The next morning, Skye knelt on the hard ground by what she liked to call the 'mini-greenhouses'. Although she hadn't been much of a gardener before moving up here, with some reading and Wade's guidance, she had a nice little garden growing, even though the weather was now cold most days.
She lifted the lid on one of the greenhouses, checked on the progress of some of the vegetables and tried to decide what to use for dinner. To Skye's surprise, Sue Ellen walked over and plopped herself down beside her.
"What are ya doin'?" the girl asked as she blew one of her curls out of her eye. It had fallen out of the top knot that held the rest of her hair.
Skye sent her a welcoming smile and pushed some of her own dark hair out of her face. "Figuring out what looks good to have for dinner. We have a bit of a choice. Onions, spinach, kale, peas or carrots. What sounds good to you?"
"Carrots. That's what I'd like."
"Okay. Sounds good to me. How about a stew? We can use some onions, and a bit of garlic, for it. I just wish I could scrounge up some potatoes."
"I think that old lady across the way was talkin' about having some potatoes."
Skye looked in the direction Sue Ellen had nodded. "You mean Mrs. Gilmore?" When Sue Ellen agreed, Skye murmured, "Umm, I wonder if she'd be interested in trading me some for something I have here."
"Maybe." Sue Ellen tipped her head. "You know what you otta do? You should start a little barterin' place, like a swap meet. Then everyone would have one place to trade at instead of roamin' all over the neighborhood."
Skye's eyes lit up as she hauled in a quick breath. Right now, people went from cabin to cabin if they needed something. If they could set up some sort of mutual spot, it would be so much easier. "Sue Ellen! That's a great idea. I guess it took some fresh eyes to see what we were missing."
Sue Ellen looked at Skye then at the ground. A bit of color rushed to her face as she said, "I could help out some."
Skye's heart warmed with Sue Ellen's first real offer of, well, anything. She reached out and brushed the girl's arm. "Of course, you could. It's your idea!"
Skye frowned as she started to think about the details. "Where could it be held? I wonder if we could use—"
"The courthouse!" Sue Ellen broke in.
"Just what I was thinking. I mean, hopefully, it won't be used for a lot of court cases. It would be nice to use it for something, I don't know, happy."
Skye rose and brushed the dirt from her knees. "Let's take these into the kitchen, then go see if Mrs. Gilmore will trade some potatoes. And we'll ask her what she thinks of a swap meet. I bet she'll love it."
Sue Ellen didn't move but sat staring at the garden. Skye hoped she wouldn't suddenly turn sullen as was so often the case. "She'll love the idea, and I can't very well take it over there like it's something I came up with. You should come with me."
After a tense moment, Sue Ellen said, "Okay, sure. Why not?" The girl was quiet for most of the walk but then surprised Skye. "I want a music player like you have."
"Oh, okay." Skye berated herself for forgetting what was important to teenagers. "You know, Sue Ellen, I'm sorry. With everything the way it is, I kinda forget about some things. You can borrow mine whenever you'd like."
"No. I want my own. I've always wanted one but Grandma said no. Probably cause it was too expensive. But now they're not, right? Now maybe we could trade for one."
Skye agreed. She thought this may be a good opportunity to get Sue Ellen involved in the community. Since she'd been here she tended to stay to herself, if she wasn't with Jesse. If anyone dared to disturb her, she'd often sent them a sulky glare and a few curt words. Skye figured this may just be what Sue Ellen needed.
"How about this? If you can see your way to helping me get this thing started, it'll be the first thing we trade for. Is that a deal?"
Sue Ellen's eye lit up. "It's a deal."
Skye could smell the aroma of freshly baked bread even before they stepped foot in Mrs. Gilmore's yard. A spry grandmother, Mrs. Gilmore lived with her daughter and thirteen-year-old grandson. They were all that was left of her large family of over forty people. The three of them were part of the group that had moved up here from Colton with Tom and Tricia.
Hearing the crack of an ax against wood as she crossed the yard, Skye looked over at the other cabin that shared the little glen. A stout woman Skye guessed to be in her forties stood in front of the chopping block waving at the two of them. Skye waved back and smiled, unsure of who the woman was.
"Do you know her?" Skye asked Sue Ellen.
"How would I know her?" Sue Ellen groused at her. "I just been here a few weeks."
Skye controlled her irritation. And she's back. "I don't remember seeing her before."
Sue Ellen shrugged, unwilling to add anything else to the conversation.
When they reached her door, Mrs. Gilmore opened it wide, tickled pink to be receiving visitors. She gave Sue Ellen a big, grandmotherly hug and then cupped her face and told her how beautiful she was. Skye was surprised and happy to see the girl soak it all in.
Before Skye could get a word in about the potatoes, Sue Ellen was explaining all about her idea for a swap meet. Mrs. Gilmore acted as though it was the best idea since sliced bread, and said as much too. Skye wholeheartedly agreed.
"You know," Skye said putting an arm around Sue Ellen's shoulders, "we shouldn't just call it a swap meet, we should name it. We should call it, Sue Ellen's Exchange. What do you think?"
Sue Ellen's blue eye grew rounder than usual. "Really? My name?"
"It sounds like a wonderful name to me," Mrs. Gilmore said. "It's your idea after all."
Skye was pleased to find out that Mrs. Gilmore did indeed have extra potatoes which she would love to exchange for some onions and garlic. As they were loading up her bag, Skye saw the neighbor lady aiming up another log and asked Mrs. Gilmore about her.
"Oh, she's a new one, Annette her name is," Mrs. Gilmore said, "Says she was passin' though Colton and the deputy on duty down there sent her up here. Been here about a week or so. Seems nice enough, but I haven't had a chance to talk to her all that much."
Mrs. Gilmore peered out the window at the woman. "Don't know why she's doin' all that choppin', she's got a man in there. Wonder if he's feeling under the weather."
Skye shivered, it was an automatic reaction now anytime she heard of anyone ill. She knew it was irrational, people still got colds and other types of flu all the time. Still, when she walked out of Mrs. Gilmore's yard and saw a man come out of Annette's cabin, she blew out a relieved sigh.
A/N: Sanctuary has reached over 102,000 reads! I can't thank all of you enough!!
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#47 in Action/Adventure, #6 in post-apocalyptic. This sci-fi post-apocalyptic survival story continues with Skye and Dylan hope to enjoy the calm of Cole's Mountain. The community builds homes, plant, and tentatively rejoice that the worse is over u...