An Angry Flash – A World Changed
November 26th, 1997 (Thanksgiving)
1630 Revello Drive
Joyce Summers was busier than a one legged man in a potato sack race..Doing Thanksgiving for not only her parents, but three hungry teenagers and the school librarian and his date. He is a nice fellow, and he has been a real help with the turkey, plus all the extra groceries he brought over. Must have cost a bit, what with a war on.
As Joyce reached for the garlic powder to season the mashed potatoes, she reflected on just what the hell had been going on for the last two years. It had begun with a series of "border incidents" between the Soviets and the Chinese, which soon became a shooting war that saw the Soviets get engaged in a Manchurian quagmire, this of course, led the Soviets to go begging to their allies for more troops (Why that was, had Joyce scratching her head, didn't the Soviets have a rather large army? She would have to ask Xander about that.)
In any event, as Joyce slid the potatoes into the oven, and then started on the yams, slicing them absentmindedly, casualties mounted for the Soviets in China, as another offensive of theirs failed (With a China rearmed with American weapons), and many a Soviet boy, or one of their allies, wound up in a box, and discontent erupted throughout Eastern Europe, especially in East Germany. Demonstrations became riots, riots became a revolt, before long, the West Germans had unilaterally entered the fray on the side of their East German brothers.
It wasn't long before NATO got dragged in..or at least the portion that hadn't either dropped out entirely, like France, or balked at crossing the East German border (like the Dutch). The war had gone well for the United States, and her allies. NATO had driven into Poland, Warsaw was under siege, and the German army had entered Soviet territory. There had been use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe since June, but somehow, they hadn't nuked the planet to hell and gone. At least, not yet. Jobs were numerous, even with all the kids getting snapped up by the draft, and the way things looked, the Soviets were losing, and losing badly, perhaps they'd throw it in before Buffy's number got called sometime in the next year or two. God I hope so. Joyce shuddered at the thought. There had already been three kids in the neighborhood who had been killed "over there". Two in Europe, and one in Korea. None had been older than 24.
Joyce shook her head to banish the thought. Even with the casualties, things were, from an economic standpoint, going strong, with one commentator on CNN being heard to remark "its Rosie the Riveter 2, Electric Bugaloo out there." And it certainly was, Art wasn't selling for a variety of reasons, and the rent waited for no one. So, Joyce, like most people able to work, had taken a few shifts of war work down at the plant down the road that was churning out Bradleys. Buffy had done the same, she was learning welding of all things. My daughter the welder..who the hell would have thunk it?. She often came home late from the plant with her books in her work satchel, grimy in her overalls, with her goggles perched atop her head, but with a smile she had never seen on her face before. It was one of pride. And as far as Joyce was concerned, Buffy had earned it. Now if she would just pass her driving test…
As Joyce put the mized greens in a colander and began to wash them, she thought about Buffy's friends. Xander was working full time at the factory, he had dropped out of school, planning to enlist soon, saying he would go back when the war was over. He turned out to be a natural at war work, soon becoming a junior line supervisor and making enough money to move out on his own. Mr. Giles was helping Xander to become legally emancipated, and that was due to happen at any time. I hope so, that young man has suffered enough in my opinion. I do hope he makes it home. In any case, when Xander wasn't working, he was doing a part time stint with the California State Military Reserve, which was spending most of its time guarding local infrastructure that might be of interest to Soviet commandos, or helping to manage the spontaneous evacuation of Los Angeles, some 65 miles to the Southwest. Xander had told them all over lunch one day that it was "hellish, to say the least, people will do anything if they think they are going to get vaporized soon." He'd convinced Buffy to sign up as well, and the small paycheck from that had also gone to the "car fund".
As for Willow, that young lady had gotten a job at the plant doing part time work keeping the computerized assembly robots going. She was getting a lot of experience, and money, most of which Willow was responsibly tucking away for college, as far as Joyce was concerned, she wished Buffy would do the same, and not save up for some damn red convertible she was going to probably ding the heck out of a week after she got the keys.
Joyce soon turned to the stuffing bags, which she always doctored, using it right out of the bag is simply not done. Not in the Summers household! Joyce secretly rejoiced that that man, Angel, was out of Buffy's life. One day, not long after the war broke out, Buffy had come home crying. Angel had left for Europe, something about "salvaging things before it all went to hell", he had told Buffy. Joyce had never liked Angel, to tell the truth. And now that he had made her little girl cry? No, he was going to pay for that if she ever caught up with the jerk.
As she turned her attention to the bird of honor, she smiled. She'd managed to get a pretty good turkey this year, what with most of them being diverted for the troops, and a lot of the rail network being used to move soldiers and equipment to the ports. It seemed turkeys just came second this year. I dread what Christmas shopping is going to look like. There had not been a lot of rationing. The increase in scarcity due to the aforementioned transportation priorities, as well as a small measure of panic buying as each new wartime "milestone" was reached served to keep a lot of prices high and as such, supplies low for everything except for what people euphemistically called "preparedness items" and high volume staples.
She glanced over at Mr. Giles, he had proven to be an excellent mentor to Buffy and her friends, especially now. He had taken to heart the lessons of his parents, and grandparents from the years of the Blitz and had even taught Joyce how to "mend and make do." He was deftly making something he called "Yorkshire Pudding" and assured Joyce it "would be a hit with Buffy and her friends". He didn't always understand American teenagers..but he gamely tried, often with Jenny acting as a translator from "American teenage English" to "Queen's English". Giles had suffered loss, his nephew had been an RAF pilot and had been killed last year during a bombing mission. Giles had taken it badly, as he had loved playing the "beloved uncle" for that young man, and had wished a more scholarly career for the young man.
She continued to pre-baste the turkey as she stuffed it, grunting slightly from the exertion. Her parents had offered to help, but she didn't want them to. This is my thanksgiving, and Mom used to have half the neighborhood over. It's my turn. Joyce remembered those days, helping her mother in the kitchen, then sitting and watching her father and his friends smoke in the living room before dinner, and talk about the war, the last one. Is that what Buffy and her friends will do soon when this is all over, god willing they come home?
Joyce had never been much to pray. She had forgotten how, liberated 60s woman that she was, but she had rediscovered her Lutheran roots of late, plodding to the local Unitarian church. The priest didn't care, "God hears all prayers, my dear" the old priest had said. She had prayed for a quick end to the war, an end to the suffering..an end to all the death of so many young men.
But that was the thing about Sunnydale, one should be damn careful what they pray for, because even the best of intentions have a nasty habit of coming out with the worst of ends.