She dug her fingers in and took a handful, then stood up and slowly sifted the earth back over the length of the grave. She stood back as the others filed around the perimeter of the grave. They knelt and scooped their own handfuls of dirt, even Ruthie. She sighed. Each person shook their dirt back down onto the grave, and Cass wondered what words they said in their minds. The dirt was sprinkled and still they ringed the grave, waiting. Randall dug in his pocket. Cass looked at him sharply, but for once Randall stared back with a hint of challenge in his expression.
Smoke squeezed her hand, shook his head. He had little to do with believers. Cass didn't want to take the beans. It was a common practice, almost secular by now; a whole new culture of loss, its habits and practices as ingrained as if generations of ancestors had practiced them.
It had only been eight months since the Air Force had rained kaysev down from the skies on their last flights, but eight months had been long enough to create new rituals. The plant was meant to feed the population; it had begun to feed their imaginations, as well.
Smoke saw everything through the filter of ideology and he was resolute, and Cass was inclined to agree with him, at least on this. Terrible memories of the Convent were too fresh, the mark its zealotry had left on Ruthie too deep. But unlike Smoke, she was not ready to declare Him absent.
Still, He was an elusive, crafty cipher to Cass, and for now she meant to keep Him distant.
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When Cass did not take the plastic bag from Randall's outstretched hand, the frowning man narrowed his eyes and upended it himself, the beans falling to the earth and rolling into the crevices and fissures in the earth. Then he stepped back from the grave, jamming the empty bag back into his pocket and brushing his hands together fastidiously. Everyone else followed him, retreating to the cleared area where the service had begun, shuffling slowly.
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Everyone, that is, but Cass, who picked up Ruthie and edged to the back of the small gathering while Randall raised his hands for a final benediction. What did it matter, though? Dead was still dead, and the rest of them were still here. The streets looked clear; there had been no Beater sightings for a couple of days. Randall moved among the graves, straightening the crosses and pulling weeds. Some of the graves were marked with crosses carved from wood, nailed together, finished to varying degrees.
One small one was painted white, with tiny shells glued along the edges. Most of the crosses were raw, hastily made, not even sanded. Some graves, like Gloria's, had no marker at all. For now, the dug and piled dirt marked its location, but it would not be long before the dirt would sink and level and no one would remember where she lay. Had it been up to Cass, she would have left the few plants that sprouted this time of year.
Aftertime: An Aftertime Novel, Book 1 (Unabridged)
To her mind the reappearance of each plant Aftertime was a miracle in itself, and her garden in the Box had a small square marked out with stakes and twine for each native species she found on her walks. Firethorn, pepperweed, crupina.
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Each of them once assumed gone forever. Cass wasn't sure how much longer she could stay here in the Box, where gloom had settled and quashed her hopes that it was a place fit for raising her little girl. Before, people made an effort for a child, even one as silent and strange as Ruthie was now. Under the hat, her hair was as short as a boy's; in the Convent they had shaved all the children bald.
But by spring Ruthie should have enough for a little pixie cut, something more girlie. There were no fat Gerber babies Aftertime. There were few babies at all. Starvation and the fever had taken so many, early on; the Beaters claimed many more. Cass knew firsthand how hard it was to look upon a child when your own was gone. But she had been given a second chance; she had gotten Ruthie back, and now she meant to cherish her.
She would dress her in the prettiest things she could find. She would give her everything that the battered world could provide. Ruthie's red coat was a gift from a quiet boy named Sam, who'd lost an eye in Yemen in the Rice Wars. He stopped by Cass and Smoke's tent after a raid and pulled it from his backpack, a soft, finely made woolen coat with carved shell buttons. He wouldn't trade for it, but he had accepted a cup of peppermint tea brewed from the last of Cass's herb garden before a hard freeze took all but the thyme and chervil.
Sam wasn't a talker, but he loved Ruthie. He airplaned her squealing through the air, carried her around on his shoulders and let her crawl all over his long lanky legs. Cass suspected Sam had once had a little brother or sister, or perhaps a niece or nephew. Whoever the child was, they were long gone, leaving Sam with a few good moves and, perhaps, an empty place in his heart. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist.
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Hanging by a Thread. That's What Frenemies Are For. July How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long. The title should be at least 4 characters long. Your display name should be at least 2 characters long. At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information. You submitted the following rating and review. We'll publish them on our site once we've reviewed them.
Continue shopping. Item s unavailable for purchase. Please review your cart. You can remove the unavailable item s now or we'll automatically remove it at Checkout. Remove FREE. Unavailable for purchase. Continue shopping Checkout Continue shopping. Chi ama i libri sceglie Kobo e inMondadori. Price: PHP You are in the Philippines store Not in Philippines? Choose Store. In this series View all Book 3. Book 1. Skip this list. Ratings and Book Reviews 0 0 star ratings 0 reviews. Overall rating No ratings yet 0. How to write a great review Do Say what you liked best and least Describe the author's style Explain the rating you gave Don't Use rude and profane language Include any personal information Mention spoilers or the book's price Recap the plot.
Close Report a review At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information. Would you like us to take another look at this review? No, cancel Yes, report it Thanks! You've successfully reported this review. We appreciate your feedback. The survivalist community Cass has planted roots in is breaking apart, too.
Its leader, Dor, implores Cass to help him recover his own lost daughter, taken by the totalitarian Rebuilders. Bound to two men blazing divergent paths across a savage land, Cass must overcome the darkness in her own savage, wounded heart, or lose those she loves forever.
Cass Dollar is my new Kara Thrace. I don't really know what to say after having read this second installment in Sophie Littlefield's Aftertime series.