Founder’s Day

There hadn’t been a water delivery yet that day; the general consensus among the old men sitting in the shade in front of the meeting house was that there likely wouldn’t be a water delivery at all.

“The Vylid started their weekend early.”

“The Vylid started drinking early.”

“Don’t take much.”

Callo walked down the dusty path towards the Wind, just to be sure there wasn’t a tanker crawling its way alone the snakelike road that led to the plateau. He was staring down at it when he felt Lise at his elbow.

“We have some left.” She whispered it, conspiratorially. “Not much. Mother has been rationing us for two weeks, just in case. She said this might happen.”

“You mother doesn’t like—”

“I’ll share mine.” Her fingers wrapped around his forearm, slid down to his palm.

“There’s so much water,” he said wistfully, “right down there.” Past the Wind, past the foothills and the Vylid town and the beach, was the vast ocean: Buol territory.

“Salt water. Can’t drink that.”

“I made a solar still. It—”

“What’s that?”

“Turns saltwater to fresh. Works by sunlight.”

Her fingers gripped his hand tightly. “We’re not allowed down there.”

“We need water.”

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