4 of 5 stars.
Included in After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran, this short story is poetically beautiful and bleak. The old normal has passed in a haze of days and any new normal has yet to begin for the characters: Diane, Owen, and Fox. How recently the Apocalypse happened is left to the imagination. So, too, is the passage of time in this concise story.
We start with Diane, separated from her wheelchair, in a ditch, her leg confined to a cast. Blind Owen is just then tapping his way up the same road. In a world of damaged goods, these two pair up to make a journey together toward the unknown of London. The story does not say how Diane ended up in a wheelchair, nor does it linger on who or what caused the bruises along Owen’s back and his blindness. Soon enough the pair meet Fox, who has his own maltreatment to not talk about and his own cunning agenda.
This is a story about finding tenderness and moving forward, not standing still nor dwelling on the past. This is how we leave their story, on the road. We, too, travel a bit of their path, wend a ways down the road with them, and then part ways with these survivors. And we are better for having met them.
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