I wanted to make sure that I got a story up this Friday as I’ll be off on a writing workshop all next week. Guaranteed, I will not have the time (or brainpower) to do this on Friday. So, enjoy this one for the next two weeks!
Skye had to get the onions planted. Onions and garlic. It was time, past time, for them to be in the ground.
Claudine and Felicia didn’t seem to understand how important it was. If Skye didn’t work, didn’t give grow squash and potatoes and beans and onions, then there was no reason for her to be there. No reason for them to keep her safe.
So she had to plant the onions right away no matter what.
Cupboard Full of Seeds
By Meyari McFarland
Skye stood in front of the cupboard, legs shaking with exhaustion. The kitchen was silent, still, so dark that shadows enveloped her other than the little puddle of light around Skye’s make-shift oil lamp. The counter under the cupboard was bare wood, scarred by decades of use. Skye trailed her fingers across the cut marks crisscrossing its surface. The tips came way dusty except no, that wasn’t dust. It was flour from the vegetable pie that Claudine had made last night. She could see an orange mark closer to the sink where Felicia had chopped carrots. One tiny curl of carrot peel peeked out from under the cabinets by her toes, dry already.
Their little common kitchen was never clean, not really, but that was the point, wasn’t it? A place for them to share instead of private spaces that isolated them all. They had to do better, do more, than what they’d done before. The world was changing, had changed, would continue to change and there was nothing at all that Skye could do about that. Except help make their little corner of the world better.
Weeks. It had taken weeks to get everything ready. Skye looked over her shoulder at the one window. There wasn’t much to see. It was dark, nighttime, outside. She should go to bed. Sleep. Rest. Get up early tomorrow and start the planting process.
But Skye stood in the kitchen instead, staring at the cupboard full of seeds that would, hopefully, give them the chance to live free forever. Felicia had scoffed at the sheer idea at dinner, poking at her vegetable pie with her fork as if she thought it was nasty.
“You know we’re going to have to keep shopping,” Felicia had snapped without meeting Skye’s eyes. “There’s no way that we can grow enough to feed us all.”
“I think we can,” Skye had protested. “It’s not easy but if we keep building beds, keep saving the seeds, we’ll build up enough to grow all the food we need and more. Really, it just takes two or three squash to feed an army, Felicia.”
“I do not want to spend the entire winter eating nothing but squash,” Claudine had huffed. “Bad enough that we’re stuck with not much more than carrots to eat right now. Unending squash will drive me straight back to the city.”
As if it was that easy to go back. Their little island was cut off from the mainland now. The ocean had risen so much that you needed a boat to get across and it didn’t look like the winter would be cold enough that the ocean would freeze. It hadn’t frozen in years, since Skye was a little girl.
But if that was what Claudine needed to tell herself to be able to go on, then so be it. Skye just wished that they would listen to her when she said that it would work. Neither of them knew much about growing food. That was Skye’s thing. Her mother’s gift, her joy, her hobby. A hobby that might now feed all of them, not just Claudine and Felicia and Skye but the others on the island, too.
Skye shook her head and pulled the cabinet doors open. Ranks of jars stood there, each filled with seeds. Beans. Corn, squash, pumpkin, some oats that Skye really didn’t think would grow well in their rainy, stormy climate. But the rice would grow. She knew that would work, if Skye’s proposed paddy was created. Tomato seeds, tiny little flecks of white in a canning jar the size of her fist. Peppers, dry and tumbled into their bigger jar.
Those she would have to raise in the new greenhouse, probably. Maybe. It depended on how much the temperature rose this summer. But none of those were what Skye needed.
“Onion and garlic,” Skye whispered as she carefully rummaged through the jars until she found the tiny black onion seeds she’d traded for. “That’s what needs to go in first.”
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