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They don’t tell you what it’s going to be like when they sell you the giant cans of soup mix and the hand-cranked radios. We talked about what might be going on outside, keeping our voices down so that we didn’t scare the kids. We didn’t know if it was safe outside, we didn’t know exactly how much had collapsed.

The kids could tell something was wrong anyway. Emma wouldn’t stop crying no matter how much Ruth held her, and Micah screamed to go outside until I thought we would all be deaf. Joseph complained of headaches and wouldn’t stop hitting the others. Sariah talked to her dolls, but grew quiet when we spoke to her. I started to think that we couldn’t just stay here.

With even the radio out, our husband argued, there was every reason to believe most of humanity was dead. That the plague still raged, maybe even airborne…

In the end we took a vote. My sister-wives and I argued that the risk of dying was better than the risk of out­living the human race. He didn’t agree, and wearing him down was hard. In the end he conceded that one of us should go out first, and the rest would wait.

As the youngest wife, I was volunteered. It made sense, since I didn’t have any children yet, but there was still cold fear in my spine as I went to the door.

I stepped outside, and my husband slammed the door shut behind me. I didn’t know yet that I would never see them again.

Outside Antimony, Utah, March 2013

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