Robby looked at herself in the mirror, frowning slightly. She pulled the skin under her eyes taut and smoothed her brows. In the end she heaved a sigh and turned away. ‘I miss make up.’
‘I know,’ she went on. ‘It’s trivial isn’t it? Of all the things to miss and all the things we have lost. I don’t know, maybe it’s just a symbol of normalcy, of a life before this.’ She slumped down on the bed beside me, staring up at the ceiling. ‘Life used to be so simple. Remember when worrying about grades and being asked to prom felt like the biggest problems in the world?’
‘We never really had a prom,’ I shrugged.
‘You know what I mean.’ She looked at me for a second, pursing her lips. ‘You never had a prom?’
‘No not really. I mean, I think there was supposed to be a dance or something when we finished school but I never went to it.’
‘Have you ever even been to a prom?’
I shook my head.
She gasped, seeming genuinely shocked.
‘I don’t think proms are as big a thing in England as they are in America, you know,' I defended myself.
This is what I liked about Robby: how human she was. We had all faced incomprehensible grief, we had lost so much and had fought so hard, and this is when you can lose your humanity. This is when you can lose your grip on reality and set yourself on a never-ending downward spiral. Robby continued to live though, she continued to walk, and talk and act like a human who hadn’t lost everything that had mattered to them. I didn’t know how she did it, I didn’t know how she remained so strong in such turbulent times.
I liked that she missed the little things.
‘It’s pretty late, I should head back. We have to be up early don’t forget.’
Robby and I had been assigned the duty of checking the perimeter daily, checking for intrusions and weaknesses. We weren’t the only ones who did it but we did it in shifts: we had the morning hours.
‘Let me walk you back.’
‘It’s only across the road.’
‘I know.’ I stood up and pulled my trainers on.
The night air was cool and the streets were cast in a dull amber glow from the fire that burned near the entrance to the camp. The idea was to keep it lit up enough so the people on guard could spot any zombies that would be a threat, but to also keep it dark enough that it wasn’t like a beacon, attracting any corpses in a ten mile radius.
Robby slipped her hand into mine as we began to walk.
When there are no words to say, a silence will do just fine. The silence did not feel awkward, it felt natural and comfortable. Stars shone over our heads and for one small second I almost forgot about everything that was going on. I almost forgot that the world was getting ripped to shreds and humanity was ceasing to exist.
When we arrived, Robby turned to face me. Her hand left mine and traced up my arm, resting lightly on the side of my face. Everything grew very quiet and very still, except for the beating of my pounding heart. She leaned forwards and pressed her lips to my cheek.
‘Sleep safely, Joe.’
Just like that she was gone and I was left alone.
My hand went to my cheek automatically and I felt a goofy smile beginning to emerge before realizing I looked like an idiot. I looked like a typical, dumb, love struck teenager. Relationships weren’t important now; survival was. I couldn’t lose another person I cared for, I just couldn’t. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to take it.