I lie about my age. If people knew I was born on The Day, I'm positive I'd be banished from our community, to the wilderness to fend for myself.
Don't get me wrong, I could totally survive on my own, even within the community, I have been fending for myself for years. Well, if you don't count my older brother Ben, though I don't, I rarely see him these days and he pretends not to know me.
Things are livable now, but the early years were the hardest. Miss Maureen tries not to dwell on it, but some days when she's feeling particularly sad, she tells us about The Day. People have tried to give it other names, but it seems distasteful, so mostly we just call it The Day.
I still have some canned food, but I know at this point, everything is expired. The cans are rusty, the labels disintegrating and most worrisome of all, more and more are starting to bulge. Dad said to avoid bulging cans, that eating from them could bring pain worse than the feeling of starving, though that's hard to imagine.
So, I ration. Some days there isn't much to eat and I go to bed early with a strong headache and my arms wrapped tightly around my grumbling stomach, but there hasn't been a day yet where I haven't had anything at all to eat. I could open more of the cans, but I'm scared to find out what happens when they're all gone.
The saving grace is my vegetable garden. When people realized life as they knew it was over, they raided the grocery stores and restaurants first. During one of his foraging trips, my dad had encountered a group planning to break into a nearby hardware store. Eventually it would be looted for building materials, but their aim was the seeds, potting soil and plants.
So my garden guarantees I'll have food, as long as I have access to water. But, each summer, it gets harder and harder, the period without reliable access to water gets longer and longer. Soon the food will be gone and the water, too. Every summer, people die from the heat and lack of water.
I will not be one of them. I will have to leave. Eventually. Sooner than I'd like.
(How I'd open a dystopian novel.)