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There is a field.
There is no growth, or any sign of life. There once was, but that was in better times. A rusty swing set slouches in the far right corner of the barren land, its metal bending from lack of care. The swings are gone. Only one chain stays connected to the metal set. It creaks in the silence, although there has been no wind to push it. Not for a very long time.
I stand, staring at the lone chunk of metal.
Once upon a time, children played here. They laughed and sang and jumped and danced. There was a rose bush. I used to hide in it with Emily. We would tell stories and secrets, while our parents and friends looked for us.
But no one would ever find us.
Who would hide in a rose bush? The thorns would cut you, and it wouldn’t be worth your time.
I would. As long as Emily was there. I would do anything, as long as she was there. I would circle the world and fight a dragon and assassinate the president if that’s what I thought she wanted.
But there is no more president.
No tears will fall onto this field today. I finished my crying long ago.
Long before the rose bush finally withered and died. Long before everyone I knew left this dying town to escape to somewhere better. They say Europe might still be safe. The drought might not have reached it. But I stay. I always will, until the food runs out. I will watch and remember this field, and stand at the spot of my dead rosebush. And when I die, I will be reunited with her at last.
A small breeze begins to blow.
It rouses the dust, sends it spinning away into the distance. It will never return to this desolate place. It is gone like everything I knew. Now even the ashes of my past have been carried away. In earnest I begin to follow the breeze, begging it to leave me something, anything to hold onto.
I walk for two days.
I finally collapse at an abandoned highway rest stop. It had made great business at first, with everyone fleeing: sold its food and water for substantial prices, thinking of becoming rich. Until money lost its worth. Then they fled with everyone and everything else, leaving behind their lives, just as I should have done.
I crawl into the building.
Broken glass and broken packets of spoiled food litter the floor. A small trickle of water flows past me on the floor. How it went unnoticed while so many needed it is beyond me, but I help myself. Lapping off the floor, like the broken human being I am.
A body lies next to me.
It is facedown in the center of the floor. It breaks the trickle of water into two separate streams, which trail away into the darkness. It hasn’t been dead for a long time. Its clothes are still completely attached, and it has shoes. Which meant that it was dead after the storm of people had fled, a storm of people that would strip a human body bare if it meant their own survival.
I fall into a deep and uneasy sleep.
When I wake from the nightmares, I find that the body is still there. I start to laugh, thinking of my childhood nightmares of zombies and dead things coming to get me… A dream that has become reality, as people resort to anything to stay alive. Sunken faces smashing in windows, Cars sending corpses flying as they try to make their escape. I shiver, even though it hasn’t been cold in months. There is no one to protect me from my nightmares anymore.
My only friend is a dead body.
I decide to stay in this place. Signs have been torn down; blood smears the tiles next to my face, and open packets of moldy food lay everywhere. But there is water, thus survival. Which is the only thing anyone ever seems to care about. And when it runs out? I’ll move on, just as any human would, for the rest of my life.
I envy my peaceful friend.