Lila sat in the old abandoned road, at the corner, among the broken asphalt and weeds while her family searched in vain for food.

Dwade who had been digging silently in the dirt, apparently in deep thought, asked no one in particular, “What did turkeys sound like?”

Dad froze.  “Guess you wouldn’t remember would you?  That was…God I don’t know back in ’93 maybe.  No, had to be ’97?  Mara, when did we lose Jase?”

Mara’s head never moved as she silently tabulated, counting backwards in her head, she didn’t even move her lips just her hands.  Lila winced knowing that Mara was reading the scars that littered her left arm.  To Lila they appeared as nothing more than a gruesome reminder of some horrible accident involving sharp mechanical parts.  Not so for Mara, the unofficial historian.   To Mara each line had a story complete with location, date, and time which only she could interpret.

“Jase was in 2898 in the December ice storm before dawn,” Mara’s lank brown hair jerked sharply indicating her unease as she brushed her fingers over the blackened tip of her left pinky.  She had barely even touched the nearly perfect circle behind her elbow before continuing, “and it was three years earlier that the Walton’s were reported to be serving the last true Thanksgiving dinner.” 

“That’s right!  I remember it being headline news, something real catchy like…Walton gobbles while economy wobbles.”  The far away look in dad’s eye caught everyone’s attention.  He almost smiled.  Then reality slipped back in, over his lowered guard, and he resumed his search for unopened can goods in the rubble that must have once been a house.

Dwade’s eyes danced between Lila and Mara still hoping for an answer.  “Dad already told you D they gobbled,” Lila finally said, “it was kind of like screaming and coughing at the same time.”  Her shrug said to leave it there and so he went back to his digging.  With the addition of his attempt to imitate a sound he’s never heard while gouging the earth with his stick.

“Well the Walton’s can kiss my succotash,” dad proclaimed as he turned to face us with the rusted dented can of Libby’s held proudly in the air.  “I know what I’m thankful for this year, even if its not a turkey…to the feast,” he said and he meant it.

Lila and Mara made the briefest of eye contact.  Thankful.  The word sounded wrong in this context.  They could both remember what thankful use to mean, back before the pandemics jumped the species barrier and nuclear destruction of the ‘hotbed areas’ was deemed necessary, and this was not that