Julie stands at a sink filled to the brim with hot water and bubbles from the sweet lemon smelling washing up liquid. A plastic flower covered apron protects her impeccably ironed cream shirt. She hums a song quietly to herself amazed at just how content she truly is.
She turns to her Daughter Poppy, Ten years old,her face framed by long brown hair, her nose almost touching the dining room table as she peers with incredible intensity at the drawing she has half completed.
Julie’s heart swells with pride at the site. She shakes her head, and to think when the compound had decided over a decade a go that she would mary Jack, she had been horrified and rebelled against the decision. But then she was young and headstrong, her reputation as being fiery and different had already been established throughout the torturous years of school. So full of questions from such an early age, why had quickly become her favourite word, to teachers and her parents. Why do we have to live in the compound? The answer always the same. Outside was dangerous and polluted. Hazmats had to be worn even within the compounds walls, outside even they could not protect her.Why did only the men work and why were the women not allowed to know what they did? Because its always been that way. For safety, protection and for the future it was necessary. These questions and oh so many more, but those seemed somehow the most important the most demanding in her mind and the answers never felt right.
And then of course their was Jack. A tall awkward nineteen year old, solidly built his quiet placid and calm demeanour did not seem possible when encased within his huge muscled torso. But that was Jack solid and strong but so gentle and calm. The compound could not have chosen better. Her anger crashed against him like the sea against a rock. His patience seemed to have no end until finally she had nothing left to throw at him.Within months she had fallen madly and deeply in love with him and all those questions whilst still there had slowly faded into the back of her mind soon to replaced with the joy and hard work of motherhood.
She checks the large clock above the cooker. Ten minutes to five, Jack home at five, their evening meal on the table by ten past. She finishes the washing up, dries her hands and asks Poppy to clear the table. Poppy frowns at her, her drawing pen clamped firmly in her mouth. She gives a curt nod of agreement and although visibly annoyed at her concentration being broken she begins to clear away.
A brief look of worry for her Daughter flashes across Julie’s face. So different from either of her parents, to bright for her own good in many ways. A strange burning intensity seemed to burn inside her very soul. Still she was without doubt the greatest gift ever to be given to either of her parents. Lost in thought she had not noticed the door being opened and when she catches the huge figure in the door it makes her startle her hand automatically reaching toward one of the kitchen knives within their large wooden block.
It only takes a second before she realises its Jack and fear is quickly replaced by joy. He stands in the doorway and dressed in his bright white hazmat suit face hidden behind the black visor its no wonder she was scared however briefly. The air purifier has stepped up its speed to compensate for the open door and Jack steps in and quickly shuts it. He pulls off the large helmet and respirator to reveal his smiling slightly sweat covered face and his sparkling warm blue eyes. “surprised to see me” asks with a big grin on his face.
Julie just smiles at him soaking up the prescience of her husband.”Take the rest of and wash up” she smiles at him.And that’s what Jack does, even after wearing one for all of his life he struggles. It’s just easy for someone of his stature. Julie turns back to face him when she hears the sound of him hoping up and down on one foot. It’s then that she notices the watery red liquid which has run off from some part of the suit standing out with remarkable clarity against the white tiles that make up the entrance to her home.She can’t help but feel unsettled at the sight so wrong so alien in her perfect almost sterile world and worse she finds herself reverting however briefly back to her old self and question what it is her husband does.
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