January 14th 20XX +1
My Dear Lucilius:
I had a pleasant long chat with young Xerxes this morning.
He seems to have become the self-appointed village gossip (apparently such things are in again), seeming to have information on virtually every household that remains in our little burg now (6 deaths, 2 births, and a reduction the households to 40, in case you were wondering). Most people, I gather, are holding out – which is not surprising, considering – with the exception of the loss of electricity – people around these parts are used to being stuck at home for days at a time.
You will remember the young woman that knocked on my door in July and invited me out? It turns out that she and Young Xerxes are an “item”, as I believe it was called once upon a time. Apparently they had divided our town; I was in her section, he was on the other side of town. I would call it “luck”, but in point of fact with so few homes around, it is just a matter of statistics.
There is talk, he says, of the Spring.
The Spring – it worries us all. The coming of Spring here typically meant the coming of days of no snow, of the verdure of the growing grass, and at some level the inevitable rush of tourists coming through our town, headed somewhere else. This year, however, Spring has a far worse connotations. The roads will clear, and no-one is sure what will come with clear roads.
The radio that I have has long gone silent, the commercial stations and even the emergency broadcasting system long gone dormant. From what Xerxes related, there are still ham radio operators which are broadcasting and by whom we can get some kind of update, if spotty and localized. Their news, unfortunately, is not good but not unexpected: the cities for the most part sound as if they are wrecks and ungovernable. The collapse of the distribution system has meant not only that supplies could not be shipped to them, but that farmers that would get acres and acres of crops into the ground are getting a few at best, as there is neither fuel nor market to support them.
The only comfort – if it is to be a comfort – is that from the shortwave connections, literally everywhere is the same as here. When distribution and the economy stopped, it stopped everywhere.
Before he left, young Xerxes asked if there was anything I wanted or needed. Coffee, I replied – I miss having my coffee in the morning. He laughed and said he agreed, and would see if he could find some in the midst of the Winter. I offered up 3 lbs of honey (and 1 lb to him) if he could make it happen.
Even the midst of despair, some will find a way.
Your Obedient Servant, Seneca