Marx and Diana are a teenage couple trying to survive the apocalypse where people become infected with a disease causing aggression and violence, but the infected still remain intelligent enough to use a gun, set a trap, and hold conversations. They simply want to kill everyone, that's all.
She looked down at her hands, covered in dirt, nails grown out too long with green and red polish chipped almost completely off. How long had she been like this? She didn’t want to even think about what the rest of her must look like.
“Diana, are you okay?” Marx called from the river. He had already stripped himself of all his clothes besides his boxers and his brown hair clung to his head, dripping wet. “Come on it’s great in here.”
“Yeah, just give me a minute,” she replied, looking through him instead of at him, not that he would know the difference.
They hadn’t seen another person in 2 weeks and the trees all around provided good covering, but she still felt anxious undressing outdoors. Finally, deciding she was going to have to get clean eventually, she shed her cloths, neatly folding them and setting them on a large rock away from the dirt. Wearing only her underwear and bra, she dipped a toe into the water. Instantly a chill ran up her body and she recoiled. “You said it was great!” She shouted, folding her arms over her breasts and turning away.
“It is!” Marx insisted. “You just gotta get used to it, come on now, you know you really want to.” His smile was hard to resist and his light brown skin glowing as the sun reflected off the water droplets was enough to convince her. She turned and jumped in. A sharp rock stuck into the center of her foot, making her reflexes take over. Her body crumpled into the water just long enough to get water in her eyes, nose and ears.
When she came up again Marx was laughing and slapping at the water. “You would hurt yourself on something this simple,” he said. He was almost starting to tear up from laughing so much.
“Okay, that’s enough.” Diana said. “It’s not even that funny.” The point on her foot still hurt quite a bit. It would probably leave a bruise. She winced at the thought of dealing with that as they walked constantly. When she looked at her hands again they were clean of all dirt, but they were still wrong. Her hands weren’t supposed to look like this after all, and the bits of paint that still remained on her nails seemed to mock her, reminding her that she would never have perfectly neat nails again. “I want to find some nail polish.” She said without thinking.
“What?” Marx stopped laughing, and now cocked his head slightly, unsure if he heard her right.
“I know it’s stupid, but it would make me feel better, like everything would be a little more normal.”
“It’s not stupid,” he said, “I get it. It’s like in Zombie Land, when that one dude just wanted a twinkie. Whatever makes you happy, we can do, but you know all the stores were raided a while ago.”
“I know,” her voice trailed off, “but I kinda doubt people would have bothered with the nail polish. I bet it’s still there.” She started to rub the water all over her body, removing every trace of filth she found. She closed her eyes and turned away from Marx, ending the conversation. He was right about the water, she realized, it did feel amazing now, but she wouldn’t admit that to him.
“Are you really going to let your bra get all wet? You shouldn’t keep it on” He said. “I think it would make more sense to leave it with the rest of your clothes so it can dry.”
“I could say the same about your boxers,” she smirked, still not looking at him, “but nice try, I’m good for now.”
She turned around to see him staring at his own reflection in the water. He hadn’t changed as much as her in their time trying to just survive. He had some facial hair now, but he kept it trimmed with a knife, a process both of them found nerve wrecking. As far as other body hair went, for the both of them it was a free for all, no judgment; that kind of petty stuff just didn’t matter anymore. “I think I’d like purple nail polish, what do you think?” She said.
“I think I’ll take the purple, and you can have whatever is left.” Marx says, coming up closer to her, but still keeping a safe distance. His smile was crooked, and his chipped tooth stood out like a poodle amongst German shepherds, but it made her smile too.
“You’re going to paint your nails?” She scoffed, “I’d like to see that.”
“Hey, I’m confident in my masculinity,” he said, holding his hands up. When he stood like that it showed his muscles nicely. He was well build before, for an artist, but lately she noticed he was much more toned. She wondered if she looked like that too, but doubted it.
“I’m holding you to that.” She said and dunked her hair under the water, running her fingers through he knots as much as she could. Once it dried it would become a massive mess of curls again, but while soaked, it was practically straight. Satisfied with the makeshift bath, she stepped out of the river and into a sunny patch to dry. “What are we going to do in winter?”
“I don’t know,” his mouth screwed up, “I wish I could say differently, guess I’m kinda useless.”
“Yeah, but you’re still mine.”
“You look beautiful.”
She laughed, as if she could really look beautiful like this. If anything she probably looked feral and exhausted, but she took the compliment anyways. “You look beautiful too,” She said, and meant it. “Why don’t you join me up here? We can spread out the blanket and have a picnic while we wait to dry.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to just go looking for that nail polish right now, as you are?” He said, his eyes flickering up and down her body.
“Very funny, now get your ass up here.” She bit her lip and went to the backpack, where they had a single blanket, red and black checkered, a plastic baggy of berries they had picked along the way, and a box of crackers. “We need more food.”
“How are we supposed to get more? We can’t live off berries, at least I can’t. Maybe you’re used to it, being a vegetarian, but that’s not going to cut it for me.”
“You know that’s not all vegetarians eat right?” He said, blinking slowly, unsure how to respond to the statement. “And I’m not going to hunt, if that’s what you’re implying. We’ll figure something else out okay?”
“Kay.” She sat on the blanket, which barely cushioned the ground and placed the food in front of her. “Well, let’s enjoy our feast while we can.” She squished a couple berries between two crackers and then shoved the entire thing into her mouth. “Wow,” She whispered.
“This is disgusting.” Her lips pursed and she chewed like a cow, grinding at the food.
“I’m so sorry madam,” Marx said, taking a bow, “would you like me to fetch you some tea and scones instead, or perhaps a nice dish of lasagna.”
“Very well,” She said, waving him away, “just bring me something better than this garbage, royalty deserves better.” They both burst out laughing and then continued to eat the crackers. “How do we know none of this is poisonous?” She asked. She hadn’t thought of the possibility before, which was probably a stupid move.
“We don’t,” Marx shoved a handful of the berries, some red, some blue, and some pink, into his mouth. “There’s only one way to find out.” He said it with a distant voice, so different from his attitude when joking around. His eyes glossed over as he stared into nothing, losing himself in a web of his thoughts. Diana didn’t snap him out of it. She knew sometimes it was just better to zone out of the world, even before it all went to hell she was constantly trying to escape everything.
After five minutes of silence and berry eating Diana cleared her throat. It was so hard to start up a conversation after hearing only the river and wind for so long. “At least we don’t have to worry about college now right?” She forced out, the words tripping over each other on her tongue. They hadn’t discussed anything like that before.
“That’s true.” The only response she got.
Irritated, she tried to spark the conversation again, “I spent so much time worrying about student loans, and trying to get scholarships, getting better test scores to get in in the first place, trying to figure out where I want to go and what I want to do. Now that’s all gone.” Even though she said it like it was a good thing, she felt mixed up in her head. Why was it so difficult just to know what she was feeling at any given time?
“I guess I still wish I could go to college,” He shrugged, “although I guess there’s no point in art now anyways.”
“Excuse you mister, of course there’s a point for art. If anything, there’s more of a point now than before. You would’ve been broke constantly trying to be an artist in the old world, but now you can just do it for fun. You can have true inspiration.” She spread out on the blanket, propping her head up with one arm. “Paint me like one of your French girls Marx,” She grinned.
“Get me some paint, and you know what, I will.” Diana could tell he was serious. He always moved his jaw in a certain way when he wanted something. It was an odd thing to notice, but he did it so often that it was hard not to take note of. She noticed she was dry now except for her hair which would likely take hours without a blow dryer. She fished the smaller blanket out of her bag and wrapped it around her hair like she used to with a towel. “What the hell are you doing?” Marx asked.
“Wrapping my hair, what does it look like I’m doing? I don’t want the back of my shirt to get all wet.”
“Then don’t put your shirt on,” he grinned and rolled over onto his back, looking up at her. “It’s gonna get wet form your bra anyways.”
“Haven’t we been over this already?” She scoffed.
“I don’t know, why don’t you remind me.”
She knelt down and kissed him, placing a hand on his bare chest. He leaned into it, pushing her back until she was laying on her back and he was on top of her. He smiled through the kiss, “I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you too.” She rolled him over so that she was on top and laughed, still continuing the kiss. He reached for her underwear and started to tug them down. “No,” she said, “we can’t.”
“Why not,” he whined.
“Marx you know damn well why.”
“Well now I want something more than that paint,” His brown eyes shown like gold and honey in the sun with darker shades branching off within it. “We should really try going to town.”
“It could be madness out there still.”
“Or it could not. There’s no way to know without going.”