Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pantry - Hiding in the Garage - Still In Progress

There was only one place left, they had to be in the garage. She held her breath and firmly instructed the universe: they will be in the garage. It was so quiet she could hear the soft metallic clicks the roof made when the sun heated it. It was more quiet than anywhere else in the house, unnaturally so, as if the walls were holding their breath, ‘Zac? Zac? They’re gone. It’s safe.’ No sound, no movement. Sean looked around carefully. One wall was stacked with a short ziggurat of storage boxes. He looked inside the boxes of the first layer, then starting from the end nearest the door, pulled out the first row.
As he pulled out the third box they could see a dark gap in the row behind. Zac was looking up at them, crouched in front, with Ella and Liam crammed in behind him, hidden in a nook made from pushing apart two of the back boxes. Zac had a hammer grasped with both hands. He was primed, like a cat ready to pounce.
Ella burst in to tears. ‘I breathed, I couldn’t help it.’ She even cried quietly. ‘I’m sorry Zac.’
‘You can come out, it’s safe.’
Zac looked warily at Sean. ‘What happened?’
‘Some...’ Hannah could see Sean struggling to find words to convince Zac that wouldn’t scare the littlies. ‘Some people came to the front door. They’re gone now.’
‘What people?’ He held the hammer like a talisman.
‘No one. No one we know.’
‘Mum threw up.’ Sean didn’t look surprised, just tired. He looked to her for an answer.  He was spent, but he had no choice but to deal with whatever came next. His shoulders sag, he looked bowed.
‘I don’t think I’d be better this morning if it was the virus. And, I don’t have a cough.’ But what she was thinking was, too late now anyway.
Zac was wavering, he shook his hammer at Sean with less resolve. ‘You might be sick. It’s not two days.’
All three children were watching Sean. ‘Maybe, probably not.’ Zac still had the hammer, but now he was holding it self consciously. ‘And you’re standing right next to Ella, so there’s no point worrying about me.’ Zac looked twitchy and wired. He opened his mouth to speak, but was distracted before whatever was on his mind came out. He was exhausted. ‘You did a good job. You found a safe place for Liam and Ella.’ Sean put his hand on Zac’s shoulder and Zac dropped the hammer, as if he’d lost all strength in his arms. He wrapped his arms around Sean’s middle and buried his face in his clothes, like he had when he was little. ‘How did you keep them so quiet?’
 ‘We’re good at hidings. Zac said so.’ Ella’s voice was soft and solemn.
‘Is it two o’clock yet?’ Liam looked for permission from Hannah. ‘Do Daddy and Ella have to go back in the office?’
‘It’s fine.’ She grabbed Liam and Ella in a tight hug.
‘Mum, you’re squashing me.’ She let them go, reluctantly. ‘Maybe Ella’s Dad’s home now.’ Liam kept looking to Zac for cues, but Zac was still hanging on to Sean. If Liam tried hard to be helpful, then maybe everything would be normal.

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