The Last Can of Mixed Fruit

Contributor: Richard D. Priebe III

- -
Jennifer carried a bale of hay past the rusted and rotting Volvo to the pen by the stable. Hershey was waiting.
She broke and spread the bale, and watched as Hershey ate his breakfast. Her own stomach was growling, but the old horse had to come first. She was lucky to have Hershey.
Jennifer went back to the house and flipped the light switch. Even after four years without power, she occasionally forgot that anything had changed—it was better to forget. Still, she couldn’t help but wish that Jim was with her now, and not off fighting in the desert. Sometimes, when she lay alone in the darkness of her bedroom, she hated him for leaving her by herself, even if it wasn’t his fault. He had been drafted. She always felt bad after.
Jim was taken just months after their wedding. It had been so unexpected. One day the pumps just closed. That night the news stations said there was no more oil in the Middle East. The government was investigating. Then there was no more news—no more electricity. The “draft” followed soon after.
Jennifer remembered the day the government came for Jim. It was a Sunday morning, and Jim and Jennifer were still in bed. They came into the house with tactical rifles pointing. They gave Jim fifteen minutes to pack. They watched Jim get dressed. They pointed their rifles. They watched Jim kiss Jennifer goodbye. They wouldn’t leave Jim and Jennifer alone for a second. They just stared with their tactical rifles pointing. Then Jim was gone, and Jennifer was left in their bed, naked and alone.

Jennifer pulled a can of fruit cocktail from the cupboard and took the utility knife from her pocket. The can opener had fallen apart months ago. She quickly cut a jagged circle around the top of the tin and peeled it back, exposing the fruit within. It was her last can, and she wondered if Hershey would make it to the food center in town—she had put it off as long as she could.
There were only a handful of people at the center when Jennifer arrived, and she thought back to when the government first started the program. The line of hungry people had stretched for over a mile. She’d been served, but later heard that the food ran out soon after. It seemed like every time she came to town there were less people. She guessed pretty soon there’d be nobody left.
When Jennifer reached the counter there were only a few cans remaining. A mother waited in line behind Jennifer with a little girl. Jennifer’s stomach groaned. She asked the woman behind the counter when the next wagon was due. It wouldn’t arrive for three days. Jennifer left the cans on the counter and walked back to Hershey. Pretty soon there’d be nobody left.

- - -
RICHARD PRIEBE received his MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University in 2008 and has recently enrolled in their MFA program. He lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife and two young daughters.
Read more »
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

Help keep Linguistic Erosion alive! Visit our sponsors! :)- - -