There were big things and small things that Gemma missed.
She tried to focus on the big things most of the time: reliable food, heat, running water, electricity. Medical care, drugs. Those were the things that were going to keep her alive, keep them alive. Those were the things that required all of her energy, that first six months.
Shelter, even. Shelter wasn’t as hard as the other ones, because there were still intact buildings, but then you had to protect your mostly-intact building from everything, and everything was a much longer list of threats now than it had been six months ago, a year ago.
Food, same thing – you could find canned goods, preserved goods, but eventually, all of that was gone or gone bad. Same thing for drugs, and when they found a doctor they guarded her with their lives. Running water, electricity, those were the hardest, and those were the least important, at least in the short run.
But when she went to sleep at night, Gemma missed clean, bright colors, frivolous painting, swishy skirts. She missed glitter, and giving someone a card just because you could. She missed decorative clothing — light sundresses and bright-colored t-shirts and mismatched socks on purpose, not because your feet were freezing.
She had not been one of the magi before the world cracked. She had heard of them, the way you hear about CEO’s, Fortune-500 sorts of people, but magic was for the 1 percent, the super-important. She’d been a barista.
Now, though. 90 percent of the surviving population had something — a piece of a broken city they carried, a cracked charm, a wound that held some small fragment of magic. And in her own fragment, Gemma held light and heat, sunshine in a hand that no longer worked well otherwise, pierced by a piece of rebar.
Late at night, when she had done all she could towards their survival for the day, Gemma would sit up in her bed and aim her magic hand at the wall. She’d focus, thinking about candy hearts and ribbons, Hallmark cards and picnics, and she would project the tiniest little lights onto the wall: Glitter. It sparkled and shone and danced on the walls, and, for a few minutes, Gemma barely even missed running water and espresso machines.
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