Vox Populi

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vox populi
  1. the voice of the people; popular opinion.

 

There were some days that Eddie actually enjoyed being from a big family…well, actually there were two days a year that Eddie actually enjoyed being from a big family. The rest of the year, he struggled to follow his parents’ repetitive advice to “Appreciate family while you have us, Eddie!”

He often closed his eyes to keep from rolling them–so he wouldn’t be chastised further–before nodding his head and verbalizing his compliance.

Really, he wanted to be honest and say that it was hard to appreciate family when there was always a sister, an uncle, a brother, or a cousin who was always in his face and always in his space. Because, if he was perfectly honest, he didn’t really expect there to ever be a day when one moment of solitude was actually possible–it had never been that way.

But on days like today, that didn’t matter. Gathering Day, which happened once a year and preceded Feasting Day, was Eddie’s favorite.

Although he didn’t appreciate waking before sunrise to start Gathering Day, or the speeches by the elders that lasted until the sun actually rose, he agreed with the vox populi, seeing the usefulness of working together to make sure they had enough food stored for the colony and any unexpected emergencies.

But the best thing about Gathering Day was that when it was over, he would be able to enjoy Feasting Day. It was the only day in the year when his mother made all of his favorite foods and they celebrated nonstop–dancing, laughing, telling stories of the elders who had passed and what life in the colony was like long before any of them were born.

The day after Feasting Day was just another work day, but that one day of celebrating was enough to keep him going all year long.

Eddie carried his bread back toward the storage compartment, finding it strange that his shadow began to disappear on the ground beneath his as if someone had hidden the sun and its light.

He looked up toward the sky as he continued to make his way toward storage. The clouds were moving faster than usual and appeared much darker than they had just moments earlier.

“That’s kind of weird…” he said, absentmindedly. “Hey Uncle Mark, have you ever–”

A strong gust of wind almost dislodged his bread from his back. Before he could say anything, the rain began.

He had never seen raindrops so big before. The pace slowed to a halt as everyone looked up. Even the elders seemed to wrinkle their brows quizzically, confused by the sudden increase in rain.

A peel of thunder made the entire colony jump, their motions appeared fragmented by the sudden illumination of lighting across the sky.

The murmuring started slowly and grew until it seemed everyone was screaming nonsensically.

“Back into the colony,” his Uncle Jess bellowed from somewhere behind him. “Drop everything!”

The rain seemed to be coming faster, or maybe that was his imagination as everyone ran for safety.

No, the rain was falling with more force and the drops were bigger.

Eddie struggled to keep his head down and move fast enough to avoid tripping over his nephews while not getting trampled by his older cousins.

A familiar scream paralyzed his legs. His older sister Sara was above them on the hill where she usually spent Gathering Day, monitoring the intake. But now she seemed frozen in fear, her mouth agape. He followed her gaze, but couldn’t quite see what was scaring her, which sent further panic into his limbs. He was about to yell to her to get to the colony, when a raindrop the size of a bumble bee smothered her body, dragging her away.

Eddie’s body began to shake violently. He looked around him, everyone else was shaking too. It was the ground. The ground was moving. He struggled to take it air.

He had no idea the one thing he thought would be impossible, was about to become his new reality.

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