It's Friday and time for another installment in this post-apocalyptic tale. For those who haven't read previous entries, you can find the story in its entirety on this PAGE.
I hope you enjoy!
Memoirs From the End of the World
I’m an idiot.
Ollie’s been snippy since he saw me with Alyx. Ollie never made a move on me, though I think he wanted to. He insisted on going scavenging with Alyx every day, even though we’d been happily alternating before that. Alyx didn’t seem to like the new reality either, but he didn’t argue about it. With everything else we had to worry about, he wanted to keep the peace.
Meanwhile, my feelings were growing. When I saw Alyx, my heart beat so fast I felt like I’d run a mile. I made excuses to be in the same room with him, and though Alyx was trying to avoid conflict with his brother, he wasn’t turning me away. Today Ollie and both kids fell asleep during the late afternoon, leaving me alone with Alyx. We worked together in the kitchen to organize the evening meal, and I found myself enjoying the privacy. It actually gave us a chance to talk.
“It’s been awkward around here the last few days,” I found myself saying. Part of me wondered why I even said this. After all, this would undoubtedly dredge up topics that I didn’t even feel comfortable talking about.
“Yeah, it has been.” Alyx sighed. “Ollie’s been as lonely as the rest of us, and he assumed a lot when he saw us that morning.”
This didn’t surprise me. “Look, I’m sorry Ollie’s upset about it, but it was nice talking to you. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that comfortable opening up to anyone.” It’s funny that while I talked about this comfort, I couldn’t quite look him in the eye.
“It was nice for me too,” he admitted. “Sometimes it seems like friends are one of the few good things we can have in this world.” He shook his head. “I won’t lie. I haven’t had that many close friends. I never quite fit in growing up.”
I put my hand on top of his as he reached for a can of soup. He stopped to look at me, and I forced myself to hold his gaze. “None of that matters now,” I told him. “What matters is that we’re alive, and you’re my friend. I care about you. I don’t like that it makes anyone else uncomfortable, but nothing is going to change it.”
“That must make you feel good about yourself.” Ollie’s angry voice took us both by surprise. He was awake, and he was pissed. His cheeks were flushed in spite of the cold that had pierced the house.
“Ollie, please . . .” Alyx started.
He shook his head. “No. You promised me it wasn’t like that.”
“How is it any of your business anyway?” I demanded. The fact Ollie felt like he had the right to butt in made me so angry I could have kicked him.
“Stay out of this!” Ollie snapped, even though I was clearly part of the mix as it was. “Alyx, you know it’s a bad idea for you to do this. No woman is going to be satisfied by what you have to offer them!”
This floored me. How could he say this about his own brother? Was he saying this out of jealousy, or was it something else? “Leave him alone! What could make you say something so horrible?”
Ollie laughed. “He obviously hasn’t told you. Let’s just say he isn’t man enough, and the fact that he hasn’t told you only proves it.”
I immediately connected his accusations with the day I first met Alyx. He told me then that he was sterile, and while many would have equated that with a lack of manliness, it was a bonus for me. If I was going to be with anyone, I couldn’t risk a pregnancy. Not in this world.
Either way, Alyx’s cheeks turned bright red, and he immediately fled the room. I glared at Ollie, who simply turned and walked out too. I kept working to get dinner ready, even though I wasn’t hungry. Sheera and Peter would need food when they too woke up.
Alyx never came back for his food. After everyone went their separate ways for the evening, I lit a candle and searched the house. I found Alyx sitting alone in my grandmother’s walk-in closet. I sat next to him, and I noticed the way the candle’s flame lit his face. He looked tired, withdrawn. “Ollie’s wrong, you know,” I told him softly. “You have plenty to offer.”
He shook his head. “You shouldn’t be talking like that, because he’s right. Ollie’s been upset, convinced that you feel a certain way about me. I told him that was ridiculous. How could I stand a chance when there’s someone like Ollie around?”
This stunned me. “Why is it ridiculous? With the world the way it is now, the rules have changed. You’re brave and dependable. That first night, you walked out and faced that patrol even though they could have killed you. I saw them point their guns at you, and you didn’t waver. You have more to offer than you know.” I leaned over and kissed his cheek. The wound I’d stitched for him was much better now, though it was still rough against my skin.
Alyx turned to look at me, and the world seemed to stop in that moment. Then, without warning, his lips were pressed against mine. The kiss was warm, gentle, and drove my heart rate through the roof. I ran a hand through his hair as I tried to savor every nuance of my first real kiss. I wanted it to last all night.
And, as quickly as it started, it was over. Alyx pulled away, panting. “I’m sorry, Rose,” he said. His voice was panicked. “I can’t do this.” He scrambled to his feet and was gone before I could say anything.
Now everything is going to be more awkward than before. I overcomplicated everything. That’s why I’m an idiot.
Go to Entry #16
Go to Entry #16