I woke this morning, for the second time in two days, to a place I couldn’t recognize. Yesterday, it was the sterile room of a surgical floor, where they cut into my arm and assigned me a new identity. Today, it is the underground bunker where I will outlive the virus that decimates the population left to the surface.
Oh, I recognize the space well enough, don’t get me wrong. The dresser, the clothes in the closet, even the simulated scenery on the flat screen doubling as my bedroom window. I recognize it all. My father made sure I would be comfortable here, a mere ceiling and floor away from the room where he sleeps.
But this place, with all its amenities, can’t hide the fact that it was born a missile silo, with its concrete walls, catwalks, and forced-fake air ventilation. It can’t cover the fear that takes hold of each of our neighbors as they enter the decontamination booth and become a survivor on the inside.
I throw the covers back and plant my feet to the floor, the smell of bacon greeting my senses. Voices in the other room tell me what I need to hear: might as well get used to this; you’re one of them now. My own mother isn’t even be awake yet, last night’s gin still leaving rings on the bedside table, I’m sure.
But just on the other side of my door, there is a family whose mornings begin around the breakfast table. I can hear them now. The laughter, the chatter, the energy on the other side of the door conjures a curiosity that draws me to my feet, if only to see for myself, this moment that seems so unfamiliar.
I turn the knob and crack the door. No one notices me yet. Humming, Eileen moves from the stove to the cupboard, pulling down a few plates. John sits already at the head of the table, sparring with the small child on his right side, holding hands with the one on his left. The girls giggle and swing their legs, teasing the space between feet and floor.
I push the door a little further. It creaks. They turn and stare, frozen in the moment. I take a deep breath and a few steps forward. I recognize this. Yeah, this awkward silence, it feels like home.
I’m participating in the 10th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. Today’s slice speaks in the voice of my Work in Progress. I would love your feedback–not just about the content–but also about the craft. Thank you for visiting and participating in the challenge.