the short story project


Julie Unruh

The Grif’s

         Beatrice was looking over the remaining food, still stored in the abandoned temple. Much of what was left was still frozen. The fires were barely producing heat and there was nothing to feed the flames with. She watched as the fire slowed its dance to a stop.

        More people woke and were warming themselves by the dying fire. Beatrice announced that she wanted breakfast. She sat regally, trying to look like a queen in her oversized fanciful cream hemp jeans, held up with a thick belt made from wood. She wore an extra large loose cotton sweater. It had unraveled by the shoulder, showing a green hemp thermal underneath it.

        The group members scrambled up and pick one of the tangerines from the tree. Peeling it for her, their eyes look at the ground like they were handing her a crown. The other members took the beat-up mug they carry with them at all times, put curry spice in it. Filling it up with hot water, they too bent their heads, handing her the mug. They studied the floor with their eyes like the ones who handed her breakfast and said, “We give unto thee.”

         She waved her hand dismissing them, so she could eat breakfast alone.

        A memory enveloped her like a cloud. ‘She sat at the large table with both parents, the heat warming her face as she was fed a hearty breakfast. She smiled at them and they stared lovingly at her with their mouths moving, but she could not hear what they were saying. But Mal was there.’

         “Mom, what will we do today?” Bring her back to the present, asked a girl around the age of fourteen.

         Beatrice answered her kindly, “Well, today, my dear, “ she said as she suggested to the girl to sit and eat breakfast with her, “we will walk to the mine I saw in the distance and trade the placenta to get more supplies.”

         Shocked the girl asked Beatrice, “Where did you get the placenta?”

       “Yesterday, Alise, while you were laughing and joking with that boy, whose family gave us shelter from the cold, I acquired it from the pregnant lady.”

      “But, she had not given birth yet. How did you acquire it from her?”

      “She gave it to me saying, ‘We wish life and more good times, for you and your family.’”

        Alise was in shock she could not speak, she sat with her mouth agape. Beatrice stood up and said, “Well, we will need to go to the mine. Hurry and get ready!”

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