For the beginning of the story, please go here…Pt. 5 of To Dust: A Novel
Daisy squatted down in the hub of the first turn in the tunnel. Job should be along soon, she thought. Then we can go back to the library and he can read to me.
She had never thought much of stories before. As a child, all anyone wanted to tell her were pretty stories of people living in forests and castles, nothing that seemed like her life. She couldn’t relate to these people who lived every day in such beauty and took it for granted.
Daisy. Such a silly little fairy-tale of a name, she thought. Like the castles erected in stories.
The dirt slipped under her soft shoe a little bit and she adjusted her feet more firmly.
What was the way to the library again, Daisy thought. She closed her eyes, building the memory around her and concentrating. It was first a left. That’s where she was now. The left turn of the tunnel. Then Job and she had walked on until they reached another fork. Job had then turned right, then left right away down a tunnel that sunk steeply down, taking them to the lower, older lacework of tunnels. Then it was a long way going straight.
What if Job had been kept at school and they ran out of time? She would find her own way there, she thought, determined. After all, Job had had the book to himself last time. This time she wanted the pretty librarian to help her find a book. A book she could take home for herself.
She remembered the look of disappointment on Job’s face when he told her his parents had taken the book. Her parents would have been furious too.
The danger of having such flammable material, and in the house! Her mother would have added. As if having flammable materials outside the house made it acceptable. If a fire started anywhere in town, there was no way to put it out. No way to stop it from spreading. Daisy remembered that time.
She couldn’t understand her mother. Not that she didn’t try. Daisy remembered, just a short time ago, taking another stab at the bond.
“Mom, what does my name mean?”
Her mother, bent over the laundry, delicately rubbing at stains with a small washcloth and a small bottle of water preciously contained by her side. Daisy’s mother uncapped and re-capped the bottle, carefully twisting the cap around the rim to seal it tight before looking up at her daughter. Her mother peered at her with pinched red veined eyes.
She asked her name as if in question of the meaning herself.
“It’s a flower.”
Her mother leaned back down over the misty spotted clothes. For a moment Daisy thought her mother ended the conversation.
“They don’t grow anymore. Not here.”