“Wait! Jocelyn!” Ethan yelled after me.
Although he annoyed me, I was intimidated by him. And of course the knife in his pocket that was probably still dripping with Jim’s blood. I stop mid-step.
“What?” I jerk my head to his direction.
I peer into his eyes, that were noticeably blue, to mimic his intense stare. If he got rid of his stern facial expression and trimmed his unruly hair, he could be handsome. Very handsome, actually. He looked desperate now.
What does he want of me?
“Why don’t you come with us? We’re only a few miles away,” he pleads.
Ethan walks closer. My chest tightens with fear.
“I have a big house located up that hill,” I point up the huge hill to my right, “Its right up there. I’m perfectly happy with it. But if you guys need anything, come right up.”
I force a smile. He still doesn’t seem impressed with the invitation. His eyebrow furrows. His shoulders slump down.
“There’s nobody there, Jocelyn. Open your eyes. You-you’re not going to last up there by yourself. Have you even killed one, yet?” Ethan’s looks at me as if I were a dying puppy.
I shake my head.
He nodded. His voice gets very low when he says, “Here. For the way up.”
He reaches into his pockets and brings out the knife. Ethan looks up at me, trying to change my mind with his sapphire eyes. Slowly, he hands me the weapon. I take it reluctantly.
“Keep your eyes open,” he murmurs. I grimace and nod.
As I walk out, I turn once more to see him.
“I never actually thanked you…for saving me.”
You idiot. You should have gone with him.
I shake the thought away. What if my dad or mom comes home and I’m not there? As the cold, autumn wind blows in my face, I trudge up the immense hill.
He had people, he had supplies.
I look down at the bread under my arms and in my pockets.
This won’t hold you up.
I slide my hands in my pocket and stroke the cool blade that Ethan had given me. I feel a thin liquid at the sharp edge.
Without hesitation, I pull my hands out.
I kick at the pavement beneath my shoe soles, trying to gather my thoughts.
Mom or Dad would come home, not see me, and mourn. Little would they know that I was a couple of miles away, in a little home with other survivors. I stopped in my tracks. It finally occurred to me.
Perhaps I’m too attached to the house. I’m too obsessed with this idea of “everything will be okay.” Ethan was right.
What if they never come back?
Tears prickle the corners of my eyes. There’s no use. I fall to the ground on my knees and let the tears flow. They trace their way down my face and fall on my dirty hands.
I clear my throat to stop my erratic breathing and wipe the tears away. The winds whistle in my ears. The trees sway gently. I look up at the ashen clouds looming overhead. I can’t believe I’m doing this.
“God?” I ask.
A rumble comes from the sky.
“If I should go with them, God, please send a sign.”
Just then, something hits my head. Not again.
But it’s like a little tap. It seeps into my hair roots. Then another tap. And another. In a matter of seconds, the rain comes pouring down.
I smile at the clouds above me. That’s enough of a sign for me. Standing up, I tuck the exposed food under my shirt and rise to my feet.
I look at the distant deli, a place that offered me opportunity. Maybe even a new life.
Hopefully Ethan is still there. I run.
“Ethan?” I yell out when I run through the door. I grab my knees and catch my breath. My heart sinks when there’s no reponse.
“I’ve changed my mind. Where are you?” I say, lowering my voice. Pacing through the aisles, I spot a huge spill in the bread aisle.
A bluish color. Where’s Jim's body? I slowly walk towards the spill in a mixture of dread and disgust. I crinkle my nose and peer around the corner.
The spill continues around the corner, and into the back of the deli.