Friday, 18 December 2009 - 7:40 pm

Everything to me

Matt here again. Faith’s off fetching dinner and said I could do this today. I need to feel like talking.

I did a bad thing today. I can’t tell her about it – she’d be mortified, and if I’m honest, so am I. It’s not like me. I hope it’s not like me.

It happened when I went to find some breakfast. I passed the room that we’ve been keeping Warren in and heard something move behind the door. I couldn’t tell what it was, that tiny shuffle, so I paused to listen. It didn’t come again. As if someone was holding their breath, hoping to not be noticed, hoping I’d pass on by and fail to check.

I wasn’t going to let anyone get away with that. I yanked the door open, my fingers strangling the doorhandle, tensed and ready for anything. If he was trying to escape, I was going to stop him. I’d make sure he didn’t hurt anyone again.

He wasn’t escaping. He lifted his arms towards me from his position on the floor and the metal bands around his wrists caught the orange light from the window; someone had got handcuffs from somewhere. A chain snaked around to lash his handcuffs to a pipe anchored solidly into the floor and wall. He wasn’t going anywhere.

Warren. Until that moment, I hadn’t realised how much I hated him. It surged up my gullet and made my teeth clench.


Yesterday, Faith told me off for giving her my food. We’re still on short rations. I can’t remember the last time we had a full meal. Faith’s eating for two now, but she doesn’t want everyone to know, so she’s only getting one person’s portion. Someone has to make sure she’s getting enough to eat and I want to take care of her. Of course I gave her my share.

It’s true that I haven’t been feeling great for the past couple of days. She says I’ve lost weight and not in a good way. I told her why I was doing it, but that didn’t help. She was too caught up in the damage it was doing to me – that’s how she put it: damage.

She was trying so hard not to be angry with me. She failed, but the effort made her crumble at the edges, so upset she barely made sense. Then she did make sense and I felt worse. As if I had let her down in some fundamental way.

“You can’t do that, Matt,” she said. “We need you. We need you here. I can’t do this by myself. We’ll make sure there’s enough. There has to be. Don’t make yourself sick, please don’t. I can’t lose you. I love you, and there’s the baby, and… I need you.”

It’s not like I was trying to kill myself or anything. Of course I want to be around. But she has to come first. She always comes first. That’s how this stuff works, right? What else am I supposed to do?

“I want to take care of you, too,” she said. There isn’t any stopping her when she gets upset, so I just let her keep going. Her hands plucked at mine, restless in her agitation, and tears made clean streaks on a face smudged with dirt from the troughs. “Please, let me. We’re supposed to look after each other. Can’t we just take care of each other?”

That’s when I started crying, too. I’m not too proud to admit it. It’s been a long time since anyone took care of me in any way I wanted, and I’m not just talking about the After. I love Faith – I want to take care of her and the baby. But I wasn’t prepared for her to want to do the same. Which is silly, now that I think about it. I know her, I know what she’s like.

It’s not like when I was sick. That’s different. It’s okay to need looking after when you’re sick or hurt. But I’m all right now – not even limping any more. I can look after myself.

She doesn’t want me to have to. She wants me to lean on her, the way she leans on me. I don’t think she understands what she’s asking.

It’s not because I think I should be the man of the relationship. I’ve never been one of those macho assholes who think that the women need to stay in their place with the kitchen and children. It’s not like that. It’s because… it’s hard. I want to put her first, but she won’t let me. She just keeps telling me that she needs me here.

“I can’t do this without you,” she said. I almost argued with her. She can do all of this without me. She’s strong like that.

I’m not. I’ve never had that kind of strength.

I couldn’t do any of this without her. Not now, not with how much I love her. I saw Warren pointing a gun at her and I knew that he’d kill us both if he fired. I saw it, I saw her lying there, covered in blood, staring sightlessly at the sky. She was going to die, our baby with her. And there was nothing I could do. If I jumped in, he would have shot her. When I spoke, I said the wrong thing, only made things worse. I was standing there, looking at her about to die right in front of me, and there wasn’t a damned thing I could do about it.

I almost snapped right there under the pressure. It felt like I was bursting with it, but I knew we’d end up in a bloody mess on the ground if I let it go. All I could do was hang on until my knuckles went white.

If she dies, that’s it for me. I don’t think there’s any way back from that.

She tried to tell me that she feels the same about me today. At least, I think that’s what she was getting at. I don’t know what to do with that. I’ve been very good at avoiding that kind of thing – letting someone get this close, needing and being needed; they’re not what I wanted. Now here I am, and it hurts. I’m terrified of losing her and the baby, and one of them hasn’t even been born yet. I feel that black hole opening up behind my heart every time I think about it.


Today, standing in that little room with Warren, that was all I could see. Blood and a black hole. I don’t even remember starting to hit him.

Next thing I knew, Dale was grabbing my upper arms and hauling me backwards. I stumbled but didn’t fight him. Warren was curled up on the floor, his arms over his head to protect it. My hands hurt and my pulse filled my ears.

“What the hell are you doing?” He had me outside of the room by then and shook me to make me look at him. It worked.

“I don’t know.” I didn’t have enough in me to lie. I looked at my hands, at the blood dripping down my fingers. My knuckles were split; I didn’t know if the blood was Warren’s or mine. Probably both.

I felt sick. I guess Dale saw that.

“Go clean yourself up.”

I nodded and walked out. I was halfway to the water filter when I threw up.

After I had washed the blood off my hands, I went to Masterson for something to bind them with. I had to put gloves on so Faith wouldn’t know. No-one has mentioned it, not even the snarky doctor. I guess no-one cares that much about Warren any more, except me.


That kind of thing, it’s not like me. Every time I remember why my hands hurt, I wonder what kind of person I really am. It scares me that I’m capable of something like that.

I wish I didn’t love her so much. I wish this didn’t mean everything to me. But it does.