All I Have Left - entry for A7xRica's contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Entry for A7XRica's contest.
Post Apocalyptic.
My word was 'Singing'
Enjoy :)

Submitted: April 21, 2010

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Submitted: April 21, 2010

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Contest Entry – All I have left.
The rain pelted down, seeping through my cheap faded t-shirt, causing it to stick to my skin tightly. It saturated my hair, slicking it to my forehead, the back of my neck, over my eyes. The raindrops exploded when they hit my back as I leant over the engine of my car, beating a harsh rhythm. My fingers were numb from the cold water, nails scratched from scrambling around.
She waited silently under an umbrella behind me. One arm was across her chest, resting in the crease of her elbow. There was a frown on her forehead. She wasn’t happy, not at all.
Eventually, I had to give up. I slammed the bonnet down hard in a sudden burst of hot, uncontained anger, and kick one tyre of the now useless vehicle. My foot just bounces off the rubber, not doing any of the damage I want to wreck on it. It is already beyond instant repair. Another car is driving along this sorry excuse for a road. The potholes that dent it every square meter are filled with rainwater, turned muddy from the rocks, soil and rubble that have collected at the bottom. As the car (barely sturdier and more reliable than my sorry excuse for transport) drives past, a wheel bumps down into one of the said potholes, splashing murky water up all over me.
“Goddammit!”
Before, at least, the water was just vapour from the sky. Now I am covered head to toe in splatters of mud and dirty water. I clench and unclench my fists scowling furiously at the back of the car, disappearing off, into the foggy and wet distance.
I turn to her, clear raindrops falling from the grey sky and into my face. I have to squint to keep the cold stinging water out of my eyes. She knows I can’t fix it. That’s what she told me, right from the beginning. And now I know she’s going to rub it in my face.
Her eyebrows are pushed downwards, mouth a scowl. A few weeks ago, I would tease her that it would give her frown lines. A few weeks ago, she would laugh, coming out of whatever dark mood she was in. Not anymore.
“I told you so!” Huh. “I told you from the very beginning that we would break down out here, and you wouldn’t be able to fix the car! And would you look! There’s the car! And it’s not working!!” I know that if it wasn’t raining so hard, she would come over and start hitting me, possibly with the umbrella. I stayed silent. I knew from experience she wasn’t done yet. “You are such a selfish pig! I should have gone with my family, at least their car worked! By now I could be out of this ruined country! But no, I trusted you, and look what‘s happened to me now! I’m stuck, in the middle of nowhere, with you! I hate you!” That’s a change. A few weeks ago, it was I love you...
Her eyes are empty now after her outburst. Without saying another word to me, she picks up her bags from the boot keeping the umbrella above her, then turns away and starts walking, following the car, which has now disappeared from view. She’s walking towards the exit, the way out of this hellhole that was once a largely populated and rich country, and she knows it. She could pay her way out. She was going to pay for me too, but I don’t think she’ll be willing anymore. Not now I got her stuck out here, and forced her, however unintentionally, to walk to a better life. At least she could still get one.
I watched her until she disappeared into the rain, just like the car. Then I picked up my bag, and started in the opposite direction. My jeans were sopping already, so I payed no intention to the puddles I stepped in that soaked through my shoes and over the top, near freezing my toes and making this whole mess that much worse.
A few weeks ago, this road would probably have been quite busy. It led to a port, so definitely so in holiday seasons. Now it was empty, the only people travelling the ones who could afford the fuel. All I could hear was the constant downfall of water and the splash of my feet in puddles. Softly I began to sing, my voice just loud enough to reach only my ears. It’s an old song, introduced by a friend. I barely know all the words, but it’ll do.
I walked for several hours, singing my songs, but I can’t be sure how long. I had to sell my watch to pay for the last load of fuel. Pretty useless now I don’t have a car to use it with. The miles I walked in that time take me to a crumbled city. I can recall driving through it, when I still had a car. People looked up to the sound of an engine, and in every eye there was nothing but jealousy and envy. There are people now, and a lot of them. They walk quickly, with places to get to, and no time to get there. No one meets eye to eye with anyone. We’re all to blame for the mess we’ve got into.
I use the little energy I have left to take me to the subways. Here I’ll find who and what I’m looking for. The walls are still decorated with the graffiti of a easier age, where people had the time to create works of art for the world to see. Dust, dirt and grime cover the floor, and the smell is stifling, but it’s out of the relentless rain.
I heard the busker’s music before I see them, among the noise of footsteps and angry murmurs it is the first hopeful sound I have heard in days. I walk towards the sound, and as I get closer I am surprised to see quite a large crowd around them. I guess even when people barely have money to survive they can still spare a few loose coins to strangers, just to be able to listen to the beautiful noise that is music. Ever since the electricity went down along with the rest of it, and the rich professional musicians got out of here it’s the only way to hear it. I make my way through the crowd, and look at the players. A young teenager is sitting cross-legged playing the acoustic guitar, his fingers skilfully moving up and down the strings and frets. A woman in her late thirties is pressing the keys to a battered keyboard. Another man, middle aged is strumming a bass. But they have no singer.
Perfect.
When they begin a new song I step forward. Thankfully, I know the song, and most of the words. I join them on the floor, and begin the first verse. My voice is clear over the sound of the instruments, and it reverberates off the walls, echoing into the distance.
At the end of the song they’ve attracted more attention, and the older man asks me what songs I know the lyrics to. We sing and strum and play in the subways for the rest of the evening. The rain continues to fall from the sky on the dilapidated roads and houses above, but we don’t stop, until its dark outside, and the only people going past are drunks, trying to drown out too much sorrow in booze. The three musicians I joined today give me a portion of the money and take my back to their house. It’s small of course, and not in a good state, but it’s what everyone expects now. At first guilt washes over me, but I know it’s not for nothing. I will keep singing with them now. I never met them before today, but it’s the only way for the four of us to make money to survive. I have no home here, and from selling nearly all my possessions, my voice was one of the few things I had left. My house was collapsed. My car was broken. My love had given up on me, and walked away without a backward glance to find a better life for herself. The only thing I can be proud of now is my singing.
This world can be so cruel.
 
Note: This is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic world, where there is no electricity, fuel, or any leader of any kind. The people who are still rich enough can afford to travel to another country, where the situation is not so bad. In this the main character’s girlfriend had promised to pay for him to leave with her, but she walks there without him when his car breaks down. :( Poor guy.


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