The overripe fruit burst under her finger in a splatter of pulp. Ilva curled up like a bug at the sound, counting to 10 before she lifted her head.
The field was still the same—vines heavy with rotting fruit, their sticky smell, and the quiet undisturbed by even the sound of a fly. Ilva looked at the meager collection of fruit in her basket. It had to be enough.
The plop of a fat raindrop on her hand startled her again. But this time she smiled, looking up at the darkening clouds. Heavy rain would muffle the sound of conversation. Taking it as a good sign, she scurried back to the crumbling building that served as her latest home.
Ilva, along with several others, made it in before it really came down. The tense lines around everyone’s mouths eased the longer it went on. Except the Keeper’s. She had her usual sorrowful expression on her old-young face.
Ilva hated her eyes. They always looked seconds away from tears. But what she hated most was the Keeper’s cheeks, plump from eating the best of everyone’s harvest. When she asked Pa about it, he shook her until Ma stepped in.
It was her turn to take the best from each basket and feed the Keeper. Ilva grabbed what she could and walked to where she sat. Her fingers brushed up against a fruit spotty with mold. Before she could think about it, Ilva popped the rotten fruit into the Keeper’s mouth.
Let her see what it’s like, she thought.
The Keeper began screaming when Ilva turned away. Someone ran to the Keeper and shook her hard enough to crack her head on the side of the wall. But it was too late. The luck keeping them safe fled along with her life. The Finders had certainly heard the noise. And they would be coming.
|Photo by Del Barrett on Unsplash|
Song Choice: In Hiding by Pearl Jam
This flash fiction was created for Poets United's Pantry of Prose. This month's theme is gothic stories.