I.O.U.

“These?” the child asked her mother, offering a handful of berries.

The mother, uncertain, knew they had no options.

“Flavour,” she answered, her smile hiding her anxiety. Too many painful stomach cramps, from both food poisoning and hunger.

The pot lapped up the fire. Amazing what a strong flame the credit card bills she’d diligently kept now released.

These finally have a use, she thought.

The world had ended.

And yet: they had to go on. She ladled out two portions.

Her eyes drooped, even after eating. It wasn’t enough.

The fire would need more fuel soon. So would she.