of other survivors have been men in black jump suits with submachine guns. Bad guys dominate my perception of post-apocalyptic world survivors. This is unexpected and very much welcome, except for the fact that I am thrown off balance. This almost never happens to me, even when the prettiest girl in school would sit next to me in class or at lunch, I was never fazed by it. Now, I’m mush.
As she gets close enough to speak, I’m telling myself to pull it together. I’m almost composed when she smiles. My knees go weak and I’m speechless. But not Liam, he’s right there and already being Liam.
“Hi, is that your motorhome?” Liam asks her. The first survivor we have met and Liam wants to know about the motorhome.
“Yes, it’s my parents’. Or, it was. I guess it was theirs.” She trails off.
“Cool, can we go inside?” Liam carries on. I’m not sure if he is aware that most of humanity has been wiped out or if he is consciously trying to keep things normal.
“Well, it’s pretty messy and I don’t think you want to see it like that,” she says, but she’s stopped walking. This other survivor, this beautiful girl, is standing about 6 feet away from us. Further than you would in a normal conversation, but closer than she probably should for her own safety, not knowing us and all.
“Oh, well, messy...” Liam starts in.
“Liam,” Dad silences him.
“Are you from around here?” Dad asks in a tone somewhere between grouchy cop and indifferent schoolteacher. I’m not sure why it matters. If she lives in the town over do we help her, and if she is from far away, leave her? A better question is probably about her ancestry to see if we can start to figure out a DNA combination that survived this thing. But Dad is probably still trying to figure out what to do.
The only pick-up line I have ever given credit comes into my mind. I blurt it out without even thinking. “Hi, my name is Seamus.”
The smile is back and she is walking closer to us. “My name is Sofie. I am so happy to see other people that are alive!” Then she is hugging me and crying and laughing. It feels so good to hold her. But my brain is conflicted. She should feel so good to be alive. Who cares about seeing other people? Worry about yourself.
Until now, I haven’t even thought about what it would be like to go through this alone. What if I had cared for Dad, Grace and Liam as they progressed through coughing into drowning in their own fluids and then death? Would I have carried their bodies out to the back yard and buried them? Would I have left them where they lay and gone off in search of something? How would I have handled it?
For all the times I yelled that I want to be alone or told people to leave me alone, I have never been alone. The few times I have had the chance to be left alone for more than a couple of hours, Grace or Liam have been there, and I didn’t want or ask them to leave. Now the thought of being alone frightens me, and I shudder a little as we break our embrace.
The sound of a shotgun loading snaps me back to reality. Dad is not as relaxed as the rest of us. He doesn’t seem concerned with Sofie but I can tell by his eyes that he thinks something is fishy with the trucks and even Sofie’s motor home.
Without looking at her, Dad asks, “Sofie, was there anyone in that motorhome besides you?” Now we’re all staring, as if looking at the motorhome will give us an answer.
“Just my parents,” she says softly. The way she says it makes me understand that they are dead and will not be walking out the door.
I wish Dad would communicate and tell us what he is looking for, what he is thinking or what he is afraid of. If he thinks he’s doing strong silent type, he’s wrong. Suddenly I wonder if he’s trying to impress Sofie. Mom is alive in California; he’s not free to date just because of the apocalypse. Or maybe Mom isn’t as okay as we thought. Maybe we’ll get a sit-down tonight and Dad will