“Kelsey stood in a long line of ragged people…” And so she did every week at the Hand-Out waiting to receive her weekly rations. But the rations were getting smaller and the people were getting worried.
“Had life always been like this: hunger, want, and disease?” As far as Kelsey knew, it always had, but when she finds the journal of Henry Martin everything begins to change.
Learning that her best friend is part of an underground resistance is strange enough, but finding out that she is the prophesied liberator of the people is almost too hard to believe. Will Kelsey be strong enough to fulfill that prophesy?
M.A. Foxworthy has been an educator for over fourteen years. She lives near Austin, TX with her husband and five children. She met Kelsey in a daydream four years ago and couldn’t rest till Kelsey’s story was told.
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Kelsey stood in a long line of ragged people. She had risen at daybreak in hopes of receiving her rations before the sun reached its zenith and the suffocating heat of midday arrived. But her hopes were unfulfilled, as she had been waiting for hours with the blazing sun beating down on the top of her head.
Resigned now to the long wait that still lay ahead of her, she plopped down on her wagon and surveyed her surroundings. All around her stood the remains of small cob dwellings with thick walls that had at one time been painted white. They were now crumbling like a child's mud pie left baking in the sun for too long. The metal roofs that had kept out the rain were gone, having been recycled in some other village. There was a school and a child care center, but they were both empty now. Most of the residents had died when the dreaded disease flew into their village carried by the tiny wings of mosquitoes. The children and the old had suc-cumbed first and the few adults that remained were moved to other villages, while this one was left to Mother Nature and the Hand-Out where Kelsey now waited for her weekly allowance of food.
She turned her attention away from the decaying remains of the village to the people standing around her. They were different: men, women, and children, some young and some old. And yet there was a sameness about them, a tired and hungry look in their hollow eyes. All were dressed in the same shade of dingy beige with their hair and nails looking as though it had been weeks since they had been cleaned. And that was probably true. In good times the people were only allowed two bathes a week, but in a time of drought, as it was now, they were lucky to get one. Kelsey didn't like to think about it, but she knew she too looked as grungy as these squalid villagers.
“What if they run out of food before they get to us?” The little woman standing next to Kelsey whined.
“They won’t,” assured the man with her.
“But they will. They will,” she wailed pitifully. The little woman with the dust-coloured hair was beginning to draw attention to herself.
Kelsey tried not to look at them but leaned in a little closer to hear better what they were talking about.
“Nancy! Nancy, stop!” The man commanded in a hushed voice. He pulled her in close to him to control the writhing of her small body. “Now, tell me why you’re sayin’ this.”
“Sandi told me. You know she cleans the Governor’s house?” He nodded his head, yes. “Well, she just happened to find a letter, real official like she said, and she read it.” The dusty wom-an began to twist her hands so that Kelsey thought she might break her own tiny wrists.
“What did it say?” The man asked as he grabbed hold of her hands.
“It said they was considering holdin’ the Hand-Outs every two weeks instead of like they do now every week.” She looked up at him with wide, tear-filled eyes. “What’re we gonna do Bill? There ain’t enough food now,” she moaned, and as if completely exhausted she fell forward into her husband’s chest and began to weep.
The woman’s outburst had drawn the attention of the others awaiting their rations and some began to whisper and point in her direction. Others purposely turned their heads away pretending not to notice.
Her husband pushed her back and held her at arm’s length. “Nancy, you’ve got to stop. You’re drawin’ attention to us.” He looked around and saw an Enforcer had noticed the disturbance and was making his way toward them. Frantically searching his person for something the crying woman could wipe her face with, he finally pulled a torn piece of cloth from his pocket. “Take this,” he said as he shoved the filthy bit of material into her hand. She looked at it mystified as to what he wanted from her. “Wipe your face,” he commanded. “Stop cryin’. The Enforcer’s comin’.”
The little woman dried her tear-streaked face and tried to affect a smile. But it was too late; the Enforcer was already upon them. He stood at least a head taller than Bill and he glowered down at them. The words broke violently from his curled lips; each word was enunciated by the pounding of his baton on the palm of his hand. With his truncheon in hand he used it to enunciate each word as it violently broke free from his lips.