File1, 2, & 3 for pthomason:



For the past ten years you've lived as ordinary a life as possible. You
came to Tirimo from elsewhere; the townsfolk don't really care where or
why. Since you were obviously well educated, you became a teacher at the
local creche for childeren age ten to thirteen. You're neither the best
teacher nor the worst; the children forget you when they move on, but
they learn. The butcher probably knows your name because she likes to
flirt with you. The baker doesn't because you're quiet, and because like
everyone else in town he just thinks of you as Jija's wife.
You're the mother of two children, but now one of them is dead and the
other is missing. Maybe she's dead, too. You discover all of this when
you come home for work one day. House empty, too quiet, tiny little boy
all bloody and bruised on the den floor.
And You.. shutdown. You don't mean to. It's just a bit much,
isn't it? Too much. You've been through a lot, you're very strong, but
there are limits to what even you can bear.


Two days pass before anyopne comes for you.
You've spent them in the house with your dead son. You've risen,
used the toilet, eaten something from the coldvault, drunk the last
trickle of water from the tap. These things you coul ddo without
thinking, by rote. Afterward, you returned to Uche's side.
(You fetched him a blanket during one of these trips. Covered
him up to his ruined chin. Habit. The steampipes have stopped rattling;
it's cold in the house. He could catch something.)
Late the next day, someone knocks at the house's front door. You
do not stir yourself to answer it. That would require you to wonder who
is there and whether you should let them in. Thinking of these things
would make you consider your son's corpse under the blanket, and why
would you want to do that? You ignore the door knock.


Someone bangs at the window in the front room. Persistent. You ignore
this, too.
Finally, someone breaks the glass on the house's back door. You
hears footsteps in the hallway between Uche's room and that of Nassun,
your daughter.
(Nassun, your daughter.)
The footsteps reach the den and stop. "Essun?"
You know this voice. Young, male. Familiar, and soothing in a
familiar way. Lerna, Makenba's boy from down the road, who went away for
a few years and came back a doctor. He's not a boy anymore, hasn't been
for a while, so you remind yourself again to start thinking of him as a
Oops, thinking. Carefully, you stop.

No lines are longer than 80 characters, TYVM. Other specified properties aren't being scored automatically at this time so this is not necessarily good news...