old oak tree, which stood at the bank of the river, the soil beneath it had been eroded by the water, leaving roots exposed below. If you shimmied through the tight root system in just the right spot there was a perfectly formed bunker, where they hid all their treasures. Chris and Lily would invent fantastical stories of fleeing from dragons and demons, they would fend them off with spells and swords until only the three of them remained, safe in the arms of the giant oak. Years passed this way and the children grew, until eventually, they could no longer fit through the tangled roots and their hideaway was abandoned for new games, most of which did not involve Emily.
Over the years that passed under the oak tree, life had changed, slowly, but dramatically. No one seemed to see it coming. The summers drew out longer, and the dramatic storms that had plagued the land diminished until finally a year passed and no rain fell. It was that same year that the girl’s mother never made it home, a fact that Christopher knew all too well. He was the one who saw it happen.
Go to Chapter 4
Copyright © 2019 Katy Moran
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This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental.