“We will be safe here,” I said to the twins as I opened our cabin door, nestled deep in the woods. The cabin was my grandfather’s fishing cabin, a place I visited often as a child. I hadn’t spent much time here with the kids, but had been going frequently without them to prepare us. And I knew we could ride out the fallout for at least a couple months with the supplies we had on hand, but was hopeful we wouldn’t need to.
I looked at the dark sky one last time before shutting and dead-bolting the door.
My shaky hand carefully lit an old oil lamp, illuminating the small space around us. I placed it in the center of an old trunk, used as a make-shift coffee table, and watched my twins look around the room with furrowed brows and thin lips.
There was a small kitchen on one side with an old poker table and four vinyl chairs, for dining. A mustard-colored velvet couch and matching chair occupied the other side with a small television and the pine walls were decorated with several large trophy fish, caked in layers of dust. The doors to the two small bedrooms and single bathroom were closed. Jimmy found the remote control, and sat down in front of the television on the floor.
“But no TV or lights,” I warned the boys, taking the remote from Jimmy’s hand. Todd booed and Jimmy folded his arms in response.
“That’s not fair, Mom!” Jimmy shouted. Only seven, they were the spitting image of my grandfather with large green eyes and dark hair. They were my everything.
“At least for now, until I know more.” I raised my arms in defense, then went to rummage through a drawer. Eventually, my hand retrieved the beat up deck of cards I was searching for. “Here,” I said, tossing the cards to Jimmy and Todd, “you can play with these.”
“Why are we really here, Mom?” Jimmy asked, picking up the deck to examine it. “And where is Dad?”
“Yeah,” Todd added, “when will he get here?” Todd was second out, and always on Jimmy’s tail. He plopped onto the couch, tossing his Star Wars backpack onto the floor beside him, which kicked up more dust. There was plenty of cleaning to keep me busy, to keep my mind off…everything.
“We are here because we have to be. It’s not safe at home, anymore.” I opened cabinets to take a quick count of food. Everything was still there, untouched. I grabbed some bottles of water and handed them to the boys.
“And Dad?” Jimmy repeated, as he took the water from my hand. Jimmy has always been the stronger one, my type A. He will be more difficult during this.
“I’m not sure,” I lied. I avoided eye contact as I went about locking the windows and closing the drapes.
They weren’t ready for the truth.
Photo courtesy of Vidar Kristiansen