the loophole

She held the surrogate’s hand, she was a pretty young woman willing to carry a child that was not her own, her husband held hers. They were in the delivery room waiting for their little bundle of joy to come into the world.

The doctor coaxed the little one into the world, and handed him to his mother.

They arrived. The witches, there were three of them, standing looking confused about why the others were there.

The mother clutched the baby closer as she recognized one as Ssamdol, the witch she had promised  first born child for the gift of song.

The father recognized one as Fasd, the witch he had promised his first born child to for love.

The surrogate laying exhausted on the bed recognized the last one as Hajilkem, the witch she promised her first born child to her to survive a car accident.

The three witches looked at each other and in unintentional unison, “I’m here for the baby.”

“Who’s baby is it?” Ssamodol asked, her claw of a finger outstretched toward the child.

“Well, its ours.” The two parents said. “But we didn’t give birth to it.”

“So its your first born child?” Hajilkem planed her lender hands on her leather clad hips.

“Sorta, but biologically its not mine.” The surrogate said sleepily.

The witches looked between themselves. Fasd sighed, “Where does that leave us?”

“We should have written down what we did last time this happened.” Ssamodol rubbed her nose. “We alternated, I don’t remember the schedule.”

“The last schedule sucked, having to fly it back and fourth every week was exhausting.” Hajilkem tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder. “What if we did months this time?”

“How do we do holidays?”  Ssamoldol shook her head.

“We usually celebrate together.”

Fasd nodded in agreement. “These mortals thinking they can get out of promises with more promises.”

“Who gets him first?”Ssamodol reached out her arms for the baby, plucking it out of it’s mothers arms.

“Who gets him last?” Fasd suggested. “You take him for now, I’ll fetch him next month.”

They disappeared in a cloud of smoke leaving the parents befuddled.

 

 

The Devil Walks Among You

The two women run on the treadmills next to me. Religion is their main topic, I struggle to focus on my own workout.

“He’s going to send all those perverts to jail.” The most talkative one nearly shouts over the noise of the machines. “He’s going to overturn roe v wade, and bring this country back to its Christian foundation. What this country was founded on, religion.”

I could practically hear my eyes roll. How ignorant could they be, I turn up my machine, my own breathing drowning them out until I can’t run.

“That’s what the evil one wants.” followed by how wonderful and compassionate her preacher is, and something about the pope, and praying for those who sin, sex before marriage kind of thing and something about fake news. “Their lives will catch up to them.”

I reign in every comment I want to spit at her. I shut off my machine and march across the gym to continue my workout. The TVs across the gym are all tuned to the same station, telling us that our president will not be keeping any of the promises that got him elected, and directly contradicts most of the women’s conversation. I wonder how there got to be so much hate in their religion, in their beliefs, and how it was my fault people were so terrible to each other. They’re doing it for God, not for me. Confounded I go home, to eat snacks and watch Netflix.

 

One hour

They sent me one hour into the future. I volunteered, hoping to witness something amazing. I stepped out of the machine, everyone was gone.

I walked over to the desk where there was a note.

“Thank you for your participation.”

I walked outside everyone was gone. I checked a clock, it was only one hour. The date on the calendar were the same.I ran back to the lab hoping to find some clue as to where everyone had gone. I tore through every drawer looking, maybe something had malfunctioned, maybe I was dead, just something.

I turned over the note. “Suck it bitch, see ya in forty years.”

I thumped my head against the wall. I guess this is what happens when you have a messy breakup with a coworker, who is probably the most brilliant person on the planet.

I went home, expecting the jubilant puppy I just got to bound up and greet me, but only silence. I found a note on the fridge on the back of a picture of her flicking me off while my loyal pooch licked her face. “Suck it again!”

“Son of a bitch!”

Wedding Toast Maid of Honor

She took the microphone from the best man. “If Leah hadn’t married Henry I’m pretty sure we would have married each other. We cried together when Henry was being a dick, I’m pretty sure we kept Ben and Jerry’s in business. Our girl’s night outings were legendary. The road for these two has not been easy, and I’m sure Leah will come over and we will eat out hearts out again. Henry will take care of her. He has to or else.”

There was a mild laugh from the crowd. Henry looked at her with a half concealed glare.

Her voice shook as she continued, “Forever is a very long time, I guess Henry will get use to me always being around by the end of it. Vice versa as well. To forever.”

The crowd cheered and clinked their glasses.

Wedding Toast

“A toast to the happy couple.” The best man raised his glass. “These two have been through so much together, sometimes I wasn’t sure if they were going to make it but her they are. Married at last. They had probably the longest engagement I have ever heard of, but I think this party will make up for it.”

He looked at the blushing bride and handsome groom, “I remember when Henry told me he wanted to marry Leah. First of all we were very drunk, I told him it was a stupid idea, and he went out and bought a ring the next day still drunk. I am really glad he returned it and got you a good sized rock, and didn’t propose while we were fifteen.”

A chuckle rippled though the crowd.

:”There is not a more perfect person that my best friend could be marrying today, I’m glad to told him yes.” He hoisted his glass and drained it. There was a cheer and the clinking of glasses as everyone toasted the happy couple.

Finding

They went out hunting and didn’t come back. They left a note, “Went hunting, be home soon. Love Mom, Dad, Buck, and Ronnie.” I waited for them, it was really too dangerous to go out alone. I waited three days for them to come back, with five of us to feed there was not much worry about me running out of food.

I waited a week, still nothing, hunting trips should only take a day or two. Nights are too dangerous to do much. Everything is dangerous now, with raiders, mutants, wild animals, and non-humans.

I headed out to look for them, obviously something bad happened and they won’t be coming back soon. I packed my riffle, ammunition, jerky, some of our home canned food. I also grabbed my canteen and filled it with water.

I planned on returning home that night to restock, today’s mission was to find which direction they went.

Their trail was not hard to find since our giant, semi domesticated, mutant dog had gone with them and knocked down every bit of vegetation in his path. Since it was still early I followed their trail. Out of the abandoned city where we live and through the former farmlands, that looked more like forests with food crops growing in them. It was a good opportunity to restock my supplies. Being a solo meant I was fast and silent, not triggering any alarms or lookouts. It also meant I was vulnerable, no backup.

I kind of wished I had our dog with me, at least he would be something. I made it to another abandoned city. This one more populated than ours. This city was where I found the second note from my family after six months of following and searching for them. They had left it with the lookout who spotted me easily.

“You Gabrielle?” He asked when I approached.

“Yeah,” More curious how he had known it was me.

“This is for you I guess.” He handed me a wrinkled and beaten up envelope still sealed with my name written on it.

“How do you know this is for me?” Really I knew, there weren’t many female survivors of the catastrophe, and the female birthrate was low. A loner was odd, a girl loaner extraordinary.

He shrugged, “They kind of look like you.”

“Did they have a dog?”

He nodded and I tore the envelope open. “Chased by raiders, didn’t want to compromise the home base. Love Mom, Dad, Buck, and Ronnie.”

“You just missed them actually.” He said and pointed in the direction they went. Still farther away from home. I followed hoping I would catch up with them. I lost their trail a few times, finding our dogs kills along the way.

The way they took took me two years to follow them back home. There was a new note on the kitchen table. “Went hunting be home soon!”

With a sigh I went back into my room in the basement to wait for them.

Fall

“I love fall.”

“The temperature is perfect in fall, you can be comfortable in shorts and layer if you get cold.”

“Pumpkin spice everything!”

“Ugg boots and leggings with baggy sweaters, best time of year.”

“Halloween, need I say more.”

“I love fall the most.”

“Fall is my favorite season.”

“Pumpkin patches, apple picking, apple cider.”

“The leaves are so beautiful.”

“You don’t have to turn on the air conditioning.”

“All the cute clothes are out in the fall, cute sweaters, long sleeve shirts, skirts with wool leggings, all of my favorite things.”

“Thanks giving, Apple pie, fall favorites!”

“Allergies, cold and flu season, not knowing how to dress for the weather, is seventy five degrees hot or cold now? When it drops down to seventy do I need to put on a sweater, I should bring one in case we’re out when it gets dark out?” I add a week before fall officially starts, “My face feels like its constantly full of snot, the whole face. My eyes won’t stop watering. I sneeze roughly fifty to seventy times a day. Yeah, fall is the best.”