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353 memorial day “This is the first time I really feel threatened,” Sharis muttered to Chad as they ate supper, Abba-less, the four of them clustered around the table in their dwelling. They’d carried out their loaded plates from the dining tent, dodging the ’urge and her minions. “I’m glad we brought dinner home.” Home, Chad thought with a flash of bitterness. Two and a half weeks here and we call it home. That’s what the government and Marriott wanted, right? He burrowed in his mashed potatoes. But he would have used the same word. They’d just gotten word that the Huffman Dam, an earthen dam across the Mad River, had also been exploded, but incompletely and not irreparably. “The Alliance can’t be happy about this one,” one of the newscasters said. “Is Abba going to die?” Leon asked. “No,” Chad and Sharis said at once. “Every thing okay?” the ’urge chirped at breakfast. Saturday , two days before Memorial Day. The bridges were out, the dams were destroyed, they were sitting in a refugee camp awaiting the attack on their own city. Abba was in a hospital south of them, in Middletown. “Fine,” Sharis said. 354 s ha r p a n d d a n g e r ou s v i r t u e s For the past weeks Sharis had been living in a perpetual present—she had lost control of her own life—and in an instant another moment would be propelled at her, as sudden and mysterious as a bird (she’d been watching them all week: the way they hurled through the air like packages, their feet uselessly dangling). I want to go home, she thought, remembering lying on the family room floor and gazing out the rectangle of window, the pillow’s indentation cradling her head. “I miss my fuzzy afghan,” Abba had said. “I miss the cushion on your toilet.” Oh, Abba. “Filled with water up to her eyeballs,” the cheerful nurse on duty had said over the perc-feed. Heart failure, she explained . Pulling through beautifully, she said. Of course, Abba wouldn’t be coming back to the Schoolhouse SafePlace. They’d find a bed for her in Cincinnati, in an Elderkind facility. Only three weeks before, when they were still in their house, Sharis had been able to plan. Cabbage and tofu for supper . Dig out the last carrots from their root cellar. Finish the Schneiders by dinner. Make Howard explain long division. But now the future had been removed from her: the distant future by uncertainty, the daily future by Marriott, Inc. She heard people around them coping. They told fantastical stories , they gossiped, they entered into casual friendships and romances that blossomed into need. She supposed she could have escaped into the worlds of her editees, but their normal lives disgusted her. Lars was especially odious, prancing around his kitchen like the King of Norway. If she’d had more energy she would have edited them angrily, but as it was she did them in the simplest way possible, trusting they’d never work up the cruelty to fire her. Any money she earned now could sit and grow, she thought, buy them a new and bigger house in some new and distant city. It struck her that her mind was in a sort of hibernation, storing up for the burst of will and intelligence it would take, someday, to push her family back to normal life. 355 memorial day Sunday Chad was sitting by himself after breakfast at one of the long tables of the dining tent, sipping on a cup of coffee , when the ’urge lifted a corner of the tent and came inside . All the camp inhabitants used the doors, but the staffers treated the tents quite casually. This morning the ’urge looked excited, as if, Chad thought bitterly, she’d just received a commendation. When she saw Chad she waved; for some reason, maybe Abba’s illness, the ’urge seemed to take a special interest in the Gribbles. As she walked past Chad’s table she hesitated, looked both ways, then sat down. “Wait till you hear this,” she said. “Nenonene’s dead.” “Dead? How can he be dead?” The ’urge flashed Chad a look both quizzical and patient, as if she thought he understood life better. “He was flying from Cleveland to the Green House and his plane went down,” she said. “They don’t know...


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MARC Record
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