I’ve been keeping myself busy – well, Joe has been keeping me busy. He likes to give me lots to do. He thinks he’s keeping me out of trouble. I’d like to know what kind of trouble can I get into here? As far as I can tell, all the trouble has been sucked out of the world, and we’re supposed to behave ourselves and do good works and all that stuff. I asked Joe how he thinks I’m going to make a living doing good works. That’s when he hit me with a real kicker: there’s no money anymore.
I know. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard it. No money?
“You get whatever you need,” Joe told me. “Just go to the store and ask for it.” I told him he was nuts, but he just laughed. “You gotta try and get your head around it, Ash. The world you knew is gone.”
We take a walk to the edge of town, where the houses fade away into farmland. It’s a nice place. I often go there myself when I need to think things over, to ‘get my head around’ things. It hasn’t been easy, but at least when I come here I can breathe in the fresh fragrance of growing things, and feel like I’m still somehow in the world.
We passed a group of young people planting flowers around the doorway of a big red barn – beautiful flowers, all kinds, in every color you could imagine. Two young women wrestled a large shrub into a ready-made hole in the ground, and were busy scraping dirt around it. A third girl was planting what looked like daffodil bulbs in a small raised bed, while a fourth lifted blooming hyacinths out of a cardboard box.
A young man pressed flowers into the ground, patting the rich, dark earth into small mounds around the new plants. He was wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans over his taut, slender frame, and he seemed to take special care as he planted the flowers, checking each one to be sure it was securely rooted. His dark blond hair stood up in tufts all over his head. He glanced up when we passed by, and that gaze galvanized me like nothing else ever has.
“Jamie.” I’d been looking for him almost since the first moment I awoke in this place, and now he was here, right here in front of me. I started forward, but Joe hooked a hand around my arm and stopped me. “Why can’t I talk to him?” I asked.
Joe shook his head. “Not just yet, Ash. There’s still some things to figure out.”