I was going to schedule this post yesterday to be sure it got up, but I forgot to! Well, turns out I have time before we go, so here it is:
Amelia walked away from her house, in the opposite direction of the river; slipping between beetle-chewed flower stems (that were as thick as tree trunks to her) without a path. Her steps were light and bouncy—as they always were—regardless of the famine, and she swung a bucket in her hand as she skipped along.
She stopped next to a massive milkweed stalk and fingered the lowest leaf (the only one she could reach). It was punctuated with holes. Amelia carefully held her bucket under it, then snapped it off, and watched the thick, white milk pour down.
Ryan flapped up as she stood holding her container under the rich, milky flow. “There you are!”
“Sounds like you had some trouble finding me?” Amelia asked.
Ryan landed, and took the bucket so she didn’t have to hold it. “You’re not usually this far away from the Bluestone.”
“I suppose not. I should’ve told you! I’m sorry. What did the Council decide?”
“Nothing,” Ryan answered despondently. “We stayed cooped up in there all day and argued—that’s all. We talked in five circles, agreed to meet again day after tomorrow, and broke up.” The milk having stopped, he set down the bucket, fumbled in his pocket, pulled out a little parcel, and unwrapped it; revealing a wedge of a dandelion fritter. “It’s all I have; refreshments were scarce.”
“Thank you,” Amelia said taking it. “Did you get any?”
“I was given only that.”
Amelia tore the fritter-scrap in half. “Share it with me then.”
She picked up the bucket in one hand, eating with the other. Ryan took the bucket from her, and they started for Amelia’s house.
“I’ll come check in with you on Wednesday, before the next council,” Ryan said. “And be back to tell you if we came to any decision.”
“Thank you so much. Here we are; I’ll take the bucket. See you Wednesday then. You know were to find me?”
“I do now—unless you go somewhere else unexpected!” Ryan raised his wings and flew off.
Amelia went inside, poured the milk into clay jars, laid scraps of leaves on the tops, and tied grass around them to secure the make-shift lids; then put them on a shelf and set about to get some dinner. She should be less hungry, after what Ryan had given her, but the small sample had only made her realize how hungry she was. Nevertheless, the fritter needed to count as part of her meal. Amelia lifted a small package off her shelf and unwrapped it—revealing a single raisin, made from a wild grape. It was the last of her Winter store. She cut it in half, wrapped one piece back up, and sat down to eat the other, wondering if there would be any food at the end of this beetle-infested Summer to store up for the cold.