Martha sat watching the wind. It whispered, but she could hear it as loud as sirens. The sun eliminating the swaying long grass, dancing to the whistled wind song.
It was so quiet. That was why she played.
Before, Martha had always wanted to play the ukulele. Never had much time before, working late every other evening, but now she had what felt like endless hours to fill so she filled them with song. She sung sweet and soft, nothing that would’ve been on the radio or listened by millions, but it was all there was for now.
Goodnight sweetheart, it’s time to go
As she strummed the nylon strings of her little uke, she tried to focus on the earth around her – the park she had once played in as a child, the field that was once well kept and full of life.
Goodnight sweetheart, well it’s time to go
She sang and played the chords, looking at the swings in the wind, looking at the overgrown grass. Thinking of anything but them, all those who had left her. Who had been taken from her.
I hate to leave you but I really must say
She stared around, the KEEP OUT and DANGER signs in bold yellow, next to the daisies and buttercups screaming out to be noticed. Why had it happened? What had even happened? “Why not me?” Martha thought as she strummed. “What made me so special?” She thought angrily, stopping mid song and putting down the ukulele. “Why not me, why not us?”
A siren sounded from across the field. “Martha, inside, they’re starting in 2 minutes!” a voice called. Martha turned to see Felix shouting at her, waving his arms, beckoning her to come back. Martha waved back and picked up her ukulele. Upon seeing her get up, Felix turned around, and headed back towards the house.
Goodnight sweetheart, goodnight
She sang as she began to run back, the sirens getting louder. Oh what she’d give to be back at a desk, searching for job roles for clients. Martha chuckled harshly. Oh she never thought she’d miss that, endless mind numbing calls and unhappy clients with roles she had found for them. But she’d take them all back now, just for an old familiar face. For something normal to hang on too. But that was all gone now. They all were. Ruby’s face swam up in her mind. Martha pushed the image away, too painful to revisit.
As she reached the hatch, she pushed herself inside, and shut it behind her. Felix gave her a disapproving face. “Honestly, you act like surviving is a curse” he said. “Going off in to the field so close to the cleanse, acting like you wish you’d have kicked the can along with the rest of them”
“And miss being nagged half to death by you, no chance” Martha grumbled, fumbling a little with her ukulele and the hatch lock.
“Come on, I know it’s been hard. It’s been hard on us all, but we have to stick together, who knows who else is left?” Felix’s eyes turning a little kinder now that the hatch was shut.
“I know. I’m sorry, I just lost track of time…” She said lamely. God what she would give to be able to go outside without being reminded of how lucky she was to have escaped the fate of the rest of them. Of course she was glad to have been immune to whatever it was that got around 80% of the population in the UK. Of course she was glad to have the rest of those who had been immune in the city, the small few of them. “But why us” Martha thought. There appeared to be nothing that connected them – age, race, gender all highly political but insignificant apparently when determining who to infect. There were no doctors she knew that had made it. No one who has previously been a doctor who had come forward anyway, the few nurses she knew had become targets to stay with certain crowds. Former politicians who had been abused and shamed over the whole thing also unlikely to reveal their past career choices.
Felix stared in to Martha’s blank eyes. “Hey, it’s going to be alright. The cleanse will only last a short while, and then tomorrow we can go out and get more supplies. We’re all bored, we’re all scared. But tonights the election, and they’ve managed to get a signal on the box”
Felix was 67, lost his whole family in the plague. He was a plump man, walked with a limp, but had previously been a professional boxer so had the discipline of getting out ones aggressions in ways that didn’t involve sneaking out to the park to play a tune or two.
He put his arm on her shoulder. “Come on love” he said. “Rob’s cooked up a storm, well, better than anything the rest of us could’ve rustled up. We’re lucky he found us, or it’d be me and my cooking tonight. I tell you, the things I used to make with baked beans” Felix chuckled whilst leading Martha further in to the house.