I’ve been very overwhelmed by life of late. It’s almost as if the little things have started to pileup so high they’re finally surrounding me. I feel…
I think my priorities are fucked. The things that should matter most today as I write this are the things that are not on my mind. I am bothered substantially by some shit Michelle said last night, and not by the strife and turmoil that has enveloped my people here. I think I’m being selfish again. I don’t know quite what to do, or where to start.
Our trip into the very edge of the city was a phenomenal success. No one was hurt, we got the supplies we so desperately needed, and we put down hundreds and hundreds of undead in the process. It could not be a more impressive victory on our part.
Our sick have stabilized and are now getting better. The IV fluids and medicine Ethan and Joel are pumping into them have returned them to life. They’re still in the clinic, under armed guard and constant medical care, but all signs as of today point that they are going to survive. Another clear victory on our part.
We’ve posted as heavy a guard as we could since we returned, and our long circuit home that led past the Factory hasn’t brought anyone back to our location. The security cameras there as well as the people there haven’t seen anyone following our tracks. We also ran back past MGR, so we had multiple places watching our trail. No one followed us, no undead seemed to have followed us, so once more it appears that we scored a victory.
We have held our ground on the morale issues. Alex is still very withdrawn and sad over the death of George. Poor guy must’ve been so in love, and seeing him mope around, lonely and alone is murderous. The same can be said for Martin. Martin’s sadness and his dedication to being a father to little Chester right now is heart breaking. The kid is torn up over his mom dying, and Martin is torn up over watching his son. On a selfish note, without Martin’s labor and how-to knowledge, there is a lot of shit that’s not being done right now. However, I just can’t get myself to the point where I ask him to get back to work. I just can’t ask him to put everyone else before his grief, and before his son.
Jeanette is struggling with the loss of her baby boy. There’s nothing I can say that’s more impactful than that.
I don’t even want to go into the other people right now. It’s just total crap.
Having said all that, after our return a few days ago we decided to have an event to celebrate our achievement, and mourn the loss of the dead. Basically we wanted a large gathering to give us a reason to eat, drink, and attempt to be merry.
It didn’t make much sense in a logistical way though. Food has been tight, and even with all my jokes that our food consumption “got better” from all our bad luck of late, we are still stretched a little thin. Having a party where we indulge and overeat and drink is stupid. However, trying to bring us all back together and a little happier is a bigger deal.
Michelle led the charge on this, and she did a great job. She decorated the cafeteria, organized everyone (even the sad and distraught), got the food and drink ready, and made sure everyone showed up on time and was as ready as they could be to have a good time. Michelle even somehow found the time to light a large candle for each of the dead. I don’t know where she found all those thick white pillar candles, but there was one for every person who died the other day. They were lined up on a table, off to the side, silently flickering, reminding everyone of why we were there last night, and why it was important to celebrate their lives, instead of just being sad, and hurt.
The shindig was… awkward. It felt forced, and a little contrived to me, but with so many ex military guys, it all starts to come together when the booze beer and wine sets in. Old Army stories come out, brothers in arms share tales of their boot camp woes, and then we get to this point where we all sit around quietly near each other, heads hung low, and start to really remember someone. You talk about how they laughed, how they cried, moments when they stood by you, no matter the danger or the stupidity, and you remember just how fucking much someone really means to you. Just because they’re dead doesn’t mean they don’t still mean something to you. It makes me realize how much I love my friend Kevin. Being with him at the party last night and reminiscing about old times, and listening to him talk with his crew about the death of Roger and Kyle made me realize how much I enjoyed our times in the Army together.
That’s neither here nor there. I’m still hung up on the real issue that’s bothering me.
A handful of us got completely plastered. You’ve probably gotten that much out of my disorganized ramblings.
I was just about three sheets to the wind when I caught Michelle’s eye from across the room. She was watching me talk to Kevin I think, and I raised a can of Canadian beer to her and nodded. Sort of a “tip my cap” to her moment. She’d done a decent job at getting this going. Immediately she started over towards us, and despite being pretty fucking drunk, I remember her being really tipsy as she crossed the floor with the music playing a little too loud. Kevin managed to stray away just as she showed up, and that left Michelle and I standing there, more than a little awkwardly.
She and I talked for a few drunken minutes about the party, and how bad things were, and how she hoped that this would bond everyone, and give us a collective “chance to mourn.” Which I should say she said in a very drunken, yet professional manner.
Somewhere after that, not too long after, but also not exactly the next thing, we managed to walk over to a side cafeteria table and sit down. Then she starts asking me “what my plan for myself” was. I can’t exactly… you know.. remember what I answered her, having a head swimming with booze at the time, but I remember going on and on about how I was worried about doing the wrong thing, and how I felt like I had “make things right” for all my mistakes and shit, and she sat there, staring at me intently. Then out of the blue she reaches up, gives me this… sweet and awkward caress on the cheek, leans in and gives me a kiss. It wasn’t quite on the cheek, nor was it on the mouth. It was… I don’t know. Affectionate and also innocent at the same time. I remember being totally shocked as she pulled away slowly, looking at me.
I can’t tell you a damn thing about the shit us guys talked about last night, but I will remember the words she said to me next until the day I am old and grey. Michelle sat there, hands in her lap, looking me dead in the eye, and starts talking without taking a pause.
“Adrian I was told by many that you and I would fall in love. They said we’d be together, and when we first met I thought about how wrong they were. You are rough, raw, vulgar. Your actions can be rash, and your heart sometimes makes you do the wrong thing. But now that I know you, I see you for who you are. I see the sweet man who wants to be there for those he cares for, and to protect anyone he can, despite how dangerous it might be to him. I have watched that man struggle with the weight of leading, and the crushing weight of his own guilt. Adrian I’ve talked to people about you and your story. I’ve heard how you hate yourself over what you did. How you hate yourself over leaving your girlfriend behind.”
Michelle stood up at that point, and caressed my cheek again, holding her warm palm against the cool skin of my face, “Adrian I’m falling in love with you. Not because of some prophecy, or just because God wants it that way, but because you are a tremendous man that I want to learn more about, and to be closer to. I see you for you the man you are, and the man you can become. But until you get closure on her, and until you forgive yourself fully for what happened with Cassie, there’s simply no room in your heart for anyone, let alone me.”
And she left.
I don’t even know what to do about this.