I clawed at the earth until my fingers hit cold flesh. Then I dug faster. But my haste was too late, even I knew that—or I would have known if there was any reason left in me. I was past the point of reason, just as my father was past the point of saving.
My mother’s warm voice filled my ears.
“Stop,” she whispered, and she dragged me from the shallow grave and pressed me toward a waiting pair of arms.
“Take her to Mrs. Rogers,” she whispered from a million miles away. “Don’t leave her alone.”
Then the strong arms led me away into the blurry haze that I am still trying to wake up from.
"Maybe you could just pick one photograph, honey,” my mother urges me, as she looks at the jumble of snapshots spread across the floor. I want to press the issue. After all, what’s a few extra pictures tucked away in a book? But I hold my tongue. She has been through enough.
I stare at the photos before settling on one that contains all of us. My mother and father are smiling for the camera, my head is thrown back in laughter, and my cat Cyan is frozen in mid-leap from my lap. We all look much younger in the picture. But then, no one can afford cameras since The Unrest started several years ago.
I tuck the picture between the pages of the well-worn book I got for my last birthday, and stuff it all into my cramped backpack.