AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece about artist May Ellison is not part of the novel. This is also a Sunday Scribblings post. Please to go the Sunday Scribblings for more fun!
Sand. Then a silk scarf from a looted department store. Next, a pot over a propane flame, where the water boiled into steam and rose into a tube, condensing as water again in another basin. If she wanted to be extra-sure, she could pour the cooled water into glass bottles and lay them on a dark surface in the sun to pasteurize.
May’s water was good and she had no need to fight or beg for water filters like some of the other young people did since the pandemic. Her education had been good for something, at least. Clean water was more precious than gold in the wreckage of the city.
But May had little real interest in science; such things were a means to an end. Her true love lay in the chemicals she combined into brightly glowing colors to light her ramshackle shop, and in the acids that etched the glass and plastic detritus of civilization that she made into jewelry and baubles.
No one needed decorative things to survive, but they soothed her in ways pure water never could. Survival of the body was a simple matter. Saving one’s soul required a different kind of alchemy.