Fri, 17 April 2009 - 11:06 pm

Crossroads

It’s amazing how much ground we have managed to cover in the last couple of days. Our map has seemed so huge, sprawling roads and boundaries. We’ve travelled only a portion of it; that has taken us months to navigate, and there are several more dots to catch up with yet.

Now that we’re travelling on two wheels, some of the worst barriers have fallen for us. We can go through a lot of the snarled-up roads the cars couldn’t use, slipping in between the dead vehicles and debris. Some of them are still so clogged that we have to detour, but there’s no need to stop and shoulder a way open any more. Our diversions don’t take us miles out of our way now; the next block is usually good enough. And we’re travelling far faster than our feet can carry us.

We still have to be careful, for our own sakes as well as to look after the scooters. We can’t crank up the speed too much; some of us haven’t driven a scooter before and the stretches of clear road are short and sparse. But we’re taking fat chunks out of the space on the map anyway. I looked at the distances tonight and a butterfly fluttered in my chest. It’s all within reach again.

We stopped next to another gas station tonight and fought our way into the underground tanks for fuel. The scooters and the cans we have strapped to their backs are all filled up now, and we’re settling to sleep on a cafe’s couches. Our bellies are full and we have blankets to tuck around us. Things could be – and have been – a lot worse.

 

After the others went to do the usual food-and-water search of the building and to make sure we were secure for the night, I stayed with the map. I couldn’t look away from it. The corners are crumped and the folds are losing their definition, the ink blurring away to show paleness in the creases. Our dots are crude against its neat, crisp etching of roads and rail-lines.

After we crossed the river last, we walked a big loop west and south to get around and under the Pride’s territory, with a jerky bump around the prison and its fields. Since we left the mall, we’ve been travelling due east. There is more open land to the south; we don’t dare expose ourselves like that again, so we’ve stayed within the arms of the suburbs. Back in its pattern, the rain comes every day, usually in the late afternoon, creeping earlier and earlier when we’re not paying attention.

We’re past the open land now, and we have to make a turn. To the south, there are two dots: Dillon’s family and the Emergency Coordination Centre. To the northeast lies our final mark: my dad’s house. Home.

We’re supposed to be turning south; that was the plan. But now I look at that northeastern dot, nestled just a short way below where the river spews out into the sea, and it doesn’t seem so far away. Travelling as we are now, is it so much to ask to go there first? Every day that passes could take Dad away. I could already be too late, but what if I’m not? What if he’s there now, but he won’t be if we go south first?

Everything I’ve seen over the past four months tells me that I shouldn’t waste time getting to him. Everything I’ve seen says that I probably won’t find him alive, but I have to try. I have to know. A part of me knows that my heart is likely to be broken when we get there, and the hope of him is better than grieving. But I want to know. And what if he’s not gone? I can’t turn away when he might be there.

I’d give anything to see him again. Those last days before Christmas, before the bomb went off, we didn’t speak much. But he was always there and I know now how much that meant. I’m crying now just thinking about it.

I want to ask the others to turn northeast, but I don’t know how. It feels so selfish, taking them all that way, breaking the plan we had all made and agreed to. That I agreed to. Do I have any right to do that? People might assume that I’m some kind of leader, but I’m not. I can’t make this decision on my own and I can’t force them to go where I want.

I have to do what’s best for everyone. Dillon’s family is south. How can I risk being too late to reach them?

I can’t sleep. I hoped that putting all this in a post might help, but I think it just confirmed what I already knew. I want to go home, but I don’t know how.

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