I just wanted you to know that I did 81 pushups (well, the knee kind) in a row today. Yesterday. Thursday, whatever. It's worth writing home about.
This is the second part of that one story. Remember?
And there was still a part of me that questioned it, a part of me that wondered if we would want to be there, when the supplies started running out. Did we want to be here now? I had thought that I did, thought that I would be one of the few, one of the fighters.
I'm not sure about that, not any more.
The first to go was an old man. He talked a lot. We all talked a lot in the beginning, but his was different. While the rest of us were trying to decide what to do, where to go, if anyone else was alive, he was telling us about his family. He was talking about people, his people. He was talking like they were still alive, like he was going to see them soon.
One night, we were sleeping in the woods, in lean-to's, before we found our tents. We heard rustling in the trees, but we didn't think anything of it. There were still enough animals out there that it wasn't surprising.
No one was shocked when they heard the gunshots. We just hadn't realized that he had a gun.
There were two others who hanged themselves, only a day apart. That was after we had stopped walking all together, and started keeping our own pace, a snake stretched a mile long. They just couldn't handle being alone, I think.
After that, there was one more. Yesterday, or it could have been the day before, a short woman who I'd never heard speak (except maybe to the one who was first to go) took a bit of tubing out of her pack, sucked some gasoline out of an abandoned car, and lit herself on fire.
I realized how much we hand changed when non of us even looked shocked.
That was when I asked myself if I still wanted to be around.
There were seven of us left. We didn't speak. We hadn't spoken since the first one to go. We didn't know each other's names. I had given them nicknames in my head. The weird, kinda crazy guy who had appointed himself to be the leader, he was Alpha. The skinny guy who hadn't looked like he would last two days when we started out was DeadMeat. All one word. The little one was Diva, because you could tell that she had been one before the incident. She was having trouble adjusting, I could tell, but no one said anything. I wasn't sure that any of us even remembered how to talk. Doesn't the brain just lose the pieces that it doesn't need? Maybe that had happened, maybe we all had words, but no speech. The other girl, the incredibly plain one, she was Wall. I was working on a better name, that wasn't really sufficient. There was another guy who had started out our journey just as horrible as we all did now. His name was Skid. And then there was Raw, who only did things in the excess. He would run fast and then walk incredibly slowly. I might have hated him for it, if I had the energy to hate anyone right now. We didn't have the time to hate any more. There weren't enough people to hate any more. One would have thought that we were better people now than we were before, but I knew that wasn't it. We had just become different...now...that...everything...
I fell asleep, finally. And I dreamed. I never used to dream. I'd go through life, hearing about the way things were in this other dimension. I was jealous, no, more curious about what it was like to dream. What would it be like, dreaming, I asked myself when I went to sleep.
I have dreams now. I have dreams that aren't so much dreams as they're memories escaping, flashes of emotion that I don't want to feel. Fights, disasters, anger, failure. I always dream about things that make me feel like that, make me feel worthless. I'm afraid that I'm dreaming them wrong sometimes, that I was originally a horrible person before, not just the bad person I thought that I was. I wonder how much my memories are addled now. These are the only memories I have, really. Even if I try, I can never remember my past while I'm awake. Maybe it's amnesia, maybe it's because of the bomb, maybe it's self-defence. I don't think I'll ever know why, and I don't think that I'll ever be able to remember while I'm awake.
Before the bomb, I always thought that the cure for all of my issues would be more time to think. If I just had time to look at all of my memories, all my past laid out to examine everything and see where I've gone wrong. Then fix things, obviously.
I've had time to think, now. Not about my past, but about life and decisions and just about everything that was making me crazy.
Surprise surprise, that's not how it worked out. When I had the opportunity to stop and think about everything, things just got worse. Thinking made me into a different person than I'd been before it happened. Thinking about things, it made me kind of deep. I was never deep before. I was thoughtless, and while things may not have been good, they were better, weren't they? Or was it just in my head, a sick kind of nostalgia? I hate that I'll never know.
But I'll get used to it, I know I will. I'll eventually be okay with the fact that I don't know what the future holds, that I don't know enough of my past. It will just take time.
That, I realized, is what we have in common. We're broken. We were broken from the start, but the bomb tore down all the curtains, let everyone see just how broken and messed up we really were.
And that was fine.