The sun is shining, the sky is blue with few white clouds prancing about, all should be well, instead annamaria will be going out shopping again today.
I get tired of nagging at her about writing, instead, today, I’ve decided to let you have a look at A New Era. You need to realize that A New Era is a collection of short stories revolving around a disaster that destroys much of the Earth. It is a story of survival and rebuilding. Each of the characters in their own story all end up in the same place at the end.
A New Era, and for which the book gets its title, is the story of Mandy, a teenager who finds herself alone in the world.
Here is a small excerpt.
All afternoon Mandy felt uneasy, but couldn’t figure out why. The morning had been fun for a Saturday. She managed to escape home chores and go to Short Pump mall with best friend Carol, who introduced her to her brother’s best friend, a sergeant in the armed forces. He looked gorgeous, muscular and fit. His cropped hair added to the baby face look that attracted her to him. To save her life she couldn’t remember his name only that it started with the letter M. She would ask Carol later. In town on leave, he came home to visit his parents and close friends. She couldn’t get him out of her mind.
On the deck of her parents’ house, Mandy leaned on the banister looking at the trees in the yard. She counted them. Ten trees her mom had planted through the years, all quite small, since daddy kept killing her trees. She always moped about the Yoshino Cherry he killed, and the white dogwood, the pink dogwood, the peach tree, the Japanese maple, two of them actually, the pear tree, and some other one she couldn’t remember anymore. How could one man manage to kill so many trees baffled her.
A gust of wind blew her hair back, she breathe the fresh air deep into her lungs. Soon it would be time for dinner and she still hadn’t figured out why she felt so uneasy. She shrugged and walked inside to see if Mother needed help to set the table. Daddy stood in the middle of the kitchen kissing Mother.
She twisted her mouth in disgust. “Must you do that while I’m around?”
He lifted his head and grinned. “And where did you come from?”
As if he didn’t know she would be home at this hour. He demanded his daughter be home every day at this hour for family dinner. Sometimes parents just didn’t make sense.
“Seeing that the two of you are busy, I’m going to my room.”
“Dear, please set the table for me.” The two of them walked out. They climb the stairs and close their bedroom door.
How nice! Mandy wiped down the table and set it. She was always stuck doing the grunt work, she, never her sister. Life just wasn’t fair, not for her anyway, her sister was altogether a different story. Right on cue, as she finished the little chores, the Mother and Daddy returned.
Mother walked to the stove and pulled out the vegetable lasagna she made from scratch, she made the spaghetti at home from flower, water and God knows what else.
“Will you please get the salad bowl from the refrigerator?” She looked at Mandy, sitting at her usual place.
Twisting her face into the ugliest contortion possible, she got up opened the fridge, pulled the wooden bowl out and set it on the table. “Did you put dressing on it already?”
“Where’s Deb?” Dad looked around.
“She had to work. Her boss called her in because the girl working the shift got sick.”
He nodded and sat at the table.
After dinner, the evening dragged. Mandy jittered around the house, finding no peace, her mind floating around this M guy, whose name she couldn’t even remember. Carol came over for the scheduled sleepover, makeover night. They did their nails and gave each other facials, then sat on Mandy’s queen size bed talking about gorgeous Mitchell. At last, she knew his name.
Terrorizing screams from the street woke the girls. They both ran to the window to see what caused the commotion. Two houses across the street burned, flames licking the sky. These terrible baseball and basketball sized fireballs rained on the streets. The sky glowed orange. Dad rushed into the room, grabbed them by the wrists and pulled them down stairs and under the marble staircase.
She could see the panic in his eyes. “We might have a chance under here.”
“We’re going to die, aren’t we?” Carol whispered with shaky voice.
Mandy hugged Mother and Daddy. “I love you.” To her sister she said, “No one ever had a better sis. Love you.” And taking Carol’s hand squeezed it. “You never know, we might make it after all.”
Unable to move or see, her body ached in places she’d never felt before. The acrid air hurt her nose, but she feared breathing through her mouth. A wail for help escaped her lungs, but no one heard. “Is anyone alive?” No one answered. Flat on her stomach she moved her pasty tongue around dry mouth. It tasted like burnt. With eyes closed, she listened for movement. Nothing. Oh God! Are you going to let me die? What about my family are they all dead? Darkness surrounded her and she couldn’t tell what time of day it was or how long she’d been buried. Thinking about it, she remembered the shaking with the fire. It must have been an earthquake. That’s the only explanation plausible for all the rubble that covered her. To keep sane and make sure someone would hear her, she sang all the songs that came to mind.
With the passing of time she began to lose hope, believing she’d die buried in the rubble. Like Mother always said, in times of desperation turn to God. Mandy prayed hard, over and over, Hail Mary after Hail Mary. It brought some peace and she felt ready to meet the Maker. She went back to singing to keep her mind busy.
“Can you hear me?” A muffled voice reached her ear.
Oh God! Thank you for answering my prayer. “I’m down here. Please get me out. Please don’t leave me here.”
“Calm down and save your energy. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to dig you out, please calm down and conserve your energy.”
The words brought on panic. “You won’t leave me here will you?”
“Not a chance. Now chill and let me work.”
Rubble and rock smashed, resounding in her ears. As the person worked away, Mandy relaxed. After a long while, a gush of air swept across her face. She breathe deep, filling her lungs with cleaner air, although it still smelled of burnt.
A light touch on her leg startled her. “Something’s crawling on my legs, hurry up.” Even she heard the panic in her voice
“Glad to see you have feeling in your legs, that’s a good sign. Now I’m going to raise the marble slab off your back.”
With no more pressure on the back, she rolled and heard many bones crack. She froze. Two strong arms picked her up and carried her away from the rubble, sitting her in the middle of what looked like a road.
“How are you feeling?” He crouched, watching.
She looked at his sooth-blackened face and recognized Mitchell. Someone she had a small connection to. After releasing a sigh of relief, she threw her arms around his neck and broke down. He held her.
“Will you be ok while I look for survivors?”
She nodded, and he walked back to the house to search for other survivors. He took some time and then moved on to the house next door. When he came back, he helped her up and took her away.
She knew her family died. While buried, she never heard any movement or words other than her own. Mandy had no tears then and had no tears now, the good cry she had in Mitchell’s arms left her dry. The burning sensation in her stomach, for lack of food and water, climbed into her throat. Her weak legs wobbled and she almost fell. Mitchell looked down, with one swoop gathered her in his arms and carried her to his small camp.
“How long was I buried?”
He looked over. Fussing over the small fire he built to warm some food, he handed Mandy a can of Progresso minestrone soup and bottled water. “Three days.”
“Have you found any one else alive?”
He grabbed a blanket and threw it over her shoulders. “Not yet.”
“What about your family?”
He placed another log in the fire. “Gone like yours.”
She put the empty can down and he filled it half way.
“If you can have more, please try.” He paused before looking her in the eye. “I only have one sleeping bag and the nights are pretty cold. Are you going to mind sharing it?”
Her heart missed a beat before she shook her head, afraid to speak.
A grin arched his lips. “Thanks, I don’t really like feeling cold while I sleep. In the morning, I will pack the little I have and we’ll move to another neighborhood to search for survivors. If we don’t hurry we might be too late.”
Squashed against his body, his warm breath on the back of her neck, she didn’t know whether to rejoice for being alive or pity herself for being alone.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the piece.