The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.
Favorite Things Journal
Wednesday, December 20th:
I suppose, in light of what’s happened and happening, I should try to look on the bright side. I kept a Favorite Things Journal before recent events caused the world to fall into chaos, so in the interest of trying to keep spirits up and sanity intact, I shall keep up the practice of only writing the good things going on in my life.
Today I was given the gift of life. An early Christmas present perhaps? We live in a smallish town about sixty miles outside Cleveland, so luckily we were spared the brunt of the explosion. We have sufficient food, toilet paper, and–Thank goodness our well water tastes awful!–cases of water. The food and water does not require refrigeration. We have plenty of batteries. It would seem we prepared for eventualities, but I’m simply a bit of a hoarder when it comes to things like that. So that came in handy.
Monday, December 25th:
Merry Christmas to us. My son and I still have enough food to last awhile. We are avoiding tap water, since some unpleasantness in the neighborhood has led me to be suspicious of its contents. However, thanks to some forward thinking, unusual for me, I have been collecting snow to melt over the fire. We don’t normally use the fireplace, so in the absence of firewood I have been burning things around the house. Some things work better than others, though I confess burning the bills was the highlight of my week.
I actually haven’t had to burn any furniture yet. It’s amazing how much crap we can rid ourselves of in a pretty good fire. I had some broken chairs, treated wood unsuitable for burning anyway, so I broke them down and used them to board up the windows and the door. I turn on the small battery powered radio once a day to keep informed. Since we live in a less populated area, the looting has not made it to our house yet.
Monday, January 1st:
I should probably write in this journal more, since it’s a new year and all. My son and I are home all day every day, so we have been reading the paperback books and magazines we have, rationing our food supplies, and brainstorming survival strategies. For fun, we imagine breaking into bookstores for new reading material, as well as requisite materials from other places: gas, matches, batteries, food.
Since we no longer have a car, we are not tempted to drive anywhere far, which is probably for the best anyway. The longer we stay home, the safer we probably are.
I’ve found a way to strain the melted snow through cloth and double boil it to rid it of contaminants. I’m sure we’ll be able to go to the doctor, just to be safe, once everything gets back to normal. In the meantime, I will keep writing. When this is all over, this might make me famous, right?
Wednesday, January 3rd:
So far the new year continues to smile on us. One of our neighbors finally noticed the smoke from our chimney (why did it take them so long?) and managed to get into our garage. Luckily, I was able to club him over the head with a shovel. I’m contemplating crossing the street to his house and raiding his cabinets for supplies. He might have some meds that will come in handy, since ours are running low. Hopefully, he will have something to help us recover from whatever is wrong. He doesn’t look good, so maybe he was sick too, but now we can raid his supplies so blessing in disguise, right? Only positive things in this journal. Plus, he was pretty thin, so disposing of the body shouldn’t be a problem.
He broke into our home. Breaking and entering. When things get back to normal, we have an airtight case. It was self defense.
Friday, January 5th:
Positive things. Positive things. The radio still works. The garage is emptying fast so less to clean come springtime. Hair falling out so less hair to clog the drains. No electricity, so don’t have to worry about a short causing a fire.
Saturday, January 6th:
My pen still works. One less mouth to feed. I’d say he’s in a better place, but there’s no such place…just nothing. I’m glad there’s nothing. I want nothing. I have plenty of aspirin left, so hopefully my exit will be painless. It shouldn’t take many anyway, since I’m so weak. I’m glad there’s no afterlife, because telling off any sadistic deity I’d meet would take too much energy anyway.
*Today’s flash was inspired by the fact that I do, in fact, keep a Favorite Things Journal. When things don’t go well, it’s sometimes a struggle to find a positive thing to write, so this story is a natural extension of that. I hope you enjoyed it.