Riggwelter #28

Page 61

Survivors

Beth’s laid up in bed, arms flopped heavy in her lap, sulking. Yes, she does need all this extra bed rest, even if Zach does roll his eyes about it. Of all the crap Beth expected that city boy to catch by marrying her, this had never lit in her mind. But she’s been real good about it—mainly. She only gets up for the toilet. Or to stuff her face. Or to rearrange perfume bottles on the chifforobe. Before she knows it, she’s up again. Wandering to the empty nursery, to the changing table, to an open swaddle, its flaps stretched out to forever await its first wrapping. Back in bed again. The air tastes dead, tainted with the crusty sweetness of dry flowers on the sill. The flowers’ heads bow to their chests, mourning themselves. The impulse is too great; she pads over to the Ball jar and lowers the flowers, real solemn, into the waste. Not much point to an empty Ball jar.

The screen door slaps the frame behind her. She plods across the grass, slogging through puddles in the sod, through broken branches and clusters of leaves: the fallout from a recent storm. The sun is as heavy on her shoulders as if it was balanced there. Even just crossing the lawn, her ratty nightshirt sticks to her still-bloated belly. Her lungs are soaking sponges, legs no lighter than sacks of mulch. In a flash of faintness, bitsy little lights twinkle all around her. She drags on.

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