Mac ducked behind a building. She pressed her back to the cool brick and slid down. Her arms crossed over her knees, shoulders slumped.
“Didja find ‘im?”
Her head snapped up at the sound of a soft voice. The girl approached, her footsteps silent over the dirt. Twelve, maybe thirteen. Sinewy arms hugged her front, her hands buried under the hem of her olive green shirt.
“Yea.” Mac shook her head. “But he’s changed. Wouldn’t leave.” She pushed her fingertips against the stone and rose up. “I gotta go.”
“They work tha ‘napped kids fast. Don’t wan’ ‘em runnin’ for home. Or turnin’ on tha others.”
“Dad told me he’d probably be lost by the time I found him. I shouldn’t’ve stopped.” Mac studied the girl. She toed the ground, arms still crossed but eyes down. “You should probably get back to your assignment.”
“Pro’ly. But I been gone all day ‘n’ they ain’t missed me yet.” The girl looked up, wild curls framing her face. “Would ya take me?”
“Where e’er ya goin’.”
Mac shifted the pack on her shoulders. Her eyes darted around. The alley was still vacant. “What about your family? You know they’ll stop getting support if you disappear. No more food rations, no more electricity. You’ll be wanted for treason. And they’ll be held responsible.”
“Ain’t nobody dependin’ on me. My momma died birthing me. Her sista died tryin’ ta find me. It don’t matta to no one where I am.”
“And your dad?”
The girl shrugged. “Ain’t nobody knows who he was. I been here since I’s a baby.”
Mac held her stare for a moment. She shook her head. “You don’t want anything to do with me or where I’m going.”
The girl stepped closer. “I’m goin’ with ya. I know ya don’t wanna leave me here.”
Mac crossed her arms. “Look, I’m leaving everything about this place behind. Where I’m going, there’s nobody. And on the way there, I’ve gotta hunt or forage for my own food. Sleep on the ground. And avoid the crews.”
“I’s a gamble fo’ me bof ways. Ya leave me here, I’m in trouble for bein’ missin’ all day. ‘n’ some girls get sent to service them crews when they old enough. Mostly tha ones with no family. Goin’ with ya, i’ sounds tough, maybe dangerous. But at least I’d be free. Away from here.”
I feel obligated to mention that this story will become part of a larger work. Though not in the true spirit of flash fiction, some prompts ignite the creative flame of my muse. That’s a flame I’d rather foster than damper! I plan to have the first part of the story completed and posted in January. If you’re interested in reading more, be sure to check back! It’s working title is “Aftermath.”
“Gamble” was the last prompt for 2015 from the Literary Lion, my favorite word-smithing cat. Hosted by the creatively fabulous Laura Gabrielle Feasey, a word prompt is posted on Wednesdays for writers to create a flash fiction story of 400 words or less. Join in and see what the cat brings us next!