Broken Bread–Short story by Rusty Rimes

Dark, dismal days, as the sun tries breaking through a sulphuric haze overlaying our little town. Four years now, right in the middle of the battle lines drawn between two religious factions. Both claimed they were fighting for God, but all they were doing was raising hell for us.

I am Mareek, son of the once mayor of Abbul, a quiet little town where mostly local farmers sold their goods. Now a war torn assembly of remnants, looking more like piles of rubbish, than shacks people are living in, or trying to. There are few left now, some escaped when the fighting broke out, many have been killed, or maimed for life, and the lucky ones have lost their sanity. My father the former mayor, alas is no longer among those still standing. I stay only for my mother, Seballa, who refuses to leave her birthright, our ancestral home, even if it is no more then a pile of rubble now.

“Mother I am slipping out during this lull to see if I can scavenge us some food.”, as I look through the peep-hole to check the street. Clear, good, now if “Mareek please, do not get dead today my child, the bullets will fly again soon I fear.”, quietly mother admonishes before I get the door cracked. Quiet as a ghost passing through walls, which I am sure our little town has more than enough of, I slip out into the haze of early morn. Maybe, in one of the collapsed old markets, I can unearth some dried goods, possibly a can or two, if I don’t have the place crumble further on me, or get shot. But we are close to starvation, which will be certain death if we do not eat soon.

Nearing the markets remains, I notice movement to my right, dropping quickly behind a partial wall, staring to see if I can catch glimpse of what drew my attention. There, a flash of dirt streaked red amongst the shades of grey and charcoal, and it’s moving. My mind grasps hold of a memory, I know that pattern, it is one of the towns residents, Kailish, an older man by ten or more years. I whistle softly to let him know I am present, and he nearly runs from the shock of hearing an unexpected noise. Though to give him credit, he only moved inches, if there were a shooter it would have been enough to get killed. Looking now he sees me, signalling for us to meet behind another chunk of wall. We both start carefully working our way to reach it unobserved by any others.

“Mareek, how is Seballa doing nowadays?” Kailish asks foregoing formal greetings,as we clasp arms in hello. “She is starving, as are we Kailish, my friend. You look thinner than the noodles I was hoping to find.” as I look at his ribs showing through his ragged garments. “Shall we work together to see if there remains anything the rats have not found yet?” I ask, knowing the anxiety of having to share food, brings to all right now. “Your father was a good mayor, and he would have helped any in need, let it be so between us. ” as he held out his arm again.

“And that mother is why we have food today, if Kailish had not saved my life from that wall collapsing, I would not have come home at all.”

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