Monday, 20 July 2009 - 8:02 pm

Three little words

I managed to talk to Sally last night while Masterson had gone to fetch them some dinner.

She’s more scared than she’s showing. She’s hardly eating and her nails are gnawed down to nubs. She looked at me warily as if I might turn on her at any moment, and said that she didn’t want to tell the others about the baby.

Especially not now. Who knows what they might do if they know she was poisoned and might be growing a mutant baby. I can see Conroy bleakly lining up the movie references, and a few of the others fetching weapons to drive her away. I don’t think anyone would attack her – not directly – but desperate people do crazy things. And Masterson’s mouth would only make things worse for everyone.

I told her we’d work this out. We’d do what we could to fix things. She knows as well as I do that there’s little we can do, but I hope she believed me when I said that I wasn’t going to let anything happen to her. She nodded stiffly and suddenly I could see she was a hair away from crying. So I hugged her, knowing it would break that last bit of self-control but hoping the release would make her feel better. It’s all right to lean on me, it’s all right.

“I don’t know what to do, Faith,” she said into my shoulder. She was shaking and I could barely make out the words. “How’m I going to get out of this?”

She’s too far along to abort safely, so the simpler, bloodier option was gone. She has to bear the baby, and the threat of the Sickness is still swinging over her.

“We’ll figure it out,” I told her. “You’re not alone.”

I seem to be saying those three words so often these days. They feel empty and overused on my tongue, like a candy sucked to a thin shell. All we have is each other here; it’s the one thing that we don’t have to fight and scrape and search for. And I don’t want to let anyone go, not even the strangers among us, the ones we’re just starting to know.

This isn’t a case of keeping your enemies closest: it’s keeping the strangers close, your friends closer, and your enemies at arm’s reach so you can swing a bat at their head.


I left Sally when she was feeling better and Masterson came back. He scowled at me and snapped something about me sticking my nose in again. It hurt more than I like to admit.

“I’m just being a friend to her,” I said. “I want to–”

“Help, yeah, we know.” The derision in his voice twisted in my chest. “We don’t need your ‘help’.”

I stared at him, stung into silence. I’m used to his sharp tongue but not in that way. I don’t know what might have prompted him to slash at me that way. I managed, “What–” before he cut me off again.

“Look at your own house before you go fixing up other people’s.” And then he walked away.

All things considered, I would have preferred a punch in the face. Now Sally is miserable and Masterson is as angry-faced as ever, and I have no idea why I’m suddenly to blame for everything. Maybe it’s because I’m in charge, the one that everyone follows. Maybe it’s something closer to home. I get the feeling that he was talking about Ben when he mentioned ‘my own house’. Unless he’s under the impression that there really was something between me and Matt and this is his way of disapproving. If that’s true, he’s a horrible hypocrite: I remember the way we found him at the hospital.


I feel heavy today. Leaden and useless. I stayed behind when the foragers went out; watching the kids bat Dillon’s soccer-ball around almost managed to cheer me up. His leg is still too sore to kick a ball (or take his weight), but he’s getting better at whacking it with his crutches.

I’m starting to feel stuck here. We’re learning a lot, unravelling mysteries, but we’re treading water. We have to strike out for somewhere soon or we’ll get pulled under and end up cold and hungry.

I think there’s a part of me that wants to run away, too. There’s too much being uncovered, like Caroline’s corpse in the shed. Don’t look, don’t look, stay back, get away.

Now I wonder: have we been running away from the truth all this time?

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