South Bronx, NY

Rivka tried three different grocery stores in the course of a weekend but shelves were mostly bare. A vicious fight broke out when a man reached into the overflowing cart of another and took several boxes of cereal.

            “You don’t need all this,” the man yelled, with an armload of Cheerios. “You’re selfish. The rest of us got nothing.”

            The other man landed a punch with a sickening thud and sent the cereal boxes cartwheeling on their corners.

            The city’s supply chain couldn’t keep up with so much stockpiling. Rivka had to tap into her fancy camping food after she finished everything in her fridge. She opened a salty mix called “Gorp” and stood by her window listening to the rumble of private helicopters. The New York Times reported that the First Lady and her son had already lifted off. Rivka imagined all the upcoming renovations to Camp David’s bomb shelter: crystal chandeliers, gold lacquer walls and enough ostentatious wealth to give the Vatican a run for its money. She fumed and picked out the tastier chocolate M&Ms and dried fruit, leaving the nuts and granola in the bag because Love was wasn’t around to yell at her.

            Rivka felt abandoned as New York’s rich and powerful made their way to summer cottages in the Berkshires and Catskills, beachfront property at the Hamptons, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard; seemingly safer places with better access to local farms. The modern world had always fled to the cities but now there was a reverse course back to rural fields. The Midwestern states sealed off access to their borders through major highways. News coverage had aerial images of grid-locked traffic and abandoned automobiles. The governor of Indiana was rumored to have said, “Flyover Country needs to take care of her own.”

The streets in Rivka’s neighborhood remained functional but delivery trucks had no entry access through the city’s outer limits, if they were even trying to operate business as usual—and that was a big if. Grocery stores in a fifteen-block radius were empty and locked. There was no one to ask when there might be food again, which was an answer in itself.