ELEMENT: Chapter 10 (3)
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cousin Sanford, Aunt Wora and Uncle Had moved to Spokane about two years before the disaster, so they’ve been there for five years. He used to live a few blocks from us, but our Aunt and Uncle decided they were too close to civilization, so they moved northeast of Spokane, onto a piece of property they made self-contained and off the grid. Our parents had actually considered moving there with them, but “The pull of the ocean is too strong to resist for some people,” as my mom said.

The area was desolate before the nuclear disaster hit, and it still is. Rolling hills covered with sage, dry grass, and bare rock stretch to the horizon. Scrubby juniper juts up from the moon-like surface, a dark contrast to the skiffs of dirty white snow surrounding their trunks.

I look around as we dri...

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