Evie was stood, stuttering at me. Then, she just slapped me.
"You want to know everything? The complete story?" She nodded at me. "Then go get Natalie. She deserves to hear this more than you do."
She hesitated at the door, looking at me. I could see the desperation in her eyes. I darted across the room to her, bundling her up into a hug. "It's going to be fine." I said with a commanding voice. She descended to the others.
I stood on the spot, screwing my face up. I couldn't do this. Not anymore. What the hell was I supposed to say to Natalie? What was I supposed to do?
"Start with a joke." Natalie said from the doorway. "That's what you always used to do."
I turned to see her face, aged by her tears. She looked so much like her sister that it hurt. She smiled weakly at me, having calmed down already; she had always been the one for the occasional moodswing.
"Why did the chicken cross the road?" I mumbled weakly. Her smile grew and that was the moment that I knew it was worth it. She deserved the truth. All of it. Even the bits I never wanted to tell.
"I don't know." Natalie chimed, playing along. Evie looked less impressed but still listened intently.
"To get to the other side." The words left my mouth even though I tried to stop them. They brought tears to my eyes. "Where should I start?"
"At the very beginning." Evie instructed.
"That's a very good place to start." I muttered, casting my mind back. "Then I suppose we need to go back to a time when the hills were alive with the sound of music as opposed to that of the walking dead."
"To get to the other side!" she yelled proudly. I laughed as I always did and thought that I always would. I knew that I'd do anything for Carrie. She was my best friend. Pretty much my only friend.
"That one never gets old." I whispered, standing up. I offered her my hand and pulled her to her feet. We had been sat on the grass verge outside my house, watching the sun slowly move across the sky.
"We not staying here?" she asked, looking at me in confusion. We would normally waste away the summer days just chatting there but I had known for a long time that that day would be so different.
"We're going for a walk." I informed her, leading the way. She dashed to catch up with me, hovering at my side.
"Where?" she asked like a little child desperate to know everything. I smiled at her and tapped my nose, knowing that she hated it when I did that.
"How many years have I known you for now?" I asked.
"Too many." We laughed. We threw gentle insults at each other as the walk continued until we found ourselves on the beach. I had been a relatively long walk but it was worth it to have the chance to sit there with Carrie and watch the sun set. "This is all rather romantic." She muttered suspiciously.
"Is it?" I feigned ignorance, running off.
"Have you set something up?" she called, following me.
I suddenly stopped and fell to the sand. She did the same, lying next to me. She turned her head to face me. "Why are we here?"
"Somewhere new." I whispered. We watched the sun fade away in silence. It was truly beautiful and magnificent; a sight that I knew I would never forget.
The darkness of the night filled the sky but we didn't notice. Her hand was in mine and her head balanced on my chest. I had just woken up and found her there, still asleep. I didn't move her until I had to. It was raining and we needed to find cover quickly; a storm was on the horizon and it was moving pretty quickly. We ran across the beach, heading to a little cave at the far edge.
We laughed at each other and, after telling our parents where we were, we sat in the cave and watched the droplet fall.
"The sky is crying." she said, reaching out for my hand. It always worried me when she said something haunting like that. "Archie, I have something to tell you."
"And I you." I replied quickly, my smile broadening. "But you go first."
She looked upset and scared. I pulled her into me, sharing my warmth with her. "I'm pregnant." she mumbled as tears started to appear out of the corner of her eyes.
"Oh Carrie!" I held her closer, dismissing my own news - it could wait. "Does Joey know?"
She nodded into my shoulder. "I'm scared."
"It's ok. I'll be here to hold your hand every step of the way."
"Who's Joey?" Evie asked, interrupting the mood.
"Joey was her boyfriend." Natalie said quickly. "I remember her coming home that night."
"But Archie." Evie said and I looked at her. She knew that she shouldn't say anything else.
"What were you going to tell her?" Natalie asked, looking me in the eye.
"That can wait." I said sharply. "You know how most of the rest of the story pans out. I stayed by Carrie's side during the pregnancy and Joey didn't. He didn't want to know. But who could blame him? It wasn't even his child."
"What??" Natalie screamed, getting up.
"It was mine." I said weakly. "My child." Natalie ran up to me, scratching at my chest. She was in tears and she was trying to take it out on me. I grabbed her wrists and hauled her up so she could look me in the eyes. "But Carrie is still out there. She ran away but she could still be alive."
"And the child?" she asked.
"He got ill." I lied. "There was nothing we could do."
Natalie cried into my shoulder as Evie looked at me. She nodded in understanding before leaving. I couldn't tell her the truth. Maybe it would be best not to. Or to tell her what I was going to tell Carrie. Maybe it would be best if they were both forgotten.
Sometimes the truth is too much to take.