Shattered, a ficlet of early pre-Arlend

Last night I asked for a few prompts to get me started. This one is many generations before the story I’m writing, just a few decades after the world shattered.

1 is for broken pottery….

The mug had shattered when it hit the floor.

Hannah swore quietly. They only had the two mugs left, and here she was breaking one. Everything in the old stores had been picked over by now, anything that had survived the earth-slits, the tremors, and the battle afterwards. Anything that was still intact had been taken, hoarded by the military, who needed it to win the war.

Hannah didn’t care about winning a war. She wasn’t fighting anything, anything except the shakes that had been with her since the day the world split, like she was still splitting apart, all these years later, and the hunger that was a little gnawing hole in her stomach, and the – no, she couldn’t say she was fighting the grief, not really. She’d stopped fighting it and let it move into her heart long ago. But she wasn’t fighting a war. She wasn’t part of the battle.

(“You are either part of the war effort or you are fighting for the enemies!” shouted the soldiers. She didn’t know why. She didn’t even really know why they were fighting at all. Hadn’t they all been one nation, before the split?)

She bent down to sweep up the pieces. Not enough left to glue back together. Not enough left to even add to Marcie’s broken-world mosaic, the thing she’d been building since the tremors stopped. Not enough left to do anything but cry over.

A cat butted against her leg. Hanna sighed, reached out to pet Buster… and cursed. Buster was gone, run off in the tremors. On good days, she told herself he’d lived out his life on some calmer shard of their former world, hopped a fissure and found some other little girl.

“I miss you, Buster,” she told the air, and a cat butted against her again. There weren’t stray cats around. There wasn’t anything around.

She turned slowly. There, see-through and twice the size of life but clear nonetheless, there was Buster, rubbing against her leg. And pawing at the pieces.

“You broke it, kitty,” she giggled. Hysteria was seeping in, but why fight it? Why fight anything? “We broke it.” She’d been five when the world had shattered. She and Buster had broken more than a few things, back when you could drive down to the store and fix it.

The ghost-cat pawed at the pieces. She moved to stop him, the way she had so many times as a child, but a ghost couldn’t get cut.

“Yeah, it’s a mess. My favorite mug, too. But crying don’t fix the pottery,” she muttered.

The cat pawed a few more pieces together. And, where he pawed, they stayed together, slowly mending themselves.

Hannah gasped softly and picked up a piece, fitting the next piece in with it. Buster-ghost touched it, and it stayed.

She was going mad, she knew it. She put another piece up against the mug, and Buster nosed it into place.

“I’ll take it, kitty,” she muttered. Maybe she was going mad, but if she went mad with Buster, well, maybe she could take it.

Next: Pieced

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