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Memoirs From the End of the World
Only one sip of the unidentified alcohol followed before R.C. started to clean out the cut on Alyx’s cheek. He winced as she worked, but he bit his lip to keep the pain on the inside. “You’re going to have a scar no matter what I do with this,” she commented.
“Scars don’t bother me,” Alyx replied.
“I should stitch it up to prevent infection,” she continued, though it pained her to say it. Dealing with Ollie was bad enough. For some reason, though, she really didn’t want to hurt Alyx.
“Do what you have to.” Then he took one long swig from the bottle and sighed. “I could hold a lot of grudges against a lot of people if I wanted to. It wouldn’t make sense for me to hold this against you after everything else you’ve done to help me.”
Curiosity flared in R.C.’s mind, but she also noted how he looked nervously ahead, and the way he clenched his hands together in his lap. Whatever weighed on his mind at that moment clearly embarrassed him, and he had no reason to share such personal details of his life with her. After all, they’d only just met.
“We all have our demons,” she said as she peered out the window. It was approaching dusk. She had to finish fixing Alyx up before they lost daylight.
She went to collect a fresh needle from the bag, and after sterilizing it with the medicinal alcohol, threaded it. As she seated herself beside him again, he looked at her. “I think I have more demons than your average person.” He took a small drink. “I wasn’t even supposed to be here. My birth parents gave me up for adoption. I don’t know anything about them, other than that they lived out of state. If they’d kept me, I’d probably be living a relatively normal life outside the reservation.”
R.C. paused. Though Ollie and Alyx were built completely differently, she’d never questioned their relation. Given the way Alyx protected his brother . . .
“Don’t get me wrong,” he continued. “I love my parents. The ones who raised me, I mean. This is the only family I’ve ever known. It just hurts to know that I was tossed away like I meant nothing.”
The sadness saturated his words, and she found herself being pulled into the conversation. “I’m sure they had their reasons. It must be hard not knowing.”
Alyx’s cheeks flushed, and he visibly hesitated. “I actually know what the reason was. That’s half the problem.”
R.C. was stunned. Did she dare ask?
Those few moments of silence saw the window of opportunity close as Alyx shook his head. “Nevermind. There’s no sense in worrying about it. Let’s just get this over with.”
Grateful for the distraction, R.C. carefully mended the wound. While he dug his fingers into his knees so hard he had to be close to drawing blood, he never actually made any sound to indicate his discomfort.
Soon it was all over, and R.C. set the supplies aside. Rattled by all the events of the day, she took the bottle and sipped at the fiery liquid. The warmth started to settle into her bones, and the chill of the bridge seemed to be long gone. Exhaustion hung from her muscles like tethers that threatened to bind her to the floor. Her eyelids sagged. “I’m so tired,” she mumbled. “How did you trust me to fix you up?”
When there was no response, she looked over to see that Alyx had drifted off, his back still pressed against the hard plaster wall, his head resting on one shoulder. She sighed. Part of her was relieved for the excuse for the day to be over. Another part, though this part was hardly more than a whisper amidst the fatigue, lingered over their aborted discussion. The curiosity wouldn’t let go. What did he know about his adoption that bothered him so much? Why had he brought this up with her, whom he barely knew, only to abruptly change the subject? And why in the world did she care?
Shrugging it off, she went to the closet where her grandmother kept the clean blankets. Sure enough, they were still stacked there on the shelf, as if waiting for her return. Now they’d collected dust. A quick shake rid them of the worst of it, though the faint odor of disuse clung to the fibers.
R.C. tucked a blanket around Alyx while he slept on, oblivious to her attention. Then she curled up on the couch with her own blanket, and within moments, sleep had claimed her.
When everyone woke the following morning, the day had a much different feel. The openness that Alyx evidently felt when he started to confide in her was obliterated by a good night of rest. He only seemed concerned about gathering more food, and he insisted on going by himself. “I’m useless to them, so why in the world should you risk yourself?” he demanded when R.C. tried to follow him out the door.
Irritated by the abandonment, she spent the following hours shuffling about the house, examining every cabinet for things that could prove useful. Ollie helped where he could, but he was still too sore to do much. And she didn’t mind his company, though at one point she saw evidence that one part of Ollie liked her more than it should have.
What’s he thinking? I’m not avoiding the meat locker just to get mixed up with him. I can’t risk becoming a baby factory out here.
Each day for the next week went the same way. Alyx foraged, and R.C. went stir crazy. Ollie kept eyeing her, but much to her relief, he did nothing beyond that.
Then one day, as if the issues amongst the three of them weren’t enough, Alyx came home with a couple of strange children in tow.
Go To Entry #11
Go To Entry #11