Monday, 27 July 2009 - 6:58 pm

A normal day

Today, I decided to stretch my legs and went out with the foragers. Over a dozen of us clomped off across the frosted landscape with a couple of makeshift sleds in tow. The guys have been putting things together while I wasn’t looking.

I wound up pulling one of the sleds while the others ran into buildings and searched for supplies. It was nice to be out in the fresh air, even with the smouldering sky hovering so close overhead and the icy bite on the wind.

For a while, I was able to forget about everything that’s been going on lately. The shamblers, Ben, Bree. Caught up in the search for food and essentials, it was like it was months ago, when things were simpler. It was a chance to be with the others, to get to know the newcomers as more than just names. Like how Janice always looks out for Tom, because he’s got a sore knee and will hurt it if he slips again. Jersey is hanging with Terry a lot now; I suspect they might be bad for each other, reckless behaviour concentrated too much for anyone’s good. Now that his sister is better and he doesn’t have to worry so much, Terry has definitely come out of his shell. Dale is mostly recovered from his injuries and recently started accompanying the foragers too, under Thorpe’s watchful eye, and he seems like a good enough fella.

Matt walked with me for most of the day. It was nice; I’ve missed his company. Between Ben’s frowning and the secrets I’m not supposed to tell, we haven’t really talked much lately.

It’s no accident that going out with the foragers meant that I got time away from Ben. I needed space to think and to not have his eyes on me for a while. Even if he’s not in the room, I know he’s close, like a lean on my peripheral vision.

I asked Matt how he’s doing and he said that he’s all right. He sounded surprised by his own answer. Other than being worried about me, he seems better than he has been for a long while. More like his old self. I guess having a big group has given him a bigger audience; he always did play well to a full house.

He gave me that concerned look that wanted to return the inquiry to me, but he didn’t put it into words. I told him anyway. That things are difficult since Ben got back and we’re trying to work them out. I told him that Bree’s involved, but not in that way. That it’s complicated and painful and I’m not handling it very well. I didn’t tell him the truth about Ben, but I didn’t need to. Matt slung an arm around my shoulders and let me know that he was there for me, whatever I needed. At that moment, that was exactly what I needed.

It was a relief to hear. It was like getting my best friend back, though I never lost him, not really. I leaned on him and he let me, and we talked about other stuff. He let me in on some of the gossip – like his suspicions about Thorpe and Dale. That surprised me for several reasons, not least being Matt’s casual attitude towards it. I remember how I felt when I saw him and Thorpe together; it’s still bright and sharp. It’s still confusing. I changed the subject.

By the time we got back to the Chemistry Department, I felt lighter. I felt more solid at the same time, as if I wasn’t at the mercy of the pounding waves at the changing of the tide, not knowing if it was going out or coming in. I felt better able to handle the buckshot being scattered in my direction.

Ben was hovering and grumpy when we came inside, scowling at me and my friend. I went over and kissed his cold cheek, and spent the evening talking to him about nothing. He thawed after a while and held onto my hand.

It was almost like being a normal couple again. Like being a normal girl. It was nice to remember what that’s like, before I have to dive back into what passes for our regular lives here.