I push open the storeroom door of E&E, determined to hustle in the three boxes without any help. I know if he hears, he’ll come running to help me.
Letting the door slam behind me, I wander down the panelled corridor and manage to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror we keep in the hall.
It’s funny, really. I never really tried to imagine what I looked like without the vaccinations, but I’m sure if I did, it wasn’t what I am now.
It turns out that I am a redhead. No, not like my now fiancé Edith, but a darker red. Like auburn. My skin colour isn’t exactly pale white, but it isn’t copper either. Somewhere in the middle. My eyes turned out to be a warm chocolate colour. We all found that humorous.
By all, I mean Liliana, Amelia, Edith and I. After unwiring the mine field that day, our whole city was flooded by rebels determined to take back what was ours. Even though it wasn’t that hard, it wasn’t easy either. A great deal of government soldiers managed to survive the bombing of the central square and most of them put up a fight.
What’s a few hundred against thousands though? They knew when to surrender and surrender they did.
It wasn’t just soldiers that managed to survive, it turns out more than two hundred of our Society had managed to escape Margaret’s wrath. We found them hidden in basements, attics and even hidden compartments. What shocked us the all the most was how they managed to stay hidden and that’s when Edith went from being my worst enemy to my hero. Sure, he dragged me away from my best friend when she needed me and that’s something we both know I’ll never forget, but he’s also one of the few soldiers that staged their own rebellion against Margaret by hiding people away in houses already searched and turning a blind eye to their existence. That’s how so many of the Society managed to survive.
Amelia and I managed to locate the whereabouts of the hospital patients and staff members from the clinic. We were sent back by the leader of the rebel army to shut down any live bombs that remained. When Amelia said that room was packed with bombs, she was serious. She didn’t even need half of what was in that room to blow up the square.
It took us a good hour or so to shut them all down and toss them in the corner, but it came apparent at the half hour mark that there was something else down there besides bombs.
I had straightened when I saw the outline of a door peeking out and shook Amelia’s soldier to get her attention. What was it?
Our previously slow and peaceful work soon turned into a rushed thing as we hurried to shut down all the bombs so we could see what was inside.
The door opened up into yet another basement that had to be at least twice the length and width of the hospital. As soon as had opened the door, there was a rush of cheering that had us freaking out until we realised we had stumbled across a good fifty survivors. Plus maybe close to twenty medical staff.
Apparently Margaret had them locked up down here because she needed some people alive to help reboot the city once everything was in order. This meant she was having food sent to them via a tiny wedge of a window that was located in the first basement. That’s why that soldier was milling around the day I got caught. He was waiting to take in the supplies to feed them.
It took a few days to rein in all the soldiers and put out the flames that were eating the city a part, but after that, it all happened so quickly. Our city wasn’t the last one under control like we thought. There were more and there still are today. Once they managed to help get our city into a better state, they were off again, ready to take on the next one. They didn’t walk here like I thought at the time when I first saw them waiting. They had vehicles, just like we did in the camp. Hunting through the only museum that survived the city’s fire and explosions, they were able to find a few more to add to their collection. Thank God for solar panels or they wouldn’t have been able to start them.
When they left for the next city, they recruited any males that wanted to go as long as they fitted certain requirements. Even though I tried to hide it, I was a little sad when Edith declared to Amelia, Liliana and I that he was one of them. It was just after that when Amelia than declared that she too was going, but only for one city take over. Then she would be back.
I had hugged them both goodbye.
I guess it’s these moments that have led us here. Four years after Alice had died and the rebels one us back our city, I find myself the co-owner of a café. The main owner being Edith. I don’t know what came over me, but as soon as I saw him outside my assigned apartment door, I greeted him with a hug and kiss. That’s what kicked of our relationship and three years later; I’m running a business with him as well as being engaged. E&E. Edith and Eliza.
After Amelia and Edith had left, Liliana and I were assigned positions in what was to be our new government system. This time, a democracy. Not a communism. It was only for a short time though, until they got in some convert governor from another city to come sort out the place. After that, every thing became more relaxed.
Amelia is now a physical trainer, something that isn’t all that surprising. Liliana’s gone on to managing a new shopping centre that was opened up in place of an old one. In our way, we’re all leaders now. I’m just sorry Alice couldn’t be here to experience freedom in it’s most pure form.
She plays a big part in our bakery. Even though it’s called E&E, the actual delicacies, the one’s Edith have invented anyway, are named after her. Seeder… the A cake... she’s everywhere in my life now. I’m just sorry I have no picture of her to remember her by, but than again, I have my memories and memories can never be replaced.
I walk into the back kitchen and heft the three boxes filled with kitchen supplies, mainly flour, onto the bench. Edith appears around the corner just as I’m doing so and I have to laugh at his hurt facial expression. It still feels weird, laughing, but I like it. Alice would want me to do it more often. I just wish my ruined throat made it sound better. Not like a choking seal.
“You should have called for help,” he frowns as he unstacks the boxes, peering inside. “How did you carry all of this?”
I mimic lifting weights and he laughs under his breath.
“Leazer Beazer, you have to let me help you.”
I shake my head and cross my arms. As if hearing my thoughts, he snorts and says just what I’m thinking.
“That’s right. You’re a strong and independent woman. That’s why I love you.”
My insides soften a little at his words and I smile.
Edith goes to hug me, but I step out of his reach quickly and mimic what I need to. Point to myself, make a heart shape with my hands, point to him and than hold up to fingers. He grins and I smile back.
Than I let myself be pulled into his embrace and I sigh at how wonderful this all is.
How wonderful this new world has become.