“I don’t see anything,” Jacob says as he stares through the scope on his rifle.
We’re at the top of a hill overlooking a small cluster of buildings we’ve been going through the past three weeks. I place a list onto the grass and draw a line through PARTY STORE. The list now looks like this:
- Gas Station – nothing
- Party Store – one candy bar
- Auto Part Store/Tire Shop
- Auto Part Store #2 – nothing
- Chromatic Antique Shop – WWII patches I intend to sew onto my backpack (need needle and thread)
Ever since I was a young girl, lists have been my go-to for getting things done. Jacob used to make fun of them when we first dated, but as of late, I rarely hear any teasing.
“All we have left is the apartment building and the tire shop,” I say. Realistically, what kind of food can we find in a tire shop? A couple spent donuts and cold coffee maybe? “Let’s go through the apartments. I know we’ve been avoiding them because remnants might be locked inside, but I think it’s our best chance at finding food.”
Jacob sighs and continues looking through the scope. “If it isn’t baked beans I’ll be happy,” he says.
“I don’t mind the beans.”
Dad used to cook on the grill in the summer. I can almost feel the cool glass of lemonade in my hands, beads of water trickling down the sides, onto my fingers. There was always a variety of smells in the air: freshly cut grass, sizzling brats and burgers, the sweetness of muskmelon from Mom’s garden, and the sugary goodness coming from the pot of Dad’s famous baked beans. Even though they’re cold, and even though they can’t come close to Dad’s wonderful recipe, I’m thankful for the cold baked beans from Jared S’s stash. Like my backpack, they’re a reminder of home.
“You’re weird,” Jacob says. “That’s why I like you.” A strange compliment, but I’ll take it.
Jacob slings the rifle over his shoulder. I put the list in my backpack and pull the bag tight against my body. We walk down the hill.
“I’ll be more careful today,” I say, holding Jacob’s hand. “No more balancing acts. If there’s something I need at the top of a tall shelf, I’ll holler for you.”
“Sounds good,” he says.
We keep quiet the rest of the way until we reach the front door of the apartment building. The handle has been broken off. I look at Jacob and exhale before we walk inside.