But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. Mark 13:24 - 13:27
The helicopter with the boy and half her family disapear into a dark cloud. She strains her eyes trying to track the third and final flight of the day, believing it might reappear so she can take one last look at her ride. Dry eyes sting from the smoke, she doesn’t blink again until the hand of her father touches her shoulder. His touch brings her back from the place in the cloud where she believes she needs to see her mother. He uses his other hand to cover her mouth and nose with her mother’s extra shirt. He leans close to her ear.
“Okay, Mija. What you did, you have no idea how mad I am right now. You should be on your way. Where it’s safe. You were supposed to take care of your mother and baby sister. Next time, don’t be their hero. Be my hero, be your sister’s. This is now, and now, we have to survive. Giving up your place to save someone, that will only hurt us. But, you know, I’m proud of you. Mi Tesoro.”
Jorge and Ruby walk back inside of the lodge tucked into the slope of a granite mountain. He pulls the shirt from her face. “Dad, that ride was never for me. You heard the soldier, tomorrow. I get to take my ride in a Black Hawk, tomorrow. We’ll go together.”
Jorge forces a smile. “You were supposed to leave with the women and children. How are you still here? Mija, you’re here for your father, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Hey Dad, it’s smokey in here.” She sucks in short gasps of oxygen, choking on the invisible particles that burn as she inhales.
He looks around the space. “The ash and smoke should die out soon.”
Turnstiles are set up at the Port of Seattle extraction site, giving it the feel of a theme park. There are over a million people gathered within the city boundaries, working diligently to secure a spot for departure. Rumors burn through the masses, and the question of which boats which people will be transported on seem to be everyone’s preoccupation. Everyone wants a cruise ship transport, but many will have to settle for Navy ships, Coast Guard ships, cargo ships, and anything else that can move the people away from the devastation of the Yellowstone eruption. Soldiers work tirelessly, organizing and directing. Law enforcement dropped out of the process days ago. They’ve fallen back into the anarchy that seems to ravage the landscape the same way the dark clouds do.
Seattle is relatively clear of smoke thanks to the coastal storms and dense rain clouds which are fed by the hydro-nucleic particles that the ash creates. Hundreds of thousands are being evacuated into the sky, their destinations kept from them in fear that the fates in store may not be tolerated. Other groups have formed, and behind the extraction lurks a small group of revolutionaries calling themselves, The Resistance. They’re busy securing supplies and devising a system to remain on the continent despite the strict warnings issued by the United Nations and Head of State. The smoke and gray clouds in the sky are no longer a shock, but are simply part of the world now. Everyone in Seattle gasps, choking on the residue in their lungs between words in conversations. Conversations that always begin with , when are you scheduled to leave? Did you enroll for benefits? Trying to avoid the worst topic of conversation, “Will you go with everyone in your family?”
Jasmine McCorvin picks up the toy car her son’s just dropped in the crowd. She grabs it before her one-year-old tries. They’re in the middle of a group close to a thousand strong. She’s trying for a plane instead of a boat, figuring a flight will be safer than taking her curious son out to sea. Her mother and father are with her. Jasmine’s husband is with the army. He’s in Communications and is stationed at a California Port. He’s requested she take a plane. Families of the military were initially supposed to receive priority and qualify for extra assistance, but in the heat of the escalation, this promise was forgotten. Jasmine has no special treatment, nor does she expect to find any. At best, she hopes to send word to her husband of their arrival point. She watches the citizens shuffle forward. There has been constant hostility towards the soldiers, especially the troops from abroad who are unfamiliar and speak in strange accents. Her son wiggles. He climbs up into her arms, then back down to the ground, then begins again. Jasmine allows him to move and climb in anticipation that they may be on a flight to somewhere within the hour. She has her military identification in her pocket as well as her passport. Little documentation has been recorded or classified during the extraction. For many this is a tragedy and for others a gift. Convicts and the pariahs of society stand upon a level playing field. They can be whoever they wish to be now. All past prejudices are irrelevant. Jasmine feels irrelevant too.
The line shifts closer to the plane. Jasmine makes eye contact with a British soldier. He sees her and in a coy movement she lifts her son into view and exaggerates the struggle to carry him in the swelling crowd. It works. He begins to move himself in her direction. She’s still about a hundred people back. The crowd’s formed a line, but the line is close to ten people wide which makes everything ineffective and confusing. She watches as five other British soldiers start to walk back through the crowd too. The soldier she had hoped to earn pity from passes her with less than a nod. She watches with many others as the soldiers walk back, listening to something intently in their ear pieces. She watches him speak into the mouth piece. She tries to read his lips. She can’t understand what he said. She tries to think of her husband, what she would be able to distinguish from his military experience. Nothing makes sense.A woman in her early forties bumps into Jasmine.
“Sorry about that.”
The bump jostles her out of her fixation with the guards. She lifts up her son, who’s been sliding slowly down her hip.
“Must be hard to keep him happy in conditions like this,” the woman comments.
“What? Oh. Yes.” Truthfully, her son has been her golden ticket. Everyone has mercy on them, and allows them to cut in line, and have extra food and blankets.
An explosion cuts the conversation short. It’s close and loud. Jasmine jumps. The woman puts out her hand out to steady her. Her parents close in around her, trying to use their own bodies to shield Jasmine and her son.
Jasmine knows to be quiet. Many mutually stay quiet. The line starts to move forward, twice as fast as it had been. The family moves with it, unsure of where.
The woman joins with Jasmine’s parents. She encloses around Jasmine and her son, deterring the agitated population. There’s more pushing now. Aggression, previously subdued, now boils up to the surface. The woman shouts over the noise. She speaks mostly to Jasmine. “It’s the Resistance. They blew up a cargo plane.”
“What?” Jasmine’s mother screams, grabbing Jasmine and her husband at the same time.
“There’ve been rumors floating around all day about it. The soldiers knew. They couldn’t stop them. This is anarchy. Jasmine, is that your name?”
“How did you know that?”
“I overheard. Let’s focus on getting you on this plane. Things are about to turn very bad around here. You’re close. We can get you on. You and your beautiful son.”
The promise of getting her on the plane extinguishes any reservations Jasmine may have had about the woman. She is obviously a gift. An answer to her need.
The soldiers who had moved back are creating a barricade with ropes and blocks. They’re turning the crowd back. Jasmine and her family are within the boundary. They’re permitted to go forward to board the plane.
“Why would they do that?”
“What?” The woman smiles sweetly at Jasmine. “Blow up the plane?”
“They believe people should stay.”
“But that’s crazy. It’s not safe here. They can’t live in the smoke. There isn’t any way to live. The food and water has been poisoned. This is a wasteland. Why? How can they want to stay?”
The stranger stares blankly at Jasmine, not revealing an opinion.
“Not to worry. Look. You’re going to get on that plane.” She points at the stairs that lead up to a big jumbo jet.
Jasmine had to admit, she scored one of the luxury jets. This means a chance at being relocated to Australia. Australia is her first choice for relocation. The prospect of getting to evacuate to where she wants is enough to convince her that she’s somehow touched. Touched by God. The way people have helped her, and things come easy, that she was protected from the explosion. That she gets to go now. All without the help of her husband.
“This way Jasmine,” her father instructs. He turns to the stranger. “Thank you so much.” He lingers as he watches her. She has no family or friends with her. He determines to help her when he can.
Pushing, the group moves up the stairs. Jasmine’s son squirms in distress. The sensory chaos is too much for such a small child. He clings tirelessly to his mother. She presses his face into her shoulder as they climb. He snuggles his face into her smell.
They enter through the doors.
“Here.” The stranger points to four open seats only steps away from where they climbed aboard. Looking around at the masses of people, Jasmine’s thankful for the woman and follows as they rush to sit down.
Everyone sits silently, witnessing the chaos on the plane. More and more people load on, and seats begin to fill. The soldiers stay in the front. They leave the people to struggle and make sense of things on their own. The last dozen people squeeze on. People are sitting on the floor in the aisles now. Two people try to pile into one seat across from Jasmine in a scene of primitive regression. Jasmine backs into her seat and reminds herself to breathe and focus on her son. His eyes finally close and he finds a comfortable zone, resting against his mother.
The woman sits next to the window, with Jasmine next to her. Jasmine’s parents sit on the far side, next to the aisle. They have more space because they’re by the emergency exit. This is ideal with a one-year-old in tow.
“Thank you so much for your help,” Jasmine whispers to the stranger.
“Well, you know my dear. I feel as though it’s a calling. There’s no need to thank me.”
“I know what you mean,” Jasmine confides.
“Yes. I think we’re supposed to be on this plane, you know what I mean? It feels right. Like I’m supposed to be here. Even with you. It’s all too easy, the way it all fell into place. A miracle. You know?”
The stranger smiles and nods. “I’m glad you shared this with me Jasmine.”
Jasmine shifts with unease in her seat. She doesn’t like it when the stranger says her name.
The woman leans in. “So, I’ll tell you: angels speak to me.”
Jasmine swallows deeply, realizing that she’s picked a seat next to a crazy person. There’s a moment of silence.
“Mmmmm, hmmmm,” the woman answers.
“All the time actually. They don’t stop speaking to me.” She leans in more, and puts a stern hand on Jasmine’s arm. She looks into Jasmine’s eyes with fierce intensity. “Like, I have no choice.”
Jasmine freezes, waiting for the woman to stop touching her. The color seems to drain from the scene – the plane, her son, the woman, the explosion. She hugs her son. She starts to notice the details that didn’t stand out before, but are now screaming “crazy”. The woman is wearing only shades of white and cream. She has on a militant cut dress, with a stiff cardigan on top. Her hair is fixed into a modest bun. She has heavy mascara around her eyes and her cheeks are red like she’s been in the sun for a very long time. What Jasmine doesn’t see is what she’s looking for: any sign of God. The woman isn’t wearing a cross or anything that suggests religion. For some reason, this is reassuring.
The jets on the plane start to fire. Bells ring in the cabin. Soldiers find places with seatbelts. Others make do with prayers. To Jasmine’s relief she and the woman turn forward and cease to talk. The second engine fires on. The plane starts to hum with vibration. The captain does not address or greet his passengers.
A blaze of pain and force plunge deep into Jasmine’s thigh. Processing what’s just happened, she gulps, lifting her son off her lap. There, stuck into her thigh is the glistening threat of a sharp blade portruding from the top of her leg. Hot blood pushes its way out and pools under her in the airplane seat. She sucks in air in an attempt to scream, but before she can release her cry the stranger stands up and pulls her son from her arms.
The woman talks quickly and loudly. “I am an R.N. Your son is in good hands. He’s special. They’re telling me to take him. To take him and run. He’ll be so safe. He’s important. You can’t understand!”
The woman takes a free hand and pushes the knife in deeper. Jasmine screams. She’s barely heard over the roar of the engines. The woman leans in and whispers into her ear, “leave it in or bleed out. You’ll make it if you use pressure.”
Her parents reach to grab for their grandson while desperately wrestling with their seatbelts. The woman pushes down the arms of the emergency hatch and flings open the door. Holding the toddler with one hand, she drops them off the edge of the plane. Jasmine and her mother scream in terror. She holds fast with the other hand, then lets go. They fall to the ground with a violent basket-drop. Jasmine cries out. Dragging her bleeding leg behind her, she prepares to jump out the plane. The jet begins to lurch forward and knocks her back. Once she hits the floor, people swarm her, applying pressure and discussing whether to remove the knife or keep it in there. Two men, eager to fly before a second explosion grounds them, work together to pull the emergency door shut.
The nurse definitely hurt something in the fall, but she’s able to stand up and move away from the plane in time to get to safety. She runs directly against the seething crowd. She and the child disappear into the masses.
Three and a half years later.
Ruby and her father sit on top of a grouping of five gallon buckets. They’re on a platform made from refrigerator doors tied together by bungees. This is one of her favorite things about Mrs. Tucker’s house, her front porch. Her house is a boat. A boat in the middle of the desert. Of course, everything is desert now. Desert or mountain. Or both.
She’s telling them the same old story. Everyone’s favorite story. The story they hear over and over again. But it’s okay, and somehow important to tell it. Like a sermon. A new religion for a new world. And depending on who tells it, you get the story a little different. Ruby likes Mrs. Tucker’s version.
“The prophets in The Bible: they had it right. Only they got it wrong. It wasn’t a rapture, but a rupture. As in an eruption. An eruption of a beast lying silently below us for thousands of years. They called her Yellowstone. The super volcano isn’t just a volcano. The word volcano can’t truly describe the black destruction and wrath that took away our lives and the land. Consuming half the continent with lava and poisoning the rest with gas and ash. She took the world as her prisoner. And now the climate is her slave. Everything is cold, and getting colder. It will get colder yet, until it all freezes under her spell. In time my dears, we will meet the end under the hand of Yellowstone. No one listened to the prophets. Our mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers. The extraction took them. But God chose us. He saw to it that we were left here. To do his work and see his rights.
“So let me tell you daughter. Do his work, and when you need to fight, fight for your life.”
Ruby descretely gives her father a sly smile, just out of Mrs. Tucker’s peripheral vision. They are two of the same.
Jorge stands up from the bucket, looking at the mountains and the perfectly clear sky. He lets his eyes follow a fall-line down the mountainside to a valley basin that spills over with tiny crystalized shards of volcanic glass. It shimmers and reflects the blue of the sky above. He turns with a sigh.
“It’s time to let go of that Mrs. Tucker. In all my flights, people are fixated on the meaning within The Bible. So what.” He looks straight at her. “We to have think of now. In three more years the UN will have its surveyors, scientists, and soldiers back to decide how they want to develop our land. We can’t let them and you know it. They’ll change what we’ve created. We’ve designed all of this from love and courage. We survived against all odds. It’s time we re-connect as a nation. It’s time we get our families back.”
“It’s not to be.” The old woman shakes her head in annoyance.
“Show me where in The Bible it says we have to continue living a rural existence, stripped of our identity and torn from our loved ones.” The old woman stands up and walks over to Jorge. She puts her hand on top of his. This makes him nervous.
“My dear. We are here for a reason. You can’t deny this. Give yourself to the way. Trust it. For your daughter.” Jorge pulls himself from her and turns to Ruby. “Speaking of. Ruby, it’s time we reload and head back to the station.”
Ruby rises from her seat on a faded orange bucket. She raises her arms in an exagerated stretch. Before dropping her arms to her side, she pushes her short black hair off her forehead. She spins around and goes to take her hug from Mrs. Tucker.
“Take care of your dad there, Ruby.” She leans a little closer, memorizing the hug, “Come and see me next week.”
“When are you going to come see me?” Ruby releases her embrace and steps back from the old woman. They lock eyes, one so old and one so new, but between them they share the same light. Inspiration in everything they see.
“Leave my hill? You know that’s not what I do, Honey!” She squints into the sun and sits back down on a bucket. “There’s too much to do.”
“Then pick me some nopales?”
Mrs. Tucker reaches down into a basket beside her, she lifts something soft, holds it up, then throws it at Ruby. Ruby jumps to grab the object, delighted to interupt it’s trajectory. She opens her hand to find a piece of dried nopales.
“Thank you Mrs. Tucker”.
“Ruby”. Ruby turns just in time to block a second nopales flying right towards her head. One hand knocks it back before the other grabs hold. “That’s my girl. For your dad.”
“Goodbye!” Jorge waves with his back turned to the woman and her little boat-house. Ruby walks beside him. Their plane waits in the distance.
“She’s great, isn’t she?”
“How did the houseboat get there?”
“She said her husband brought it out here. She didn’t say much more. I don’t think it’s easy for her to talk about him.” They both fall silent for the rest of the walk to the plane.
During the flight, Ruby thinks about all the progress they have made together. After the two dark years on the top of the Sierra Crest, sealed inside a ski lodge, the same lodge that hosted the Black Hawk that took her mother and sister, they survived. She thinks of the others, she gazes down to the earth, remembering the way it felt to be the only girl and only child who remained on top of the mountain. She remembers how special she felt. She thinks about the day the volcano stopped. Two weeks after the end of the eruption the air seemed safe again. This is when life begins again. Ruby smiles, recalling the journey back to the Carson Valley. As hard as she tried to remember her home before the eruption, everything was in a state of devistation beyond recongition. Layers of ash burried her old school. Torrential flash floods full of volcanic fallout, mounds of dried silt had drained down and filled the edges of their picturesque valley. This change left a putrid landscape of quiksand littered with geothermal vents that hiss and bubble up to the surface. Together, the survivors discovered that the heat of Yellowstone burned above, but it also heated part of the crust below. This caused the Long Valley Caldera to awaken. Ruby looks out to an active place in the her valley. Each day the land shakes with tectonic energy. Sometimes small mountain springs grow into large pools overnight. Jewel-toned and clear as they may seem, within lie strange glowing bacteria and temperatures intolerable to man. Ruby looks over at her father and gives him a grateful smile. Out of all the survivors, her father was the only one who had prepared. Ruby recalls the expedition of ten who trekked down through the Sierras. Jorge was quiet about his plan. Reaching the remnants of the main street in the first town, Jorge took Ruby to tend to business on their own. No one minded. Each of the them had a separate agenda.
“Hey Dad, what happened to Jim and Cisco?”
Jorge pulls back on the yoke. He takes a moment to think before answering. “They left for the coast to join with The Resistance”.
Ruby knows her father doesn’t like to talk about the politics happening along the coastline. She changes the direction of the conversation, and Jorge makes a turn to line-up for their slow descent. “ Remember when we got to the Mino Mart?”
Some survivors built homesteads from the fractured remains of wharehouses. The small firearm stores hadn’t withstood the tyranny of nature, but the superstores seemed to have been contructed differently. “Remember the animals had taken over? Bugs were everywhere. Oh Dad, remember the rats! The smell!” Ruby closes her eyes and can revisit the first store they entered. Birds’ cries echoed around the dark dry space. Jorge and Ruby negotiated a way back to the hunting and camping supplies. There, they found guns and ammunition. They took all the lanterns and flashlights they could carry. The memory of the superstore is one of the most vivid Ruby has. The smell of death, the look of abandonment, and the concrete way the past and present seemed to collide. Her life before the eruption and her life after. The sickness and dysfunction, the inside of a familiar corpse. The part that misses her mom and her sister. The helicopters never came back. There were others. A group who resisted the extraction, attacking the peacekeepers. Extractions were reduced, then rushed, overlooking many people, then they just stopped altogether. Whatever it was that caused the helicopters to not return, Ruby knows that it was the same thing that causes the illness in her spirit. It’s the strange sway of how things unfold. How she is here, and her mom is someplace else. It happened when she was so young, and now at the age of fifteen, it just hurts. Tremendously.
She looks at her Dad. He’s shutting her out, completely engrossed in landing the plane. He’s rebuilt a world for them, and unlike the others, they are different. They are flyers.
Another day brings another flight. The morning is dedicated to chores, inventory of deliveries, and time for the donkey. Soon, it’s time to fly.
Inside the cab, Jorge flips on the controls and locks the cockpit. Ruby reaches over and flips on the music. There’s a special audio player that contains the previous pilot’s playlist. It’s not their music, but sometimes that can be a relief. To forget about themselves. Rod Steward wails in contrast to the hum of the engine. Slowly the plane moves forward. Jorge engages and they project down the river bed. The mud river has hardened to perfect clay. Perfect for take offs and landings. Lifting off low at the bottom of a canyon isn’t easy, but it’s what they do, and the purpose keeps them from losing their minds. It always has. During flights, they don’t speak. Jorge focuses on flying while Ruby tireless stares at the landscape below.
Most flights feel like a bad dream because of what she can see. She struggles to accept what her eyes reveal. Mountains are stretched wider than her imagination can keep up with. Valleys which were once flat and open rangeland are marked with boiling pools of unknown depths. All the roads and bridges have been split by tectonic movement or washed away by volcanic flash floods. These aren’t like the floods she used to know. They’re massive rivers of dirt and power, plowing everything beneath them – trees, houses, fences. That’s the strangest development: the absence of trees. Ruby can’t think of this. Everything can be taken, removed, and destroyed. But to take the trees crossed some sort of natural boundary.
“Okay champ, we’re going to swing by Mr. and Mrs. Callers’ place to drop off the aspirin for his heart and the happy pills.” He winks at Ruby, before turning the plane a sharp right, lowering a little to follow the ground through Fireballs. Pockets of gas release through the cracked Nevada earth. The gas permeates up through the soil and dissipates in the air. But, when the plane sails through, the heat of the engine can often ignite small drifts of the gas. As they ignite, a chain reaction is sparked. The first two puffs of gas catch fire. Just before extinguishing, four more, then, a baker’s dozen. Ruby squeals in delight. Jorge laughs.
“Crazy,” he sighs under his breath. They fly on until they find a dead field of grass at least fifteen acres long. He touches down and brakes to a smooth stop. The door opens and Ruby climbs out. She likes this area. It used to be different. A mountain with huge steep sides. Now it’s been filled up. This is where they land. A thin layer of weak grass grows and dies, then tries to grow again. It’s not impressive but hopeful, like the rest of The Island which is home to thirteen people. The Costco has another seven.
Jorge unlatches the door for Ruby. He worries about his daughter. He’s worrying about her now. He thinks of all the things she’ll miss: crushes, pop culture, trips to the mall for french fries. She’ll never get to take driver’s ed or get in an argument with her mom over phone privileges. In this respect, Jorge has a solution. “By next year, you’ll know everything I know about flying and aircraft mechanics. It’s your size that gets in the way, Mija. You have knowledge and mechanical theory down – it’s the act of replacing the parts that poses difficulty. You need height and strength.”
He watches her log the post flight data in her binder. There is so much to teach her. Jorge’s anxiety over Ruby began the moment his wife and baby were lifted into the air by the last helicopter he’d seen. Ruby recognizes the expression on his face. The expression that started with her books. During the two years they were trapped on the top of the mountain at the ski resort, Jorge had found a total of thirty-seven books, eight magazines, and one crossword puzzle. He desperately wished to find more for her. More information, a true escape from the hell around them. By the sixth month he had pulled every sign in the Red Cliffs Lodge off of the wall. He built a room out of ski lockers for them. In their room he hung the signs everywhere. The words and pictures brought life to the emptiness of loss and stale space. Signs about first aid and exits and avalanche safety and serving food at the right temperatures. Signs about washing hands after going to the bathroom.
“Come on Ruby. Grab the Callar’s delivery for me.”
Ruby reaches into the cockpit and pulls out a maroon backpack. She slings it over her shoulder. She loves to carry the medicine. She pushes her hair off of her forehead and tucks her fingers under the strap of the bag. Jorge shuts the door and they begin the five minute walk to the town.
The Callar’s house is a swollen little lump with a shack protruding from a slanted hill. The hill looks like it wants to tip sideways. The same short sprouts of grass root into the hillside. Ruby’s pace quickens when the house comes into view, she imagines the basket of yarn sitting on the floor next to Mrs. Callar’s chair.
Mr. Caller opens the door. Gravity pushes it back. He takes his door-rock and kicks it into place.
“Well Ruby. You are a sight of light and everything divine! My best girl! I’ve been waiting for you all day. We have treats.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Callar, my favorite day of the week. Really. I wait all week for my lesson and your good food.”
Ruby and her father rarely cook for themselves or even find groceries. The people who they bring medicine to usually repay them with food, a tool, or something warm to wear.
“Never mind that. I need to hear Jorge promise me that he’s staying over tonight. One hour isn’t enough. I want to catch Ruby up on her knitting lesson.” Mrs. Callar waves with affection from within the home.
Jorge’s been bartering deliveries in exchange for lessons for Ruby.
“Mrs. Caller we’d like nothing more than to stay the night. Do you have that special guest room all fixed up for me?” Jorge asks.
“I keep it ready for you all the time Jorge. It’s yours whenever you need. A matter of fact, we refer to it as Ruby’s room.”
“What’s for dinner?” Ruby asks. She reaches up and grabs the beam off the porch. She dangles for close to a minute before dropping with a thud onto the aluminum porch.
“We have duck baked in prairie grass, with a pine needle compote. I have hot sap water and pine nuts for desert,” Mrs. Caller announces with pride. Did I tell you? Bowers started to mill her own flour from the prairie grasses and sage sprouts! We have time for a quick lesson before the food is ready.”
Ruby and Jorge follow their hosts through the door frame that leads into the first room of their hillside house. A hand-knitted rug spans the entire floor and is comprised of fabrics Mrs. Callar collects herself. She deconstructs flannel shirts and cotton, and uses a loom to make yarn for new projects.
“Tell me Ruby, have you seen any more of the amber we’ve talked about?”
Ruby shakes her head no. She follows Mrs. Callar into the dining room. There’s an original wagon wheel chandelier complete with beeswax candles burning in the holders. It’s warm but dark. A wood burning stove with pots gurgling and glowing illuminate some of the deeper shadows. Mrs. Callar gestures to the two chairs directly across from the stove. Ruby’s project is sitting ready, as if she’d set it down only moments ago.
“So tell me Mr. Callar,” asks Jorge,“what have you been working on this week?”
“Only my best invention yet, Jorge. But I’m not ready to reveal it, not today. You and the rest of the Island will have to wait until I’m done. I’ll have a party or something.”
“So just pique my curiosity and drop it then?”
In the final hour of the day the four friends sit on the porch. Ruby works intently on the knitting project.
“Mr. Callar, have you always been a survivalist?” Ruby in her young age, affords questions others shouldn’t ask.