Later that night as she lay in Galahad’s arms, Cassie said, “So what did you trade for the goat? I mean the truth, not what you said down there.”

“I already told you.” With his finger, he traced a path on her bare stomach. “Mundo had a stash of trade goods he was keeping for emergencies. Liquor, cigarettes, guns…stuff like that.”

“So you really didn’t steal it?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because that goat might produce enough milk for all the children, not just the baby. If we could’ve gotten something that useful before, why didn’t we?”

“Motivation. And the state of our alliances.”

“Then how come David says you stole it?”

Galahad stopped moving his hand across her skin. “David says too many things.”

“But is it true?”

Galahad rolled onto his back. “It didn’t come off as easy as I made it sound. I didn’t want to bore anyone with the details.”

“So you did steal it.”

“Not exactly. Let’s just say it wasn’t one of our cleaner trades.”

Cassie clutched a pillow to her chest. “For someone who claims to be so interested in civilization, you sure get yourself into unethical situations.”

“I know. But I didn’t want that poor kid to die and me not do everything I could to help. Sometimes you have to do wrong to do right.” He plucked the pillow from her arms and pulled her close. “You looked sweet holding that baby, by the way.”

“Don’t get any ideas.”

“I’m not. I already hate thinking how I’ll be leaving you alone when I die. I wouldn’t want to leave you with a kid, too.” He shifted position. “That’s why I worry maybe we shouldn’t keep doing this.”

Cassie sat up. This wasn’t some noble-sounding excuse to reject her, was it? “I haven't had my period in months.” She felt herself blush even though she wasn’t particularly embarrassed. “I’m too thin. The body shuts down reproduction when a person is starving.”

“So you’re saying I don’t need to forage condoms?”

“Not unless I gain a little weight.”

“Well, that’ll be soon if I can help it. Wait here.”

Cassie lay back among the covers while Galahad padded into the kitchen. After a few minutes, he returned and her eyes widened in wonderment at the box in his hands. “Cocoa Puffs?”

“It was a good foraging day. It wasn’t easy to sneak this away, though.”

Cassie took the box reverently and broke open the inner bag. The cereal was stale, but tasted delicious. “Too bad we don’t have a little of that goat milk. We could pretend it’s a pre-Telo Saturday morning.”

“All we’d need is cartoons.”

She dug her hand back into the box. “This whole place is a cartoon. Just not a very funny one.”

They spent a pleasant half hour talking, eating slowly to make the treat last longer. At one point Galahad made Cassie lie on her back so he could place Cocoa Puffs on her breasts and naked belly and eat them off one by one. The one he lodged in her navel proved troublesome and Cassie giggled at his efforts with tongue and teeth. “You really are crazy, you know that?”

He gave up on the piece of cereal. “If I am, it’s because no one wins against time and Telo.”



Anonymous said...

Keep chugging way with the story.

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Alice Audrey said...

Darn it! I was all warm and fuzzy feeling until that last line. He better not leave a coco puff in her belly button either. I take it she's an inny.