Book: The Family (a working chapter)

The old man turned down the dirt road towards the family’s house just as the boy awoke from another fitful sleep. He glanced over at the old man.

“Almost there, my boy!” the old man said cheerfully, his milky eyes glimmering.

As they pulled up to the weathered house, the young children gathered around their pick-up.

“Yay, our food is here!” the youngest shouted with joy, jumping up and down at the old man’s window while he chuckled.

“And our friends,” the mother said gladly. She embraced the young boy, and he welcomed her warmth, the softest of her body.

“I’m so sorry to hear of your father passing. He was such a good man, and…I…I’m just so sorry dear.”

“It’s okay,” the boy said when she finally released him, rubbing his eyes.

“Not sure when we’ll have more to bring. You know how it is…even the weeds struggle to grow…” the old man’s voice trailed off, his gleaming eyes fickered for an instant. But he quickly brightened up, “As always, dear, take what you need.”

Surely, he knew he didn’t have enough to give the family all they needed. The mother, of course, took the few bags set aside for her, leaving the rest for the boy’s last two deliveries. They all helped carry the food inside, and once in the kitchen, the children began going through the few bags, exclaiming over the bounty.

“Ma’am, I also have something for you. Special, from my Dad,” the boy said quietly amongst the uproar, lightly tugging on her skirt.

The mother looked tenderly at the note as the boy handed it to her, leaving it folded.

“Thank you,” she said. “I’ll read it once my husband returns.”

“He’s out looking to see if there’s any fruit on our trees!” said one of the children.

“Haha, there’s never any fruit! Dad has a….YELLOW thumb!” said another. The kids all giggled uncontrollably.

“Those trees didn’t grow fruit even years before all the bombs,” said the mother, smiling, shaking her head. “But still he looks. Everyday.”

A look of despair crossed her face, but she quickly recovered, hiding the deep fear, grief she had for her family.

“Well, we’ll be moving along. We have some more deliveries and don’t want this precious food to go to waste!”

The mother bowed her head in agreement, embracing both good-bye. She held the boy a little longer, a little tighter. As they left, the children were still rummaging through the food, giggling.

After they were gone but a few minutes, the father walked in, his head down, hands behind his back.

“Yay, Daddy! Look, we got some food!”

The father looked at his children, their innocent happiness causing a great grin to spread across his face.

“Honey….Jefferson sent us a note with his son. I was waiting for you,” the mother said, her voice catching.

The father nodded and, as if they knew something important was about to happen, the kids settled down. For the first time in the family’s home, a pin-drop could be heard, and the mother opened the tiny piece of paper.

As she read aloud, each family member looked from one to the other, and then back again. Losing interest, the children returned to their play, but the mother and father continued to stare at each other. The father, ever so slowly, brought his arms from around his back. The mother’s breathing quickened.

In his hands was one single, giant, peach.

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