So this is what it feels like when doves cry. I again submitted to Three Minute Fiction and, yet again, I failed. I forgot about this little contest until the day before it was due, and typed this out rather quickly. The gimmick this time was something in the story had to be found. So here it is, my failed masterpiece:
Together We Go
Sister said if they find us, we’ll never see each other again. She said they’ll enslave us, either in the factories, or worse, at the pleasure houses.
“Young girls like you and me,” she said. “We’re daisies men can’t help but pick.”
I know where the gun is, and I know how to use it. If I ever see a Black Coat, I’m to get the gun and shoot her first, then turn it on myself, and she’ll do the same. “It’s better to be in Heaven together, than alone and in pain,” Sister said.
The dreams have come back recently. The Black Coats come in the rain and catch us sitting by the fire. I can smell the wood burning, it’s sweet and lingers as the doors burst open. The gun is in my hands, and I’m pulling the trigger, but what comes is nothing but misfire after misfire and Sister is gone out into the murky darkness and I’m alone, sitting in my nightgown from the time I was a child.
In the morning we take out one can of kidney beans and one can of peas. The beans we decide to share for breakfast and the peas will be our dinner. Until then, we go about our chores. I hunt for morels the way my father taught me before he died. He said they grow near decaying Elms and showed me how to identify them. What I remember is that they have a narrow leaf, so that’s what I look for. I take my time combing the forest floor, pushing away old leaves and broken twigs until I stumble upon a small patch of about a dozen. I pluck them, but leave the base so they’ll maintain their root and return next year.
Sister and I found the cabin six months ago. We waited three days and three nights before deeming it safe to enter, but even then we only allowed ourselves to sleep in it. The cold was too much. It drove us to shelter. The moment sunlight touched our eyelids, we rose and tiptoed back into the woods and waited for the owners to return. But they never came and at first snowfall, we claimed the cabin as our own, assuming that they too, whoever they were, had been taken by the war.
In the kitchen, I soaked the morels in a bath of salt water to rid them of insects. Sister entered with her usual greeting of “It’s me.” And I answered in kind. She entered the kitchen and rinsed her hands and dried them on a towel.
“Did you think I wouldn’t notice?” she asked.
“The peas are missing,” she said.
“Are you sure? Did we put them away?”
“You took them.”
“No I didn’t.”
But she turned and moved into the living room. Sister grabbed the drawer on the end table, pulled it open, and removed the gun.
“You have to do it.” she said. “I can’t.”
“We’re not doing anything.”
“We have to. Someone’s been here.”
“And they’re gone.”
There was silence then, thick and haunting. We went into the kitchen and grabbed what we could, then cautiously moved into the woods. Our feet had learned how to make little sound and fell back easily into their habit. We kept watch, moving like seasoned foresters, both knowing our strength was in being together, but fearing the day, if it ever were to come, we had to go alone.