By Casey Douglass
as part of #fridayflash
The last log in the makeshift fireplace cracked like a gunshot.
‘Mum!’ Maxwell cried, his eyes searching her out in the dim space.
‘It’s okay it’s okay!’ Wendy soothed as she scuttled over on her hands and knees. ‘It was just the log!’
‘It frightened me!’
‘It’s because it’s empty in here Max, the sound echoes off the walls.’
She cradled the sniffing boy, the first sign of a snot bubble beginning to form under his sooty nose.
‘How long are we staying here?’ His eyes locked onto hers, dams of tears ready to flow whatever her answer.
‘We are going in a few minutes, now that we are awake. Might as well make use of the day.’
‘I know Max,’ she whispered as she held his face to her chest. She glanced around the abandoned garage, the early light of dawn fingering its way under the heavy metal shutter.
She lifted the boy’s head and ran a finger over his cracked lips. ‘Time to seal. No point waiting til after breakfast as we’ve got nothing left.’
His tears began to flow as she reached behind her for the small yellow tube. The one with red writing and gas mask pictograms scrawled across its metallic surface. The stuff that seemed to last a perfect twelve hours. Max sat surprisingly still as she squeezed some along his lower lip, then gently close his mouth. She pinched his lips for a sixty count and let go. ‘How’s that?’
He sniffed and nodded. She felt his eyes on her as she did the same thing to herself, the clear gloopy liquid flowing into the damaged skin of her lips. A tear dripped down the side of her face.
Once the glue was firm, she corralled Max into helping her tidy their sleeping things. She gave a tight smile when she realised that a lack of provisions also meant a lack of washing and rinsing. She left the lone oat bar wrapper from their bedtime snack to dance across the concrete floor, frolicking in the dust and grime.
Both stood near the shutter, the first howls ululating outside at the first sign of the sun. She glanced at Max and was warmed by his hobbled smile. With a nonchalance her stinging lips protested, she lifted the shutter and guided them both out into the glare. After all, she thought, they had nothing to fear, the creatures couldn’t get in, not as along as they had glue.