It's time for another Friday installment of RC's story. For those who've missed prior entries, you can find the entire story on this PAGE.
Memoirs From the End of the World
RC sat alone on the chilled porch of their current home. Not that she thought of it as home in any traditional sense. The fact that she shared this dwelling space with her fellow strays was about the closest to home she could manage.
This porch was a sorry sight to behold. Fully enclosed, it provided some shelter from the elements, as well as some kind of shield from the prying eyes of anyone who might happen by. The storm windows, cracked and filthy, drew attention to the structure’s disuse. Yet it also allowed enough light to spill through and onto Romero’s exposed pages. She balanced him in her lap, trying to drudge up the right words to express all that she was feeling.
The pen hovered over the page, motionless for many moments while RC tried to move beyond those perfunctory first words.
I won’t lie to you. I don’t want to go back there, though I understand why we have to do this. We go to bed a little hungrier each night. Maybe we are just in a bad patch of town, and maybe if we moved just a little in one direction, we’d stumble across a huge stockpile of food.
Unfortunately, with so many mouths to feed, we can’t take the chance of waiting and hoping.
She paused again, filled with shame about what she felt at that moment. Should she confess this unpleasant, spiteful thought as well? She did intend to be honest when she started writing in this diary, but putting words to paper meant someone could eventually see it.
Don’t be a coward, RC scolded herself. If you can’t be honest here, what’s the point of even writing in here in the first place?
If I were on my own right now, I’d be doing just fine in terms of food. I wouldn’t need to risk my life like this. It might be wrong, but there are times when these thoughts make me angry at the people around me. I almost resent them.
When I start to feel bitter, I remember that I was once so desperate for human contact that I named my diary. (Sorry Romero, you’ve been great, but you are, at the end of the day, incapable of responding to me.) I remember that I didn’t have anyone to watch my back. I didn’t have anyone to give me a much needed hug at the end of a long day.
Even with all the drawbacks to being part of a larger group, I know I can’t leave them. Isabel is living proof of how bad things could be, and yet she still managed to make a place for herself here. After a few weeks with us, she’s even started to smile and crack jokes. Her strength reminds me that I can also stay sane if I work at it.
Ollie’s been more pleasant too. Since recovering from his illness, he’s ceased making any kind of play for me. He even apologized for his bad behavior. I do wonder how much that apology has to do with Isabel’s arrival, though she certainly hasn’t expressed any romantic interest in him. Not that I know of, at least.
As for Alyx,
RC stopped abruptly. She nervously bit the end of the pen as she considered what the truth here might be. So much of their time together consisted of struggling to survive. They gathered, they cooked meals, they took the time to tend to the needs of the others. And yet, late at night after everyone else went to sleep, he was her greatest source of comfort. He’d put his arms around her and together they would fill the hours with personal stories and aspirations. RC didn’t feel comfortable talking about the future she feared she wouldn’t have with anyone else, but while alone with Alyx, it felt okay.
She pressed her pen to paper once more.
. . . I think I might love him. I’m not sure, because I’ve never felt anything like this before.
That’s part of why this mission is so scary for me. It’ll just be me, Alyx, and Ollie. (Isabel’s staying behind to look after the kids. She said right up front that she wouldn’t, under any circumstances, go back to that house. I honestly can’t blame her for that.) I know Alyx. He’ll do anything he can to protect both of us.
anything happens to him
No, I won’t think about that. I can’t think about that. If we’re going to do what we need to do to survive, I can’t worry about what might happen until it actually does happen.
“It’s almost time to go.”
RC looked up to see Alyx standing in the doorway. She admired his long dark hair, which he’d tied back in a ponytail. Everyone had long hair at this point, but she thought his hair, being so smooth and soft, was perfect the way it was.
“I know.” She quickly signed a quick farewell to Romero and shoved him into her backpack. Then she stood and looked at him for a long moment. The emotions she’d worked up with her fruitless worries tugged at her.
If anything happens to him . . . That infernal thought wouldn’t leave her mind. Before she could stop herself, she’d closed the distance between them and firmly pushed him against the frosty wall. She had to stand on her tiptoes to kiss him properly, because this wasn’t going to be any normal kiss. This kiss was fueled by all of her fears, desires, and doubts about the world, all rolled up into one feverish emotion she couldn’t quite identify. And soon he was returning the kiss with the same fervor, his arms pulling her tight against his body, a welcome warmth flooding through her.
When she pulled away, she felt slightly unsteady. Looking into his eyes, she whispered, “Just in case.”
Go to Entry #26
Go to Entry #26