Bexley switched on a light and raided a cellar. Maurice picked up a bottle of water and blew the dust off.
“How old would this water be? The bottle are sealed!” she exclaimed. “Would it be safe to drink?”
Without waiting for an answer, she cracked open the bottle and gulped down H2O.
“Tastes good!” she crooned. Normally they collected old bottles to fill up, often there were usually no lids. Bexley smiled. She did not have time for small talk.
“Looks like someone’s prepared,” Maurice observed, frowning at an ancient truck parked in the garage. Bexley started packing boxes with food and throwing them into the back of the ute, along with the bikes.
“Oh, thank the carbon footprint we are about to create, we aren’t cycling up the mountain!” she noted, with a grin.
Bexley shot her a death stare and handed Maurice a can opener and a can of peaches. Maurice looked at the curious object as she sipped her water.
“What’s this?” M sneered. Bexley opened a can of peaches.
“Here,” Bexley said, as she threw her a plate for the peaches. Maurice’s nose wrinkled as wrinkled fruit plopped into her plate. She sniffed at it.
“Processed fruit?” Maurice read off the can. “Out of date!”
“Yep!” Bexley smiled. “Look kid, you hungry, or not? Don’t eat.”
“The Gobblers would give their eye teeth for that can.”
Maurice suddenly felt ashamed. She remembered her father’s words about Gobblers, the people who coasted through life and left the hard yards for someone else – for her generation.
“No backbone, no spine, no character,” whispered Maurice. Her dead husband’s words stopped Bexley in her tracks.
“The Gobblers had no backbone, no spine, no character,” she echoed. It was Murray’s tag for those who profited by denying the existence of The Consumer.
“Spineless creatures who refused to evolve and thus they must die, like all other species they drove to extinction. Evolution Flunkies,” Maurice recited.
“But we, my Darling, have always been resourceful, we have evolved,” Bexley exhorted, raising her eyebrows as a signal for Maurice to agree.
“Ok, but … ” Maurice smiled as she dipped her finger into the peach syrup and tasted it. Her eyes widened with delight as the sweetness exploded on her tongue.
“But what?” Bexley asked.
“Why won’t the gobblers take everything with them, including us,” replied M, munching on her canned dinner.
Bexley laughed and poured some into her own plate.
“We’ll see, won’t we?”
Maurice scoffed peaches, downed cans of smoked oysters, pickles and corn. Her belly gurgled for her to stop eating.
“I am definitely not cycling tomorrow,” she grumbled, her tummy rumbled again.
“Well, let’s just hope the old jalopy makes it,” Bexley replied.
She threw her arm round Maurice’s shoulders and showed her to a musty-smelling bedroom with black mould on the windows and torn curtains.
“Yuk!” Maurice exclaimed. Bexley threw the pillow to Maurice.
“Here, give that a shake,” Bexley said.
“Oh gross!” Maurice squealed. Spec stars shimmered in the pool of grey dust arose. But they didn’t notice. They were too busy wrestling sheets and remaking the bed to notice me.
“Be careful not to tear them, they are so threadbare,” Bexley warned.
“These are the threads of existence and here is The Consumer, feeding on the fabric of life,” Maurice dramatised her words flapping her arms like wings and diving headlong into the bed, scrunching the sheets before swooping them high with her feet.
R..r..rrrr..ip! Her foot went through the sheet that was yellow with age.
“Oh-oh,” Maurice exclaimed, wincing to see how Bexley would react. They both laughed.
Her mother straightened up the bed, tucked her in, leaned over, pecked her forehead softly with a kiss, and smiled back at her from the door.
“Leave the door open!”
Bexley turned to see Maurice already dozing off. Spec stars twinkled in the dark. Bexley paused to study her daughter’s face. Long dark lashes and sandy hair, translucent skin – and a strong beating heart. A slow, steady pulse visibly throbbed in Maurice’s temple. The child clenched and ground her teeth as she fell into a deeper sleep.
Macho Manky Man Thing
I went to find leftovers.