Wed, 15 July 2009 - 9:14 pm

Changes wrought

Today, a group of nearly a dozen of our amalgamated number went out to look for supplies. I stayed behind with the kids and the injured, along with Sally and a couple of the boys for security. My arm’s still not working very well after the fight, so I’m taking the chance to rest it while I can.

Dr Kostoya showed his face to report that he has been pouring hot water on the pipes and they’re all unfrozen now. So we can try to feel secure again. It was nice of him to try but very much too late. We keep our watches and weapons close.

 

Ben stayed behind too. He said that he wanted to make sure that we were protected here, but I have my suspicions. I think he stayed because he didn’t want to go outside and get burnt again.

I managed to catch him alone and asked him what was wrong. He keeps himself separate from everyone else and barely talks to me at all. He doesn’t even talk to Thorpe, his fire-fighting buddy he’s known for years. I don’t remember the last time I saw the two of them sitting together, laughing at some private joke. Certainly not since Ben got the Sickness.

He shook his head in answer to my question but he didn’t walk away like he keeps doing lately. I took a chance and pressed him.

“The Sickness changed you,” I said. I had meant it to be a question but it didn’t come out that way.

He looked at me and I couldn’t tell if the shadow was on or in his eyes. “Yes.”

“How? I mean, in what way? Is that why you got burnt?” He still bears the red stripes across his cheeks and neck.

He nodded but he didn’t say anything. I couldn’t read him; he has become good at closing off his expression.

“Ben, I want to help you. But I can’t if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”

“It doesn’t scare you?”

“That you’ve changed?” It’s not a reaction that had crossed my mind. “No. Should it?”

He touched my cheek gently. “No, not you.”

As answers go, it wasn’t a very comforting one. There was a warm, happy spot in my belly that wasn’t sure if it should be there. “Then let me in, Ben. Tell me what’s happening with you.”

He hesitated, then shook his head. “I will, when I have it figured out.”

I wanted to help him figure it out. He could see it in my face and the shutters were down; the words died before they fell out of my mouth. The answer was no and that was that. I never could change Ben’s mind about anything – that much of him was the same as ever.

He kissed me on the forehead by way of apology, and that was the end of the conversation.

 

The foragers didn’t find much today. They came back to the chemistry building in high spirits but with empty hands. At least the chance to get out seems to have done them good and they didn’t see any shamblers.

I talked with Matt about the situation with Ben. He was supportive but had no answers either. What can any of us do? There are nervous flies in my belly looking for a way out. I felt a little better after talking to him, though; I can always count on Matt for that.

I guess we’ll find out the truth soon.

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