I swear someone broke into my house and stole one of every shoe I owned. It was probably that National Guard asshole who gives me dirty looks every time I leave our compound. Yeah, I bet it was him. Despite the world crashing down around us, he still made time to be a dick.
“Mom! Where’d you put my cleats?” Reaching under the bed, I pulled out a crusty piece of pizza, several pairs of boxers, and a giant ball of gray fuzz. But not the other shoe I needed for football practice this afternoon. “Mom!”
“Stop yelling,” she said calmly from my doorway. “You know, if you’d clean your room every once in a while, it wouldn’t look like a nuclear bomb exploded in here and you just might be able to find something.”
Still crawling around on the floor, I tossed the mix of clean and dirty clothes to the side as I continued to search for my shoe. “Did you put them somewhere?”
“Why would I take your shoes?”
I looked up at her and shook my head. Blonde hair pulled up into a bun, arms crossed, and her body leaning gently against the door frame, my mom had no intention of helping me. In fact, she was trying not to smile.
“Because you enjoy tormenting me?” I mumbled.
“I don’t enjoy tormenting you, Zachary.”
Rolling my eyes at the use of my full name, I stood and grabbed my bag off the bed. “Well, I guess I’ll just go to practice barefoot.”
“Did you check your closet?” my mom asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Of course I did!”
She jerked her chin in that direction and I followed her gaze. There, resting up against the white slated door, sat my football cleat. “Did you just put that there?”
My mom laughed. “Yes, I have the power of telekinesis and I use it specifically to torture you.”
“You definitely have the power of sarcasm,” I groaned, picking up my shoe and shoving it into my overstuffed athletic bag. “Now, thanks to you, I’m going to be late.”
“Don’t blame me for this.”
I walked past my mom and hurried down the stairs. Her light steps followed me into the kitchen where, much to my annoyance, I didn’t see any breakfast. “So now you’re trying to starve me?”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic. Here.” She lifted a tote off the counter and shoved it into my hands.
Peeking inside, I saw some dehydrated fruit, dehydrated meat, and a green thing I couldn’t identify. I also noticed the one liter of water. “Where are my other bottles?” I asked. “I have a three hour practice after school.”
My mom dropped her head and started busying herself with cleaning up a spotless counter. “They’ve cut back on our rations.”
“There was a note attached to the door this morning. Your father talked to the guards outside and they explained that our community water tower is running low and the government is behind schedule with their monthly refills.”
“Why? The whole point of them turning our community into a refugee compound was so they could control our consumption.” And our behavior.
“Apparently they underestimated the need.” My mom walked over to the sink, which was now covered with a large piece of plywood, reminding us not to use it. “Or they let too many people in.”
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