Sunday, 22 February 2009 - 6:02 pm

Glad it was you

Today has been strange. I miss Sax’s bulky presence, the width of his shoulders in amongst us. I kept looking to the back of the group to make sure that Sally and Masterson were keeping up, but they’re not here either. I even miss Masterson’s biting comments in the background, sniping at everything. We feel smaller without them. I hope they’re all right.


Matt has been an ‘official’ part of the group for a couple of days now. He seems to be fitting in all right, though not as vivaciously as he used to. He’s just shouldering the backpack someone found for him and walking alongside us. He lagged behind a bit towards the end of the day – I don’t think he’s used to this much walking. I can barely believe I keep up as much as I do; I guess I’ve just got used to it.

I caught up with him as we settled down for dinner in an empty house. The rain had just started falling outside – it seemed lighter today, and it had let us keep walking until much later than usual. There hasn’t been a day without it since it started; maybe it’s finally starting to dry up? I can hope.

When I asked, Matt said he was doing all right. And for the first time, I believed him. He seems calmer lately, his taut edges lowering. He’s not better, not completely, but he’s not as unhappy as he was. It’s such a relief, knowing he’s pulling out of the place he was in, and I don’t mean just the sharks’ territory.

“So, this Ben guy,” he said. Ben was sitting with Thorpe, far enough away that they couldn’t hear us. “You really like him?”

That was more like the Matt I knew, checking up on who I was with to make sure he’s what I want. There was a solemn concern behind the question, and a trace of distrust that wasn’t so much like my old friend.

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” Putting it into words like that made it more real and I looked over at Ben. “He’s a good guy. Been really good to me.”

Matt nodded and fell quiet, apparently satisfied with that answer. I wasn’t so ready to let it drop, though. There was something we hadn’t talked about yet, and I felt it hanging in the air between us. Especially now, talking about this.

“Should we, um, talk about the last time we saw each other before… all this?” I felt like a silly little teenager, not even able to say ‘that time we had sex’. My mouth wouldn’t form the words; they morphed on my tongue into a lame euphemism. There’s still a part of me that can’t believe we actually did it.

He shrugged. “Is there anything to talk about?”

“I dunno. I… freaked out and ran off. Thought you’d never speak to me again.” Of course, now I felt stupid for running out on him, but it’s not every day that I sleep with my best friend.

“Yeah, well, you’re an idiot.”

I’ve never been so relieved to hear someone call me an idiot. I bumped his shoulder and thanked him, and we both relaxed a bit. He even smiled for a second.

“So how come they call you ‘Faith’?”

It was my turn to shrug then. “They just… started with it and I never got around to correcting them. I’m kinda used to it now, I guess. And Mac… seems like a different person.”

“You want me to stop calling you that?”

I hadn’t thought of it like that and looked at him with surprise. “No. I don’t mind. It’s– you haven’t called me ‘Faith’ since we were kids.”

He nodded, and grinned as he recounted the memory of when I asked him to stop calling me ‘Faith’. I was eleven years old and my mother and her friends had been cooing and tormenting me in my pretty dress. By the time I escaped to see Matt, I had been ready to explode with the indignity of it all. And Mac was born out of my rebellion.

Now there’s no-one left to rebel against and things are changing again. I’ve been fighting that, fighting against becoming what this world is turning people into, but not what name I’m called by. It seems like such a small detail.

Matt and I talked for a while longer, about little things, unimportant things. It felt good to be able to do that. When I got up to go find someplace to lay my blanket down, he caught my hand and looked awkward. It’s not an expression he wears often, or well.

He said, “I’m glad it was you, you know. That found me.”

He got a hug for that, and he squeezed me tightly in return. If I had any lingering worries about our friendship, they were chased away when he did that. It made me all warm inside; that feeling reminded me of cold evenings and curling up in front of a fire, comfortable and secure. Loved. “Me too,” I told him.

Ben got a big hug after that, too, but he got a kiss along with his. He was nonplussed and starting to look troubled, so I thanked him for trusting me. I thanked him for trusting me enough to help Matt be here with us – without Ben’s involvement, he might not have come along at all. That moment on the riverside might have gone so differently. I might have lost my best friend.

But I didn’t. He’s here, and Ben’s here, and we’re doing okay. Right now, at this moment, I feel like the luckiest girl to survive the end of the world. We’ve lost so much, but not everything. Not quite everything.