“What is old mother Cartwright doing?” Bo said looking out of a hole in the plastic at the old woman. Jigger snorted “She’s just a crazy, she does this the same time every year“ Bo continued to watch as the old woman pegged out coloured bits of paper onto her front door.
Grandfather came in and stood beside her, he smiled. “She’s doing it for the feast of Christmas” he said “Attempting to bring a little cheer into this dreary tired world.”
What’s Christmas? The children asked Grandpa shrugged “ A long time ago before the dark came, people used to celebrate, something to do with a baby being born I believe. It was before I was alive but she is very old and she can remember what it was like when she was a child, before the world went mad.”
He sighed, “It must have been wonderful, before the bombs and the scavenagers came." "The fire and the blood and the disease killed everything beautiful.” She told me that once
“Why does she do it? Jigger asked. “Oh she believes the world will heal itself one day.” They watched the old woman for a minute more as she shuffled around in the snow, a mobile bundle of rags.
She stopped before she headed back to her shipping container. She held out her hand and smiled to herself at a movement on the ground. Small twitchy and bright, a tiny bit of colour in a gray world.” She reached into her pocket and threw down some crumbs, food was scarce but she could spare a few scraps.
‘How long had it been since she had seen one, it must have been seventy years or more’ she thought. She chuckled, nobody laughed these days, she wondered if they knew how. Then she went indoors. It was a sign, she had been waiting for it.
She sat in her chair by the fire knowing that she would not see the morning. It didn’t matter, She had witnessed the first signs of recovery. One speck of life meant the planet was finally thawing and healing.
She closed her eyes for a final time knowing that she was leaving a better world than the one she had come into. Most of them had never seen a bird or any other kind of animal. Except the vicious eight legged rats and the giant feral pigs that raided their food dump.
They would never know that her little symbol of hope was called a robin.
She sighed dreamily and thought that they would just have to work it all out for themselves, and that perhaps they would do a little better this time round. Who knew…