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What Was Lost by Keith Kitchen
SUMMARY: When Jenna and Jonnat uncovered a piece of outlawed tech in the woods, they set events in motion that no one could stop.
The two children stole into the cave, glancing furtively over their shoulders. They knew they shouldn't be there, but it was their place. If they didn't stay too long, they wouldn't be missed and if they weren't missed, they wouldn't get in trouble. In their minds, it was time to play, no matter what their mother wanted.
They were filthy, but didn't realize it. It would have been nearly impossible to distinguish that one was a boy and the other a girl. Both had long, matted, lice-infested hair, as dirty as the rest of their bodies. They didn't notice the dirt or the lice. They were a part of life. They were clothed in little more than dirty rags, patched so often that they more resembled quilts than true clothes.
Jonnat was ten years old and Jenna nine. They were the only children their age in their village. There were one or two older and several much younger, but they were the only ones their age group to survive. The rest had either been killed by bears or mountain lions, died from one sickness or another or had disappeared, taken either by some unknown creature or stolen by some stranger.
The cave wasn't much more than a large hole in the side of the mountain, but it did go back twenty feet or more. The two had discovered it a fourseason ago while playing and they had been visiting whenever possible ever since. Of course, they hadn't tried coming up in the winter because they knew a bear could be using the cave and they could be tracked. A bear could only hurt or kill them, but being tracked could get them caught and that was far, far worse to them than dying.
They had toys in the cave, toys that were theirs alone. They were primitive, made by the two children, but toys nonetheless. They had sticks to dig with and this was where Jenna had found her most precious possession, Dolly. Dolly was a little toy girl she had dug up with sticks. Both Jenna and Jonnat had been amazed to find Dolly, but that confirmed that this was where they needed to stay to play. She never took Dolly home and never mentioned Dolly any more than the two of them would have mentioned their cave. Mother wouldn't approve and neither would anyone in their village. Anything that didn't pertain to survival was frowned upon.
It was the Sevenday, otherwise they would have been missed immediately. On Sevendays, they didn't have to go to the field as soon as they crawled from the crude mats they called beds. The Man had said the Word that morning. Only on Sevenday did the Man say the Word. They didn't understand why it took so long for the Man to say the Word and it wasn't just a word or the fact that it was the Word, because it was so many words and most of it was more than they could understand. Talk about God and Jeezus and how all of mankind had sinned against God and that's why God had sent angels to hurt mankind and that was why everybody, including Jonnat and Jenna, had to work so hard day and night so they could eat a little and fall onto their beds exhausted every night.
Jenna was playing with Dolly, taking Dolly's clothes off, simply because she could.