I’m working on a post-apocalyptic story for a current project. I’m really getting into this story and have already shared it with some people for critiques and feedback. The ending I had originally written was not satisfactory so I’m reaching out to my blogging community for some inspiration. Take a look at the story below and comment or email me some suggestions about directions I could potentially take this piece. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks!
The Ameri Brit Mom
by Lauren Sisley
Grandma was lucky that she didn’t live to see the war.
Not that I knew much about her, but what little I had learned from the funeral gave me the impression that she wouldn’t have been too upset to have missed the bloodbath. Over a six day period I joined my parents in a strange country. Growing up in my American bubble I didn’t anticipate the differences I would experience in England. Dad prepared me the best he could, but the country had changed so much since he lived there as a child. If he had it his way Mom and I would have stayed behind while he settled the matters of Grandma’s estate. But as always, mom won the battle.
Six days ago my life was safe. I was going to school, playing soccer with my U16 team, and reading all the fantasy fiction I could get my hands on. It’s funny how death and war can turn a world upside down.
Two weeks ago when Dad got the call from his cousin in Southampton the discussion began about whether or not we should all pack up and head to England as a family.
“Ainsley and I have never been before. We would like to see the country and know what life was like for you back home.” Mom pleaded with Dad one night over dinner.
“It isn’t safe, Lillian.”
“That isn’t so. All of the rebels are on the continent. England has not been attacked and they won’t be as long as Cooper is head of the military.”
Dad was reluctant, but eventually he gave in as he usually does to mom’s breathtaking brown eyes and perfectly symmetric smile.
Yesterday was the funeral. We spent the days leading up to the funeral sorting through boxes and visiting lawyers to reconcile the estate and Grandma’s will. It was raining on the day of the funeral. I met several of my second cousins for the very first time as they came to pay their respects to the stranger in the casket. I smiled and embraced people I had never met who shared some of my inherited traits.
“You would have loved her, dear.” My dad’s cousin, Elizabeth said as she kissed my cheek with her leathery lips. “You look like your grandmother did at your age.”
I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. I took a look at the aged corpse with ropey gray strands of hair sticking out in every direction. Her skin aged well. So, if Elizabeth was right at least I had the promise of resilient skin to look forward to. My hair on the other hand had no hope.
As our departure time neared, Dad handed the keys to Grandma’s flat over to the real estate agent and we loaded a taxi with our suitcases.
“London Heathrow Airport, please.” Dad instructed the driver as we entered the cab. The cab driver looked to be of Indian descent and spoke little English. Instead of a verbal reply he offered Dad a nod of understanding.
We were cruising the M5 enroute to the airport. Dad was fidgety as he always was before travel. His eyes were glued to the horizon as though he were trying to take mental photographs of a land so familiar yet so foreign to him. Mom was gripping dad’s hand and drumming her fingers on her knee. It was her nervous habit. I pulled out a book from my carry-on luggage and began to lose myself to the pages of mythical creatures.
We came up to usual morning traffic outside of London and the cabdriver tuned into BBC radio. The morning report was being read by a man with a thick accent. He spoke quickly enough that I only caught every other word. My ears readjusted and I began to block out the radio and continued to read. A few minutes later there was an interruption to the regular news program.
“As of 8:25 this morning England has declared war against the rebel forces in Europe. Rebels have broken through the southern borders and are moving north toward London. All flights in and out of the country have been grounded. Sergeant Cooper has mobilized all forces in the south. He asks all citizens to be patient and vigilant as the rebels are handled. Please report any unusual activity to the Foreign Affairs office or your local MP.”
Mom and dad exchanged a worried glance. The cabdriver looked back at the three of us. We each wore fear on our faces.
“Where to then?” The driver questioned.
With nose-to-tail traffic stalled on the motorway we had no way of getting out. The cab driver turned the engine off and we sat in silence.
“Clive, do not panic. Where should we go? Can you think of anywhere we would be safe?” Mom asked Dad who was sweating and trying to act brave on my behalf.
“We shouldn’t go back to Southampton. It’s on the coast and the rebels could be invading right now.” Dad spoke quickly and as though he was struggling to take in deep breaths.
“Excuse me, Driver, about how far are we from downtown London?” Mom asked the man behind the wheel.
“Fifty kilometers from airport.” The driver answered her in his broken english.
“Clive, what if we check into a hotel? Wait out this invasion?” Mom offered.
You would never guess from my parents’ interaction that my father was once a professional athlete. He’s one of the strongest men I’ve ever seen in real life. He moved to America when he was eighteen to play college soccer, or football as he calls it.
Mom has always worn the pants in their relationship. I’ve inherited her strong will and ability to bring calm to the stress my father bears. He blames his nerves on his childhood. He never talked much about growing up in Southampton. And even on our inaugural trip to his childhood home did he mention much about living here previously.
As my parents talked through a plan I tried not to make it obvious that I was listening. I kept my eyes glued out the window with my hands in my lap.
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