Sometimes, I'd like to remember the past.
It was a torturous process, but it took my mind off of what was going on right now. After all, there was no better escape than what one's already lived. Might as well live it again.
Of course, I wished that I could change some of the outcomes. But oh.... That was what everyone wanted nowadays.
If I closed my eyes and tried to think of the rain, I could almost recall it exactly. The moon was high overhead and the smell of rain and freshly cut grass was overwhelming. We hid under a gazebo to avoid getting wet. People had been getting sick a lot lately and it seemed like there was no exact reason why. She was scared to be out.
"We could get caught," she whispered, trembling. "Or sick."
I put my finger to her lips. "That's nothing to worry about. If we're caught, so be it. We can run. If we get sick, it'll be nothing more than the flu from being in the rain."
She was reassured but still on edge. Her hair was damp and in wavy clusters from running here. I pulled a blanket out of my backpack and wrapped it around the two of us.
"You're probably wondering why I asked you to come out here."
She nodded but looked at me with a certain kind of intensity that I'd never really seen in her eyes before. Of course, there had been tantalizing sparks of it. Glints of the beautiful soul just trying to come out. And now, here it was. I took in a deep breath.
"Priscilla, with everything that's been going on, I've been clinging onto you more and more. And the same for you. I need you, I really do." I paused. "I have to know. Do you need me? Or is this all just in my head?"
For a moment all I could hear was the wind blowing against the shanty structure of the gazebo and the rusty swingsets in the park flapping back and forth.
"I do," she whispered.
"I brought you out here because this is where I first met you. Do you remember that day? I was seven... It was a warm sunny day. I'd had this little Siberian tiger stuffed animal and was making it go down the slide. And you came up from behind me and you grabbed that little stupid toy and threw it all the way to the sandbox. You said, 'why are you playing with that dumb thing when you could be playing with me?' and it was the strangest thing I had ever heard.
We both laughed. "But you know, eventually I gave up on that little tiger toy. And I did go to play with you. I remember when you tried to teach me how to do a cartwheel and I fell and broke my wrist."
"I'm telling you, you twisted it wrong," she said laughingly.
"I wasn't ever cut out to be a great cheerleader like you, you know. More the person who sits on the side and cheers obnoxiously."
"Lord knows you do that,"
I smiled. "But you know, it was all worth it. Because maybe if I hadn't fallen, maybe if you hadn't takenthat toy from me, I might not have been able to do this."
I got down on one knee. "Priscilla Mae Jacobs, will you spend the rest of your life with me? Will you marry me?"
I held up the little blue velvet box and opened it up. Inside of it was my great-grandmother's engagement ring. It was a bright blue sapphire that was big enough to almost look fake. It was probably worth over a hundred thousand dollars by now. And I bet that old woman was rolling over in her grave because she died still believing same-sex marriage was a sin. But I didn't care. I loved this woman in front of me and to hell with all others who opposed to it.
Her eyes filled with tears. She gave me a watery smile and covered her mouth, silencing the sobs that I hoped were of happiness. "Yes," she cried. "Oh my god, Hayden, yes!"
I put the ring on her finger and I cried a little, too. Maybe some part of me knew that this was the closest we would ever get to really getting married. Maybe I knew that her parents wouldn't truly approve. Maybe I knew that it was going to be living hell for us for the next few weeks. But right then, it didn't matter.
I look up at the moon so high overhead right now and I can feel myself choking up again. Even though that was one of the happiest moments of my life, there's still that burning fear in my chest that that night was what caused her to turn.
No, the virus hadn't been released yet. But by the time that it had come around, her family had disowned her. She said she didn't care, that they never really liked her much anyways. She said that if they couldn't accept our love then she couldn't accept them. But when it did hit, we tried going to them. They had made a safe house shelter in the woods. It was expertly built; I know because before they disowned her, her father had shown me the blue prints. It could withstand three bombs, even, and only the top level would be harmed.
We risked our lives going out there. The streets were in a panic as people attempted to save themselves from the oncoming storm. It was then that I had to kill the first person. A man wild with fear had tried to hijack the car. He stabbed Priscilla in the side with a steak knife. And I shot him.
The memory makes me recoil with repulsion. I can remember all too vividly how the blood bloomed like a flower from his chest and spurred at me. I remember the way his eyes rolled back into his head. The unbearable warmth of his blood on my hands. Thinking of it makes me want to vomit. But I remember that we had made her a tourniquet out of an old t-shirt to staunch the flow. It wasn't deep, but it looked awful. And it certainly couldn't have felt pleasant.
I remember standing outside that great metal fortress, begging. They were watching us from a surveillance camera while they were somewhere safe inside. I pleaded for them to at least let her in.
"She's hurt!" I screamed, tears rushing down my face. "Please, please, just help her."
I hated the lack of response. The look of desperation and anger on Priscilla's face. She was wounded physically and emotionally. Her family refused her even in times like these.
"Please, just let her in. You don't have to take me, but please. Help her. Save her."
And then came that awful mechanical buzzing sound as they opened the doors. Metal on metal screeched and her father walked out. His face was stone cold, his body movement rigid.
"Don't you ever come back here." he said in a flat voice. He tossed out a large bag of supplies, even a couple of weapons.
Priscilla broke down into sobs as I picked up the bag and led her away from the shelter. As the doors closed, I turned to look back one last time. One day, I would get revenge on them for hurting her.
A little while later and we were paranoid and desperate. My father called me to see if I was still alive. He founded strange; it was as if he knew this was going to happen. Then he told me to get as many supplies as we could manage and board a train to California. He said that this part of the country hadn't been hit yet, that it was safe. He told me that he and some others had built a shelter of their own and that we and any others we could find were welcome.
I don't think he expected me to be the only one to make it there alive.
When he called, he didn't know that the trains and flights out to California were packed. There were so many crashes and bombing from people so desperate to get on and escape the pending death that they would rather commit mass suicide than wait. He didn't know that when we got on the train, in the back, there was a man who had been lightly bitten. Or that when we got off the train, he turned. He got as many people as he could. Innocent, unarmed people that couldn't fight him off. And in the chaos of trying to get away, Priscilla was pulled away from me.
No matter how loud I screamed, how fast I ran, I couldn't find her. I waited three days in the area. I went out every day and every night, searching for her. I called her cell phone. I pleaded survivors for information. Had they seen her? Had they helped her into somewhere safe? Was she alive? But no one knew.
Finally I knew there was no point in searching anymore. I had found all the survivors in the area. No one knew. No one was willing to abandon the safe areas they had created to come with me. They didn't trust me. They were scared. I didn't blame them.
And though I was tempted to kill myself, to go out into the swarms of zombies and be torn limb from limb, I left. I don't know why I didn't end my life right then and there. And I wish I knew why. Because as I sit out here on the roof, I don't understand why I'm alive. Why I risked it all. Why I risked a life that I had no claim to, even though it was done in love. I deserve to die but yet here I am, about to be forced to live for the rest of humanity.
And it's not fair.