Carol had taken the front passenger seat, which left me to ride in the back with Alicia. I pulled her onto my lap, fastening the seatbelt over the both of us before wrapping her in a hug that lasted the entire time we were in that car.
I didn’t notice we’d found somewhere til we stopped. I looked up slowly, groggy and out of it. The sight of a deserted looking farm greeted my tired eyes. I didn’t let go of Alicia while the others got out of the cars. Joe and Eloise volunteered to go look for some shovels while I just kind of stayed where I was. I didn’t know what else to do, everyone else was capable of pulling their weight at the moment, which meant none of them had the time or energy to look after a kid. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I did either, but I guess it made sense that the least useful member of the group would look after her.
Besides that, she was gonna have to grow up without any type of family at all now. Even the up himself git of a father she had was better than that. At least he cared about her.
“Why isn’t my daddy here?”
Holy fuck. How was I supposed to answer that? Telling her Tammy had died was easy but this was her dad.
“He’s… gone to see Tammy,” I replied weakly. I wish I’d had something better to say than that.
Her eyes watered, fresh tears welling up, and her lip wobbled. Oh god. “But why?” she sniffled, “I miss him.” I didn’t know what to say, and I wasn’t quick enough to think of something – her face crumpled up and I could feel her getting ready to bawl her eyes out.
“Don’t cry,” I told her lamely, hugging her a little bit tighter, stroking her hair absently the way I would when Rayn was in this sort of state. I never had to talk to Rayn when he was upset, he’d just attach himself to me and cry it out.
“Is he with mommy?”
“Yeah,” I nodded, forcing myself to try smiling at her. I’m not sure it worked. I watched out of the window as they dragged Richard’s body out of the trunk. “Y’know how I said they all go to heaven before?” She nodded, looking up at me, her attention on my words. “Well, d’you know where stars come from?” She shook her head this time. “Stars are the people in heaven. They come out to watch over us at night.”