The next morning when I wake up I can tell by the light flowing in through the window that I slept later that usual. I sit up and look around finding the bed partially empty because Carl isn't there. For a moment I feel calm and peaceful... but then the events of yesterday come rushing back and I'm sent back into a long dark tunnel of pain and anger and sadness. For once I just want things to be okay. For once I just want to be okay. But no. Every goddamn time things start to go right something always screws it up. I don't even know what to do anymore. I don't know what to do without Casey... It seems like nowadays everyone just has a little piece of me and when they die, they take that little piece with them and I don't know how many more people I can lose before I completely break.
I wipe away the tears I hadn't noticed until now and force myself to take a deep breath. They're probably waiting on me to bury Casey. I take another deep breath as I walk to the bathroom down the hall so I can see what I look like. When I see myself, I'm actually surprised at what I see. It's been awhile since I looked at myself, but wow I look like shit. What used to be bright, clear blue eyes are puffy and red, my hair is dirty and ratty, my face looks skinnier than it used to be, an unhealthy looking skinny honestly and my forehead and right cheek is smeared with mud... and most revolting of all... a hint of blood. Casey's blood. I fight back tears as I frantically wipe at the spot on my face, trying to get it to go away. After a moment I stop as I see it's making no progress and run back into the bedroom that I stay in to grab my water bottle. I carry it back to the bathroom and use what little water is left in the bottle to clean my face.
Once my face is clean and I feel like I can actually breath again I pull my hair back into a ponytail and fix up my outfit up. I'm not at all satisfied with the girl I see in the mirror, but it's the best I can do at the moment. I make my way down stairs slowly, trying to mentally prepare myself for what's going to be happening. When I reach the bottom of the stairs I'm greeted by a kiss on the lips from Carl. It doesn't last long, but it's sweet, and I smile slightly.
"Good morning, beautiful," Carl says, placing another kiss on my forehead.
"It's a morning, I guess... not sure I'd call it a good one."
Carl sighs, giving me a tight hug. "I'm sorry, Izzy. They've been waiting to bury him until you were up and ready... You're up, but are you ready?"
I nod my head quickly and reply with a very unconvincing, "Yes."
"You're a terrible liar, ya know? But okay, come on, they've got it all ready out back," he tells me.
Carl laces his fingers in mine and leads me outside. We find the others already waiting out there and I feel a twinge of guilt for holding everyone up. Nowadays you don't have time to waste. You have to keep moving forward and get the things that need to be done, done because there is always something else that needs to be done also.
I don't know how I'm able to keep myself together as they lower his body into the freshly dug hole, but no tears come and I don't feel like I'm a falling apart. Actually... I feel the opposite of what I thought I'd feel. I only feel frustrated. I feel frustrated and angry and I just want to scream. I run a hand through my hair, trying to calm myself, without success. I look down at my other hand which is holding Carl's and realize I was squeezing a little too hard. I loosen my grip and whisper a, "sorry," to Carl.
"You're fine," he assures me.
I gather enough energy for a small nod and turn back to face Daryl and Glenn, who have just lowered Casey into the ground. Everyone takes a minute to say something or put something with him. Except for me. Once everyone is done and has stepped aside I decide on what I'm going to do. "Can I have a minute? I just... I need a minute by myself," I say to no one in particular.
Everyone nods with a look of sympathy on their face... I don't want sympathy, I don't want to be looked at like I'm weak. I'm not. I'm not.
I sit down on the ground next to the small hole and feel the tears start to come. All my emotions that I expected to feel earlier hit me like a slap in the face. All the sadness comes rushing to the surface like a bunch of waves reaching the shore of an ocean. It fuels my anger and my frustration. I hit the ground with my hand which causes pain to rush up my arm and causes my ribs to sting. But I hit the ground again. And again. And again. Until the only pain I feel is the pain in my hand and my arm and my ribs... the physical pain drowns out the emotional pain and that's exactly what I want.
After a moment I let my throbbing hand rest and I let the tears flow. Unable to support my own weight, I fall back so that I'm laying on the cold ground. The tears stream down my face in rushing rivers. I lay there for what feels like hours, letting it all out. "I'm sorry Casey," I choke out, in between sobs. "I'm so... so sorry. It wasn't supposed to end this way. Not for you. God, you deserved so much better... I wish you would have let me die yesterday. The bullet was aimed for me, I deserved it! After everything that I've done... all the people I've killed... I deserved it. Goddammit I don't even want to be here! You could have let me die... I would have happily gone, Casey."
I sit up and wipe my eyes, roughly, trying to rid them of every single tear. I look down at my hand. A swollen, purplish mess... stupid. It's probably broken and now what? If it would have been my right hand I'd be screwed. I shake my head, angry at myself for actually being that stupid. I glance over at Casey's body which is hidden by a blanket. I bring my legs up to my chest and rest my head on my knees. "I'm going to miss you so much... You helped me so much without even realizing it. You weren't just my best friend, you were my brother and family looks after each other... I'm so sorry I couldn't save you. I-I'm so sorry. I love you so much Casey... I'm sorry."
I try to push myself up, but fail as I forgot about my hand. I let out a gasp and fall back the ground. I bite my lip hard and hold my hand to my stomach as I push myself up using my other hand. As I turn around I'm surprised when I run into someone. My foot slips and I feel myself start to fall backwards, but I'm caught by familiar hands. Carl. He brings me into his arms and I wrap one of mine around his waist, keeping my injured hand between us. He's warm and his hug brings me a little comfort. He strokes my hair with one hand while keeping his other arm around my waist, tightly.
We stand there in each other's arms for a moment before he pulls away, only to grab my hand and lead me inside. He pulls me behind him, not bothering to stop at all as everyone stares at us as we weave our way through the house. Once we reach our room he shuts the door and plops down on the bed, nonchalantly. I raise an eyebrow, wiping at my eyes. He pats the space beside him and I walk over, lying down beside him. He reaches down to the floor beside the bed and grabs something. The iPod. He scrolls through the music for a moment before picking a song. It's not one I'm familiar with.
He sets the iPod down before scooting closer to me. I wrap an arm around him to pull him closer, but wince slightly because I was forced to use my injured hand. Carl's eyes look concerned as he sees the condition of my hand. He picks it up and examines it before looking back up at me. "What happened?" he demands.
"It's nothing... I was just being stupid..."
"No, it's not nothing... you can't hurt yourself like that Izzy..." I can see the pain in his eyes as he looks at me. "Tell me what I can do... anything. I don't know what to do... I just want to make you happy... I can't stand to see you like this, I'm supposed to be the one person that makes sure you're not hurting and I'm failing..."
Unable to reply I do the one thing I can think of and kiss him. He responds quickly, kissing me back fiercely. Our chests, rise and fall against each other, quickly. The kiss tastes like tears and sadness, but it's nice. It allows me to forget for a moment. And with the comfort of Carl's body next to mine, forgetting is pretty easy. He pulls away, much to my disappointment, probably minutes later and places one last kiss on my forehead. I rest my head on his chest and sigh.
"I'd say that helped a little," I smile, even though he cant see it.
He chuckles softly before whispering, "I love you so much, Izzy." He adds a bit more seriously, "And I'm not sorry for saying that you're not going anywhere while I'm able to stop it."
"Carl..." I mumble against his shirt.
"Don't ruin it," he warns, jokingly.
I roll my eyes before replying, "I love you too."