Chapter 2, What used to beMature

I changed into my slippers and sat down on my chair, picked up the newspaper and began to read. Fear mongering, total and utter fear mongering. "Last oil reserves dry... homes blackened... the pound loses value... mile long queues at banks... production of all goods halts... unemployed reaches all time high." It's all introspect and hysteria. When will we learn that newspapers aren't oracles of truth. I pull the front cover off and roll it into a tight tube, twisting it into a tight ring. I finish the newspaper like this and put my newspaper rings into the spare coal scuttle. Not that they'll be any coal to burn any time soon.

I remember when I was younger and my mam would light our fire, she taught me how to make these makeshift fire-lighters. I can still feel the hot fuzziness of socks dried on the fireguard before school. Much simpler times when we didn't worry that this was the last time we'd have a roaring fire. I looked at my current fireplace.

A lonesome log surrounded by manufactured charcoal. When Valerie and the kids come home I'll light it. Until then I'll just sit here and read a book. A thought drifted through my head; what will happen when we even burn books? The thought chilled me to the bone, there were some books that you couldn't burn, some that if I were asked to, I would hide. I thought about it systematically.

First they'd burn non-educational books, I would think that even it desperate times we'd be able to think this through logically. I'd personally burn every celebrity biography. Not that even burning those books would be a good idea, the written word was just too precious in my own mind to be destroyed. I put the thought from my head.

The lights in the room dimmed flicked on dimly, it must be nearing 5 o'clock. Time soon for my family to arrive back home. When the kids had gone to bed I could talk to Val openly about the meeting.

I must give this information, as it's of some importance to our situation. Our house is on a special meter. We could use a certain amount of electricity per day so we set our electrics carefully. Lights were set to local darkness and controlled but an outdoor sensor. The stove was on a timer, Val and I timed our cooking down to the second, not to waste a bit. Even the television broadcast systems were to shut down every night at10 PM, only the emergency broadcast was to run. After our quota was used up, the house would be in darkness. We were taxed heavily on electric expenditure but Val and I could afford it unlike many others.

The bell in the hallway rang. They were home! I got out of my chair and hobbled to the door.

"Hey honey," I kissed Valerie lightly on the cheek. "How was your day?"

"Same as usual - what about you?"

"I'll tell you later when the kids are in bed."

"Ok - " Jessie and Ben pushed past her and came in, dumping their schoolbags on the landing. "Change out your uniforms and get your homework done, Mrs. Stevens said you had a lot of maths homework to catch up on Ben." Val called up the stairs to their retreating figures. She turned to me again. "Jess has to make some sort of castle for her medieval project at school. I'm useless with that sort of stuff - can you help her?" Val leant onto me and gave me a hug, feigning sleep with loud snores.

"Got it. What-cha planning for dinner."

"Don't know yet." She got off me and walked to the kitchen and I returned to my chair.

The End

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