I woke up and there was really no way of telling what time it was, and it didn’t matter, either. It was dark, totally dark, black as blind, and we were getting used to night being that way when there wasn’t a moon, like tonight, or when it was cloudy. We had both, actually, and the night air was still as death. There were no frogs or crickets or bird sounds at all. Kim rolled over and I thought she was awake but her breath, the only sound in the room, was deep and steady. I remember that night because we would find out she was pregnant with our first, Kyle, in less than a week. But that night, I sat and listened to my wife breathe, and I wondered how it would all end, and when. We, everybody that was left, had pretty much given up. We knew that sooner or later the food would run out, and guarding people who was farming took two to watch while one worked, and it was incredibly hard. It really didn’t matter, because what little food we grew we are as fast as it was ready, and we were running out of dried beans and rice. Life felt bad enough, but in a week’s time we would discover Kim was pregnant, and I had no idea how to bring a child into a world that was ending. I sat up at night and wondered how people stuck in wars raised their kids, and how they ever survived being in a battle zone with little ones. The truth is a lot of civilians were killed in wars and this was a lot like that. But this night was one of the very last night I had, even if I didn’t know it, without that worry on me. It was enough to think about what life would be like when the food was gone, or if there was a tornado or a hurricane.
“We had a cat one time,” Kim sat up and just started talking, “and I called her Tapioca. There was another cat named Pudding, and the two of them became best buddies. They were could mousers, and they both liked to bring in dead things. Mama would have a fit because Tapioca liked to bring live things into the house sometimes, and they would get away. We had Pudding fixed already but Tapioca got pregnant before we could get her to a vet and the next thing we knew that one had a mess of kittens, seven of them, and not a single one of them looked like their mama. They were getting big enough to give away and one day Tapi comes in with a half-dead rabbit. She dropped in on the floor in front of the box where the kittens were all sleeping and when the rabbit hit the floor it bolted. Kittens went running, the rabbit was bouncing off stuff trying get away, Tapi was chasing it but we had hard wood floors that had been polished with polyurethane on them and Tapi couldn’t run as fast as she wanted, or fast enough to catch the rabbit again, mama started yelling for me to get the rabbit out of the house and I couldn’t stand up I was laughing so hard.” Kim lay back and giggled like a little girl. “We got the rabbit out and didn’t let Tabi chase it anymore. The next day I came home and daddy told me he had found homes for all the kittens, that people at work had wanted them. I believed that for a long, long time, but when I got older I realized he had taken them off somewhere and killed them.” Kim stopped giggling. “It’s on odd thing,” she finally said, “what people tell their young’uns. I mean they all say they want to hear the truth but they lie about death, and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and they’ll tell you everything in the woods in dangerous to keep you from going out there.” Kim stopped talking and our hands met in the darkness, mine trying to find hers and hers looking for me.
I laid back down with Kim and held her and eventually she went back to sleep.