What Do I Miss?   6 comments

June 14, 2021

Write a top 10 list in the voice of a character. Is your character a tween writing in their diary? A person making a bucket list? How about someone listing their greatest fears? What does the list they make say about the character?

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The Setting & Purpose

Cai Delaney, the 30-year-old brother of Shane Delaney, an attorney and member of the Emmaus Civil Patrol, is writing it in the days before the end of Winter’s Reckoning, during a fierce blizzard when there was nothing to do but stock the fire and watch the snow fall outside the living room windows.

The town of Emmaus is cut off from the world by the bombs that destroyed life as they knew it. Now three months after the events in the first book in the series, there’s no television, no electricity, no central heating, no laundry, now hot water, limited groceries, and no communication with the outside world. The Delaney family is doing whatever they can to keep from going stir crazy, hoping against hope that they’ll survive to spring, when presumably things will get better. Gathered in the dining room with Cai are Jill Delaney, Click Michaels, Alicia Sanchez, Marnie Delaney, Shane Delaney, Alex Lufgren and Keri Delaney Lufgren. It was Alex’s turn to pick the game and topic. The Lufgrens are visiting (Keri is Cai & Shane’s sister and Jill’s daughter). Rob Delaney and Jazz Tully (household members) are on patrol. Shane, who was injured in the course of Winter’s Reckoning, was asleep in the living room, which is really the only warm room in the house with horizontal surfaces.

And, since Cai was shot at the end of A Death in Jericho, this list might be the last thing he ever writes. I make no promises whether he lives or dies.

Top 10 Things I Miss About the Old World

  1. Lazy Saturday Mornings hanging out in bed with Marnie, walking to downtown for croissants and coffee.

Cai and Marnie, newly-weds, have been insanely busy since the start of the apocalypse and the town hasn’t seen croissants or coffee in months. Cai is helping to keep the town going and Marnie is the only remaining town physician. They are doing what they must and are glad to do it, but Cai misses simpler times and the ordinary things of those days are now unattainable luxuries.

2. Baseball Games in the town stadium when most of the town is gathered and the summer afternoon hangs low.

It’s winter and without central heating, nobody ever feels really warm. So naturally, he’s dreaming of muggy summer afternoons. And, baseball — which plays in the background of sports discussions of this family.

3. Major League Baseball games in Kansas City or Denver.

Kansas City and Denver no longer exist. It’s possible major league baseball died with the United States of America. It’s normal to mourn the loss what used to be ordinary times.

4. Fishing at Jusilla’s Pond with Grandpa Jacob.

Jusilla’s Pond is still just down the road, but Jacob, the patriarch of the Delaney family, died in Gathering In. His grandson is missing him and probably concerned that Jusilla’s is getting pretty fished-out as going hungry is now one of the primary activities of the townspeople.

5. Ice cream on a hot summer’s night after a raucus song service at the church.

Church is important to the Delaneys, as is music. The church is still standing, but most people don’t have the energy for singing right now and it’s the coldest part of winter. And without electricity, who knows when they’ll see ice cream again.

6. The Walking Dead. Scratch that. I don’t like apocalyptic plots anymore now that I’m living one.

That should be self explanatory. Although Transformation Project is currently zombie-free, you never know what the capricious deity of their universe might throw at them. Cai misses things like television, but he’s afraid if he entertains zombies, they might materialize.

7. The feeling of my skin after a good long, hot shower.

They’re currently taking shared baths in inches of water heated on the coal stove. If you’ve ever been camping, when you get back to running water — showers are glorious, right? Well, imagine that feeling if you’d been three months without a shower.

8. The smell of freshly laundered clothes.

All the electronics that run washers and dryers fried in the EMP and without electricity…. When I was a kid, we lived in a no-water cabin in Anderson and trust me, the smell of freshly laundered clothes after months of handing clothes to air-out is indescribably beautiful.

9. Having access to the world through my smart phone.

Self-explanator. Cai was valedictorian of his high school class and graduated #4 and #11 from University of Kansas and law school. He loves knowledge and chafes under the restrictions of being limited to a physical book library.

10. A summer rain shower. Scratch that. After the nuclear fall-out, not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable in the rain again.


Nostalgia, the stuff of younger years, and warmth capture his thoughts. An extremely smart, family-oriented guy, Cai’s thoughts are on those around him, but also on knowing what’s going on outside the “bubble” of their community. The last we see of him in the published books he is lying on the cold snow surrounded by a pool of blood.

6 responses to “What Do I Miss?

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  1. I can feel semi-clean with a sponge bath, but washing my hair is a real luxury!


    • Lots of people here still live without running water. It’s a lot cheaper. You can rent a house without water for half of what you can rent a house that’s plumbed and the water is often so mineral, it’s not worth the cost. But these days, that’s easily overcome — you just join a gym and work out every morning — or you could work for my employer. We have a shower on site.

      I have curly hair, so I can go about a week between shampoos (like when we do one of our longer hikes or fish in Chitina). We usually take baby wipes with us for sponge baths. But after about a week, I NEED a long HOT bath and a shampoo.


  2. I think a lot of us can relate to a world that has gone forever. It might be as apocalyptic but the last year has shown us that there is a new normal waiting. If we can only accept it, instead of fighting to get back to what we had, it could be just as good. In a different way.


    • I don’t know about that. Here in the States, the new normal is large portions of the population sitting on their rump ends collecting government benefits while those of us who are still employed watch our retirement accounts become worthless because of government-driven inflation. That’s not a new normal that is sustainable long-term.


  3. Oops!!! Please insert the word NOT before “be apocalyptic!!!!”


  4. Ah, nostalgia. It’s always good to wander back…


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