It’s been two months, three weeks and four days since I left my house. Once a week, a large white truck drives by and delivers provisions to our doorsteps. A large green truck follows and takes away our trash. We’re only allowed outside to put out our old bins and pick up the new ones. We can only go as far as our doorsteps. Today is Tuesday. Everyone is at their windows trying to glean some information, any information, as to what’s going on out there.
When we still had phones, Samantha said that as long as the trucks still come, it can’t be all that bad out there. We don’t have phones anymore, but we still talk to each other through the grapevine, a makeshift telephone connected from house to house. The hardest part was stringing it across the street. The first time, we didn’t take the height of the trucks into account and the white truck ran right through it like a marathon runner at a finish line.
Every Tuesday, you can see curtains parted and worried faces behind windows. Maybe they won’t come, the message goes from house to house. Every Tuesday, we listen for the rumbling of the trucks. They’re coming, says a new message. So far, they’ve always come.
The first red truck we saw came to Owen’s house across the street. They backed the truck up on the lawn right against the front door, so we couldn’t see what was happening. Tina, next door to Owen, told us that they carried something large out of the house and put it in the truck. The truck was there for twenty-three minutes, then it drove away. After that, the white and green trucks didn’t stop at Owen’s anymore.
The trucks are at the end of the block. I wait for them to stop in front of my house. The code book says we’re not allowed to open the door until they’re at the next house. I watch through the peephole as men in orange containment suits bring a new bin. At first, I was afraid that they’d catch me watching, which is against the rules, but the containment suits never look up. They keep their heads down, eyes only on what they’re carrying or where they’re going.
The orange suits walk away, the white truck moves next door, but I still can’t go out yet. I have to wait for the green truck to pick up my old bin. Yellow containment suits repeat much the same process as the orange. The green truck moves on to Steve’s house and I know that it’s safe for me to collect the new bin.
Since it’s the only time we can go outside, it’s natural to want to stay out there as long as we can, but we’re not allowed. Behind the white and green trucks is the black cruiser making sure that we only stay out as long as it takes to collect our bins.
I go out to grab my bin and exchange a look with Tina across the street. She gestures to her right. I’m not sure what she means. I stand there for a little too long and the black cruiser shines a warning light in my eyes. I go back inside with my bin.
From the window, I look to where Tina was gesturing, but I can’t see a thing. I check the grapevine. The red truck is on my side of the street. Three doors down, Carla’s house. I pass it on. Eighteen minutes later, I see the red truck drive by.
I check my bin. It’s the same every week: seven MRE kits containing twenty-one entrées, fourteen cracker packets, seven side dishes, seven desserts, seven electrolyte powder packets, seven instant coffee packets, jam, peanut butter and cheese packets, condiments, flameless ration heaters, one roll of toilet paper, ten bottles of water and a notice on top.