The next morning, Carrie woke up blissfully recalling the crazy dream she’d had. Dream, she thought, more like nightmare. Imagine, being stuck in this town like that again. She cheerily helped her mother to the breakfast table and made them some bacon and eggs.
“You’re in a good mood this morning,” Joyce commented, “Had fun with Garrett did you?”
Carrie looked up at her mom, who winked. “Mom! No. That’s not what we did at all.” A tinge of her former teenage embarrassment slipped through.
Joyce giggled in response, “If you say so dear. Whatever you did, you should do it more often. I like a good breakfast and you don’t like cooking it for me!”
Carrie sighed, “True enough. All we did was retrieve the horses, then later in the evening he came and got me and we went…” she trailed off.
Her mother’s eyes were twinkling and Carrie felt a little irked but she still paused, remembering her dream and not really sure at all what they did. The thoughts conflicted in her mind, what did happen? That couldn’t have all been real. She shook her head and finished breakfast.
On her way out to tend the horses, Carrie glanced down the road towards the bridge. Everything looked normal, so she shrugged off the lingering thoughts of her dream.
Just as she was finishing up in the barn, she realized she had never checked all of the fence lines after the earthquake the day before. That part certainly hadn’t been a dream. She turned the horses out in the west field except Chess, who she rode out along the fences. All of the west field was secure. There were a few loose fence posts down in the south fields, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed later on. Maybe she’d convince Garrett to come by with his two brothers some day to set them right. The thought made her smile, and she rode along east fence up towards the north without thinking about much else.
As she approached the northeast corner, she suddenly realized they were heading south instead. “Woah,” she stopped Chess and spun him around. “That can’t be…” Heading back towards the corner, she stared at where they were going and thought about nothing else, but as they got close they were suddenly heading south again. Chess didn’t seem to even notice. Carrie knew they must have switched direction, but had no recollection of it happening. Her heart sank as she realized the strange events of the day before had, in fact, really happened.
She reigned Chess to a halt, and glanced behind them at the corner. As usual, nothing seemed amiss. But now she felt panic creeping up inside of her. Something was very wrong with this. They turned back towards the barn, quickly reaching a gallop.
When Carrie stepped into the house, Joyce caught the mood shift right away. “Problem with the horses, Care?”
“No mum, not the horses, they’re fine. The fence, well it has problems, but there’s something else wrong. I can’t figure it out.”
“Well what is it then?”
“I have no idea, mum, something is going on and I can’t even explain it.”
“Hmm,” Joyce rocked in her chair a few moments before continuing, “Sounds to me like you need to figure out what the problem is before you go looking for the answer.”
Carrie gave a confused look in response, but it did make her realize she didn’t want to concern her mother with what was really going on until she figured it out. She went into the kitchen for a glass of water, hoping to clear her mind and noticed that she’d left her mother’s medicine sitting on the counter that morning.
Medicine, she thought in alarm, If I can’t leave town, how can I get her medicine?
A fluttery feeling crept into her chest as she picked up the bottle, Two weeks until she needs it refilled. Two weeks… and food! What will happen when the town runs out of food?
Gripped with this new panic, she headed out the door, calling to her mom, “I… forgot something in town. I’ll be right back, mum, ok?”
Joyce smiled, “Certainly Care, you take your time.”
Town was busier than normal and it almost seemed as if no one had truly gone home the night before. Small groups of people were scattered about by buildings, talking. Most waved as she drove past and pulled into the grocery store parking lot. It was cooler today than it had been, but even if it’d been hot Carrie wasn’t of a mindset to park in the shade today. Some dust swirled around her feet as she hopped out of her truck. She had the slightest presence of mind to wonder why no one else was here to get food while it still remained. Maybe they just hadn’t thought that far ahead yet.
The tiny bell rang as the door closed behind her, and she paused, looking around in confusion. The small grocery store normally never had an abundance of food, but today it seemed well stocked. Ellen greeted her from behind the counter, “Good morning Carrie, glad to see you’re safe and here in town with the rest of us. Is your house inside?
The question gave her pause, “What?”
“Inside the circle dear,” then Ellen smiled. “Of course your house must be inside. You’re here, after all.”
“Yeah… yeah it is,” Carrie was getting tired of feeling so confused all the time, but at least her panic had lessened a little. “Hey Ellen, what are you going to do when the store gets low on supplies?”
To her surprise, Ellen chuckled. “That’s the hot topic of the morning, haven’t you heard? I can’t explain it, well isn’t that life right now! But the store seems to have filled back up overnight.”
“I had quite a time last night, talking with the sheriff about how we need to ration things. Even gave a fair amount of supplies to a few people as they left for the night, insisting they had to have food and what have you. Wouldn’t have guessed this morning I’d have everything back in stock.”
“You bet. Everything I’d given out and more. It just restocked itself. Miracle from God, I say.”
Garrett stepped into the store. “Ellen…,” He paused, then cleared his throat. “Hey Carrie, everything all right?”
Carrie shook her head, then nodded, then shrugged while trying to process this new information, “Yeah… I think so.”
Ellen shuffled out to give Garrett a pat on the cheek. He seemed embarrassed, but it wasn’t anything new, her being his Great Aunt. “I’ve just got on explaining to Carrie how the shop is all stocked up.”
Garrett nodded, “Yeah, that’s true Carrie, if you’re worried about food it doesn’t seem like we’ll have a problem there.”
“Miracle from God!” Ellen chirped as she shuffled back to the storage room behind the counter.
Carrie and Garrett both stepped back outside the shop, but Carrie was still nervous, wringing her hands. Garrett frowned. “What’s wrong… Joyce?”
“No, Garrett she’s fine. I mean, for now she is, but what about her medicine? If I can’t leave town to get it, what will I do? She can’t go on without it…”
Garrett put both of his hands on her arms, making her look up at him instead of at her hands. “How much have you got?”
“Two weeks but…”
“All right then. It’s all right. Two weeks, we might have it all sorted by then anyhow. And if we don’t, what about the store? You heard what happened. Maybe it will be fine.”
Carrie felt as though her knees would become too weak to hold her anymore, “And if not…?”
Garrett sighed, and pulled her into a hug. “If not, well… we have two weeks. We might still figure it out.”
“Has the sheriff found out anything new?” a slight hope emerged.
“Naw, not yet. But they’re still looking, Care. It’s ok, for now, we’re ok.”
Carrie caught the use of her nickname this time, and to her surprise it soothed her. She’d thought perhaps from him it might frustrate her… reminding her of times past when he would not give up this town for her. I suppose it doesn’t matter now, I’m here, he’s here… it might be ok.
“Do you think you could come stay over at my house? Just until we figure this out, I’m worried…”
“Of course. I’ll do anything to help…”
Carrie pulled gently out of his hug, “Thank you Garrett.” She wasn’t sure what she felt about him now. The days were such a blur of confusion. But he was still willing to be here for her and that mattered.