The floral bouquet I’d gathered of spring dandelions and violets would prove tasty as a side salad this eve. The rabbit stew had been cooking all day and the meat was so tender it had fallen apart into thin strings in the pot. The only way I liked my rabbit was tender and stringy. The smell couldn’t help but force me to remember my first hunting experience here. Even though the little hoppers are abundant on this property, it still took me two days to catch one, once I finally set it in my head to. Now, I can snare a rabbit in fifteen minutes. Still, I prefer chicken meat to rabbit. Chickens are easier to catch, but are rarely seen. They hide, so squirrels are what I eat most. The one thing I dislike about making squirrel are those tiny bones. Trying to get the meat off them if you cook it whole is like shelling that crab for its precious meat at the eating room back home. The best thing about them is that they aren’t scarce, and they taste better than rabbit. Even at that they had evaded me this morning, so it was rabbit I found myself eating tonight.
I removed the dandelions and violets from the counter and began plucking the pieces from the stalks. I used only the leaves from the dandelions and only the petals of the violet, then threw the scraps out the door for the rabbits to pick at. I slipped the top of the new wooden plate from the old one below it, to uncover the herbs and checked them for moistness. The parsley and basil were still damp enough to enjoy fully. Putting a few large pieces of each into the salad, I reached for the hanging leather bag near the window and added several drops of apple vinegar from it. Carmella was now on the table waiting for me. I threw her a strip of rabbit meat which she engulfed in a quick moment and then I sat down to eat. Once again I wondered who they would be sending and when he would get here. My mind was patient, but my heart grew anxious. Did Tarron really tell me it could be a year or two, or had it been so long I’d forgotten? Living alone, I suppose I’ve forgotten some things about humanity, but in all certainty they had said a year or two. Either they were mistaken, or he was late.
I hoped that I would remember social skills when he got here. I had worried about communication so I’d kept up with my languages by speaking to Carmella in each of them throughout my day. I wondered which language he would speak. Which pod would he come from, Tee-Pod, Crue-pod, or one of the others? I had done my part. Where was he? It had crossed my mind before that father couldn’t fix the machine, but of course he would fix it. Aside from being head of the science division, he was a Seer too, after all. He would view the Pool and realize that I was here alone. He would never tolerate that. Perhaps the earth had already died. What if no one ever came? I was so tired of being alone.
I was special, Tarron had said, special. My genes are perfect for travel, I have a photographic memory and my IQ was among the highest in the pods. From a group of a thousand I was picked to be the first through, the healthiest child of the Tee-Pod Community, genetically the strongest. My chance of surviving travel was the greatest, they’d said. Ironic as it were, for all the studying and training, my swim turned out to be simple for me. It was nothing more than stepping through the wet puddle, feeling a blast of bright light burning at my eyes, even with them closed, then a moment of walking into a dream. Finally, there’d been a feeling as if a hard smack to the back from a wide board. Then it was done. I rolled into the grasses, picked myself up off the ground, and here I was on this hillside. When the others came through, the ground shook and the light sucked them back into itself. They had not survived the passage and had been pulled away into the watery black tunnel. Before we swam, Tarron had said another would be sent through a year or two later, a male, for physical strength. He’d said “Wait and do not wander from the place”.
Carmella climbed up to the edge of the shallow bowl and helped herself to more rabbit string. I picked up a violet petal and let it melt on my tongue. Sixteen, now.
“Happy Birthday,” I said, and then swallowed it down.
Genre – Fantasy / Romance
Rating – NC17