If someone had told me back when I twenty, that I'd become what I am today... I don't think I'd believe it. But, the truth laid before me, in every person's eyes, in the bleakness of the landscape. I don't know what drove me to take charge.... at the age of 24, with no real life experience beyond mistakes in college and some hours of work in the later years of high school, it seems unbelievable that anyone would follow my direction. And it's true that I'm afraid of more fights, of loosing more of my people, of dying- surviving a nuclear disaster did not give me an ego, believe me. The less these people know about me, the better. To some, I'm hope. I can't fathom why, but I feel obligated to uphold that. I've become their Mother, and they've become my family. Still, I'm guarded and tense. I never show much of my face, especially when meeting with other groups; I drink small amounts of poison in my drinks, to get a tolerance to them; I worry and pour over my plans and what might happen while I sleep at night- which might be a cause for the insomnia that affects me from time to time; In my nightmares, its Father's face I see, his cold and unrelenting demands for my faction to join his have not been ignored. It is not that he is cruel towards me, but its the way he works which lets me know his views. We are at a bit of an impasse at the moment- he refuses to aid my people, or lend a hand in any situation. Not that I had asked, or thought to- though when he had announced that- I had repeatedly questioned his actions, only met with a tired and cold gaze, the answer was already there, in plain sight. He wanted me to concede. I'm just twenty-four years old, and yet... I'm one of three rulers in a dystopia of what used to be the United States... I'm advised by a council- Father is as well, something to help keep the peace- which is made up some that are older than me, and some closer to my age. I try to heed their ideas and implement their suggestions. I've worried since I made this faction, and found that there was another... I've worried about my people under Father's command. So far, it's an uneasy alliance... perhaps it can not even be called that. He sometimes gives off the air of a father ignoring a petulant child- he's waiting for me to relent. Always waiting. I know I can't compare to his style of leadership, and perhaps I am not seen as a worthwhile leader in his eyes- but I care about my people. My home is an incomplete structure of a giant house, in which all my people cram into. It's a little more than cozy, but each day, a little more is built, and more space is gained. I go, every day, to a certain wing of this house, where people can come to me and talk, ask for help, or give ideas. .... There's a meeting with Father today and both of our councils sit-in on these discussions, so they are not far away from us if we should need guidance or advice. I dread these meetings, but I have something to bring to the table, that I know he wants... and perhaps I could put it out there, once more, that there is nothing wrong with being two separate groups. I have fuel. He needs that- perhaps that will soften his actions and words today. But, that is later today. The sun is rising and the mass is starting to wake as I take from the store of grain alcohol, and, out of my sleeve comes a tightly-capped small vial of black liquid. I drip only two drops into the drink- only moved up to two recently- and took a sip. The poison added a nutty and acrid taste, though it was only a hint. Deciding that the concoction was well enough, I added a dash of juice, which had been freshly made- thanks to the gardens. This made the drink a little easier to stomach, though I couldn't set my mind at ease. Among my agenda today, there needs to be a moment to talk to my council before that meeting with the Father- always good with advice, I go to them before every meeting, needing their ideas. Perhaps I depend on them too much. There's also the fact that I need to have a group go out and explore the lands again- search for more fuel, and salvageable parts of machinery, perhaps also more materials for my housing. Also, perhaps searching for more survivors- there haven't been any found lately, most have already chosen their sides, but it never hurts to check everything, just in case. There won't be any time to meet with my people personally today- I'll stay a little longer for tomorrow, perhaps to make up for it. I take another sip, and wince at the aftertaste, then rummage around for food- grabbing a small bun that had been made the night before. I walk out of the house, into the soft colors of the rising sun- lighting up this trashed and grey world. I wonder if the Father was looking into this same view.... I nibbled a bit at the bun while going back inside, back to my wing, and getting dressed- a light blue shawl was what I thought would be nice for today, so shrouded my face in it; a white dress with some patches of blue that went down to my ankles, and donned some sandals. It wasn't that I was modest, as much as it was, wanting to remain unknown beyond being "Mother". I didn't want it to be evident that I was twenty-four to those who weren't my family. I finished off the outfit by fitting a silver circlet on my head, the band tightly held to the fabric of the shawl- hanging above my brows, from the circlet was a namaste symbol- something I had seen in college and learned about. 'I bow to you' was one of the loosely translated meanings, and the etymology of the phrase had seemed peaceful to her. Perhaps that peace would influence that meeting... Fully dressed and sating myself on food and drink, I felt ready for the day.