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Foraging

Althea and Gabby were able to enter the building through an air duct in the ceiling.  It was surprisingly easy.  The store was modeled after an old fashioned pharmacy and had merchandise in the front and a pharmacy counter in the back.  It was one they hadn’t broken into before.  Yussef had provided information about the set-up and security.  They dropped quietly to the floor and Althea disabled the alarms and worked on the security gate so she could start searching through the medications and other medical paraphernalia that might be useful.  Gabby kept watch.

The dim security lights provided enough of a glow that Gabby could see some of the merchandise on the shelves.  She reached out and picked up a souvenir.  Looking at it closely, she was sickened to see it was a small plastic Masque with the five year anniversary date of Passover Modern printed on it.  She quickly put it back as if it burned her.  There were other shapes and objects along the same vein and she backed away and turned toward a different aisle.

High on the top shelf was a Flutterbaby doll.  She pulled it down and turned it over in her hands.  The memory hit her like a tube transport moving at 100 miles per hour.  Staggering, she slid along the shelves behind her to the floor and allowed the memory to wash over her.

She was about six years old.  She didn’t remember how she got it, but she had her very own Flutterbaby.  It had pink hair and purple wings.   Her dress was an iridescent green and when she turned it in the light, it sparkled.  Gabby was on a swing in a backyard.  Her backyard.  There was a patch of grass, a shed, and a flowerbed in the corner.  Sliding doors led to the inside of the house, and she could see her mother through the glass.  She turned, slid open the door and called Gabby in for lunch.  Gabby reluctantly left the swing, her Flutterbaby doll grasped in her small hand.  She took that doll everywhere with her.

It had been so long since she thought of her mother, remembered how pretty she was, her long chestnut hair swaying against her back.  Gabby used to like to snuggle into her shoulder and hide her face in the floral smell of her shampoo.  She would sit at the kitchen table playing while her mother made lunch, or dinner, or her favorite cookies.

Then it stopped.  Her mother got tired.  She didn’t cook anymore.  She stayed in bed, eventually not even able to get up.  Gabby’s father wouldn’t let her in the bedroom to see her mother any more.

Later, she understood that it was the plague.  Her mother had suffered for over two years, her father taking care of her as well as he could.  Eventually he too succumbed to the disease that was decimating neighborhoods throughout the city.  Gabby had stayed in the house, not knowing where to go or what to do.  No one came for her.  There was no one to come.  Eventually the food ran out and the awful smell from her parents’ room forced her out.  She wandered the streets, looking for someone to help her, but no one did.  She learned to survive by watching the other children on the street.  She foraged for food where she could.  She begged when she could find an open corner.  There was one lady who left a box for her regularly outside the back door of a restaurant.  One day she met Milton.  Smaller than even she, he handed her an apple and moved on.

“Gabby,” Althea whispered, shaking her out of her stupor.  “Let’s go."

Gabby stood up, fingering the small doll.  She slipped it into her pocket and lifted the bag Althea pushed toward her.  The alarms were off.  There was no need to sneak out the same way they had come in.

This is an entry for LJ Idol Exhibit A.  We were able to choose our own prompts again this week.  My choice was "Paraphernalia & Memorabilia."  It is another installment of Insignifigants, which I've linked on the main page of my journal.  Thank you so much for reading.  If you would like to vote for this or any of the other magnificent entries, I will edit in a link later. Voting this week is for members of the Idol community only.  If you are a member and are interested in voting for this or any of the other tremendous entries, you can do so here.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
lilycobalt
Mar. 25th, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed learning more about Gabby's life before the release of Guardian and the uprising. Finding out about her background makes her feel like a deeper character to me.
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:21 am (UTC)
Thank you. She's become strong out of necessity, but she once had that innocence about her.

I've been working on developing a back story for all five of the main characters. It helps me write them in the here and now.
impoetry
Mar. 26th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
I love your work on this series. I really like Gabby. Well done!
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:21 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you like her.
theun4givables
Mar. 26th, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC)
Poor Gabby. =/ Getting a glimpse of her past like that definitely helps build her as a character. I'm sure a lot of the others have similar stories, too.
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
A lot of them are similar. I've been thinking a lot lately about their backgrounds and why they are who they are in the story.
audreybuttercup
Mar. 26th, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
:cries for Gabby: Bless her heart. I am becoming too damned attached to these characters!
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
She and Milton have very similar backgrounds (I think). I'm glad you're becoming attached. :)
(Deleted comment)
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
Thank you.
halfshellvenus
Mar. 28th, 2013 04:32 am (UTC)
What a nice use of the prompt-- all those sad and intense memories triggered off of a toy from a more innocent time. Finding out that Gabby was orphaned due to the disease, and knowing that she would be considered necessary of elimination later because she was an orphan, was somehow even sadder. Instead of stepping in to take care of its lost citizens, her government victimized them twice over. :(
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
You've got it exactly right. There should have been something in place to help her, but there wasn't and now she's suffered twice at the hands of government policy. The government really is the villain here and they have an evil agenda.
myrna_bird
Mar. 28th, 2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this bit of Gabby's history. You bring such life to your characters!
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it. Thank you.
n3m3sis42
Mar. 29th, 2013 12:38 am (UTC)
Awwww, Gabby. I don't know why it never occurred to me to wonder about her backstory (because it seems a natural thing to wonder about a kid living on the streets), but it didn't. I'm glad you told it anyway, and the doll was a poignant detail that made it feel more real.
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
I kind of knew that she would need something to trigger her into thinking about her past. It's been so long and she's buried a lot of memories, both good and bad. I'm really trying to explore all five characters back stories.
n3m3sis42
Mar. 29th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
I think that's a great idea. Your worldbuilding and plot are really compelling (and both things that don't come super easily to me). I'd love to feel like I knew the characters better as people because as someone who's obsessed with characters, they kind of make the story for me. :)

Also, I learn a lot about my characters and why they behave certain ways in the present when I do their back stories.

Edited at 2013-03-29 02:32 am (UTC)
tatdatcm
Mar. 29th, 2013 04:03 am (UTC)
Also, I learn a lot about my characters and why they behave certain ways in the present when I do their back stories.

That's what I'm finding. It makes them easier to write.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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