Word count: 637
Prompt: Daughters of Clio: "antique rocking chair"
There was a knock on Sevath’s door. She shed the top layer of blankets and moved as quickly as she could to answer it. She wasn’t sure why she was even bothering, except for a vague idea that whoever it was might have something useful. Like matches. Matches would help.
At the door were neighbors she vaguely recognized from down the street, Andri and Kelen. Their son had been killed in the same school bombing that had taken Sevath’s younger sisters. They wore heavy coats and Kelen carried a flashlight that was turned off. “Sevath,” Andri said with a warm smile that seemed to crack the sides of her face. “I’m glad you’re all right. Look, we’re gathering together in the Catholic church. It’s the only place that has enough space. If you want to come, bring whatever food you have and anything you can bring that will burn, so we can have heat.”
Sevath stared, unable to believe what she was hearing for a moment. “Everyone’s… working together?”
Kelen nodded. “It’s the only way we can make it through this winter.”
Sevath continued to stare at them, then a laugh suddenly ripped its way out of her, as though she hadn’t even decided to let it happen. “Right. I’m coming. Of course I am. The Catholic church?”
“That’s right,” Andri said. “We’re letting people know. If you have more stuff than you can carry, let them know when you get there.”
“Right. Of course. I’ll see you soon.” Sevath went back into the house, leaving the door open—it was no colder outside than in now, and anyway, she had no plans to return—and shedding her blankets. They were mostly artificial, nothing she could bring, and she couldn’t walk with them on. She pulled on her bulky winter coat; she was already wearing all the rest of her clothes that could be layered together.
She looked at the empty, dusty dining room and considered what she could bring. The table was wooden, and the chairs that went with it. She would have to send someone back to get them. They were too heavy for her. But there were a few cans in the pantry. She piled them into her pockets as best as she could. What furniture could she carry? She lifted her grandmother’s antique rocking chair. As she’d thought, that was light enough to maneuver, though it might be awkward. And she could put food on it.
There was a head of cabbage in the fridge, and a few shriveled potatoes in a paper bag. They weren’t appetizing, but they had calories, and that was the important thing. She put them on the rocking chair and picked it up carefully. Yes, she could carry this.
She was panting, and almost warm from exertion, by the time she reached the church. “Welcome,” said the priest at the door, reaching out to help with her burden. “Wonderful—and is that canned food in your pockets? I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us.” He handed the rocking chair to a tall, broad-shouldered young man, who carried it to a pile she could dimly see near the center of the nave, and a middle-aged woman took the food.
“There’s more wooden furniture in my house,” she told the priest, giving him her address. “A table and chairs in the dining room. They’re too heavy for me to carry.”
“That’s wonderful,” he said. “Make yourself at home; someone else will get the fuel.”
Sevath turned toward the open area, the church looking strange; evidently they had stripped out all the benches. Someone waved at her. Suddenly a pile in the middle flared with life. There was a fire. Sevath fought back tears as she walked toward it as fast as she could, desperate to be warm.