Start It wasn't as if she couldn't remember what it was like before, but more so that she chose to leave that reality behind. After all, that distant past was a paradise while this, was little more than a desert wasteland. While the beautiful dreams continued to fade day after day, the growing nightmares grew in their place.
The scorching sun beat down on the woman’s long blonde hair, her blue eyes, seemingly empty as they stared out along the path in front of her. Buildings had begun to decay over the years, the sands slowly starting to swallow them whole. It was their way of claiming what had once been theirs to begin with. Holding her compass out in front of her the woman felt a small shiver slide down her back. Though she was traveling alone, it felt like someone was following her. That feeling had been creeping slowly upon her for the last couple of minutes as she’d taken in what small bit of scenery lay ahead of her.
Hand gripping at her pocket where the small, yet sharp knife she’d acquired hid the woman spun quickly. What she found in front of her came as a shock. A small child no older than six, was standing behind her. Fear was shining from her brown orbs, face speckled with both dirt and freckles. As a small gust of wind kicked up sand the child’s little brown curls fell in front of her eyes, and tears began to stream down her face.
“Where are your parents?” The question fell from the woman’s mouth before she could even think. It wasn’t common for children to be born in this day and age, but those that did were normally quite sheltered by their parents. To see one out wandering like this, in even half the condition she was, would be a miracle. Lowering herself to the girl’s level the woman brushed the curls slowly away from her face, and wiped the tears gently.
As she wiped the tears from the little girl’s eyes she felt a small tug at her sleeve. Smiling slowly understanding the non-verbal question the woman slowly grabbed the child’s hand. With a silent agreement the two began to head towards the sand covered city, the woman hoping that there was a possible safety zone, or at least a small place for them to hide.
Walking past building after building the woman began to let her memories flood her thoughts. Before the world as she’d known it had ended she herself was a mother to a little girl around the child next to hers age. Beautiful little brown curls, big bright eyes, and a smile that could light up the darkest of days. The tragedy that befell their family just months before the end had left her not only broken spiritually, but so far emotionally that she’d wished for nothing less than the end of the world. Gripping the locket that swung silently around her neck, the woman could feel the cold wetness of tears slowly gliding down her face.
“Hey!” looking up the woman saw someone waving to her in the distance. Sliding the young child slowly behind her, the woman stopped in her tracks. With how things were after the fall you had to be cautious who you trusted. As the figure came closer she noticed they wore a military uniform, “We’ve been searching for anyone who might be traveling in the area. Are you both alright?” The woman nodded cautiously taking in the man in front of her. He was built, standing around six foot, and he seemed to wear dust on his uniform like a shield.
“I’m sure you don’t trust me, but if you are willing to at least accept my small olive branch I’d like to bring you guys back with me to our camp. We’ve got some food, water, some medical equipment if you guys are hurt at all. It’s not much, and there isn’t very many of us, but we’re trying to help build a small safe place for those out here alone.” Though hesitant of the offer the woman had to think of more than just herself. This small child had been wandering for an unknown amount of time. Had she had any food, shelter, or supplies at all? Since she had wandered upon her alone, the woman had to guess that she hadn’t. How long she’d been that way was undetermined as well.
“As you said I can’t say I trust you, but the little girl with me could really use some rest and food. We will follow you, but I promise, one wrong move, and I will end you. She is my top priority for safety no matter what.” The man nodded understanding the terms the woman laid out. Turning back to the little girl the woman lowered herself once more to her level. She explained calmly what was going on, and that she would, no matter the danger, protect her. A small smile slid across the little girl’s features in understanding before taking the woman’s hand once more.
Grabbing the heart shaped locket once more the woman turned, nodding silently at the man to lead the way. Though fear, mistrust, and worry were at the forefront of her mind, the woman now had a new goal, a new reason to keep going. No matter the cost, even her life in this nightmare, the woman would stand by her promise and guard this little girl. That was her new promise, one that she would hold dearly just as she held the ashes of her child within the locket clasped around her neck.