The End
By: Nora Jean Garcia

"If I tell you not to be afraid at The End, will your knees shake? When you face the monster? Will you fight," her head tilts. She watches me.

I'm scared. Dragons -The End's tomorrow. The End'll come when I'm eleven. I haven't grown the extra inch. I'm too old to stay with The Mother. I'm too short to take The Journey.

I sink my fingers into the flesh of The Garden. Verdant earth rises around me. I'd rather keep working. Yet, I contemplate the question.

"The monster," I try to be brave. I can't. "Yes, I'll be afraid."

"I won't lie to you. Fighting death's useless," She tells The Truth.

We work in The Yard. It's a human grave site. We work Free Land to make The Garden to feed The Community.

364 days ago I was sent to here to be Of Purpose. Being ten years old is tough in The Yard. I'm too short to reach the water. I'm barely strong enough to push the empty wheel barrow. Better me than my little sister. She's Sparrow. Sparrow's just five. I've toiled. I rake human bone fragments. I carry water. It's hard but doesn't matter because we eat.

"Let's lunch here." She pours water over of my hands. She hands me a plump, purpled tomato.

The purpled tomato's special; fertilized with fish meal to give it more protein.

"Happy Birthday, kid."

My mouth sinks into the firm, succulent flesh. It tastes bitter instead of sweet.

"Don't worry, kid. Monsters only come when someone doesn't need you."

"Why's it taste funny?" I ask too late. My eyes, blurry with sleep betray me.

"Sleep. Dragons aren't worth fighting." Her strong hands pull the soft soil over my feet.

Warm soil covers my torso.

"No worries, kid." She whispers.


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