Sunday, 16 August 2009 - 9:57 pm


Hi, it’s Matt again. Faith finally cried herself to sleep. I opened up the laptop to see what she’d written, but all she had today was the title. I guess the rest is up to me.

I wish it wasn’t bad news.

We knew it was bad when Faith came out of the van this morning. We were digging out the vehicles – one of them was wrecked, but it had protected the others from the worst of the landslide. She looked so strange that we all turned and stared at her. I’ve never seen her so calm before; it was the kind of calm that made me want to go over and shake her, just to see if my Faith was still in there.

“We need to go Dillon’s aunt’s house,” she said. Last night, we had agreed to head back to the university, get the kid to the doctor. We all knew she wouldn’t make such a reversal lightly. “He should be with his family.” She didn’t need to tell us that there wasn’t much time left.

She went back into the van and closed the door, and the rest of us finished up. It wasn’t long before we were on the road.

I haven’t had such a horrible journey before. Thorpe insisted on driving the van and Dale went with him. I wanted to ride with Faith, but there wasn’t room in the back with her and the kid. I couldn’t have done anything anyway, but I wanted to be there. I should have been there. I shouldn’t have left her alone with him.

Something happened about halfway to the house – I’ve never seen Thorpe drive so crazily before. At first I thought it was the ice, or the tyres on the van going. Then I saw Faith moving in the back of the van, rocking back and forth, and I knew. I knew. I have no idea how Thorpe and Dan did it, but somehow they kept going.

We didn’t get a warm welcome when we got to the highset house. We pulled up and piled out, and suddenly there were guns aimed at us. We held our hands out and denied coming to take anything – the people in the house seemed to believe we had come to steal all their food. They wouldn’t listen to us. I heard the guns cocking and thought that, apparently, things can always get worse.

Then the van’s door opened. Faith stepped out with Dillon in her arms, and we all forgot about the guns and the paranoia that might kill us. I don’t know if it was the fall of his arm, or the way his head fell back, or the look on her face, but everyone could see that he was gone. Even those in the house.

I don’t know where she gets her strength from. She’s so thin these days, and I could have sworn I saw her shaking as she walked up to the front of the group, step after heavy step. We moved aside for her and she didn’t falter once. She carried the kid and raised her voice, and I know that he must have been so heavy.

“Mr and Mrs Holt?” I had no idea what Dillon’s last name was until she asked for his parents. I didn’t even know that she knew it. It got their attention. “We were bringing him home. He was protecting us, and… he was so brave. I’m sorry.”

They came out of the house, down the steps and close enough to see his face. There were four or five of them, all carrying rifles. A couple of them started shouting and making demands and threats. His mother howled and buried herself in her husband’s chest. But Faith, she carried on like she couldn’t even hear them.

She told them that Dillon had been with her when the bomb went off. I didn’t know that. They found each other in the rubble and they haven’t been apart since. They’ve looked after each other through this whole nightmare. They went to his home and found the note left for him. That led us here, after all these months. We wanted to bring him home. And we almost made it. He almost got to see them again.

I think the thing that got to me most was the smudge of blood on her jaw. Looking at it, I knew that she had hugged him when she realised he was gone. She had held onto him like that all the way here, I just know it. It’s just the way she is.

When she was finished speaking, she stood there, holding him and waiting. I thought they might let her stay like that until the rain came, but finally one of them stepped forward and took him off her. I think it was Dillon’s father. He took the kid away, back to where his family could cry over him.

Without Dillon, Faith was so lost. I touched her arm and she shrank in, so I wrapped her up. All her strength went with him.

“We have to sing for him,” she said, looking at me to fix it. I glanced at the others, at the new Seekers who haven’t been through this before and didn’t know. Dan looked solemn, standing with his head bowed. The siblings were holding onto each other, Terry trying not to cry as obviously as his sister. Dale had tears streaming down his face and his arms wrapped around himself. Thorpe nodded at me, stony-faced; he’s a stoic bastard, but he got it. Even he wanted to sing for the kid.

So we did. The lyrics were garbled and thick, but we got through it. The Holts stared at us, but a couple of them joined in. It was like they couldn’t help themselves.

When it was done, we went back to the vehicles. No-one wanted us to stay. What were we supposed to say to these people? There wasn’t anything left. They had Dillon and we had nothing but empty hands.

Inside the van, Faith finally broke down and sobbed like she was trying to choke up her whole heart. That time, I wasn’t going to leave her alone back there. I’m not too proud to admit that I cried right along with her. I loved the damn kid too.

Now we’re a few miles down the road, stopped wherever we were when the rain hit. I guess Thorpe and Dan drove; they were the only ones capable, I think.

It’s hard to think about tomorrow. My head is full of Faith standing there, carrying the kid and telling his family how good he was and how much we’re going to miss him. She wasn’t wrong.

She’s sleeping now. I think I’m going to curl up with her; we both need the company right now. Whatever comfort we can get, though it won’t be enough to forget the one we’ve lost.

Good night, kid. I wish it wasn’t goodbye.

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