Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Forty-Ninth Entry: Dance Alone

June 25th

I have to say it, I like it here. Doctor Byron and people of Lovelock have done a great job of recreating the world as it was before. It's not a total recreation; I mean people are wandering around with weapons, and nobody pays for anything with money (in my head I keep hearing Wolf News anchors screaming about communism), but the overall feel is there. The atmosphere is certainly not as fearful as it was in Mallville.

Pippa has started going to school again, and she seems to really like it. She tried to get me to help her with her homework a couple of times, but this stuff is beyond me. I got off the math train after geometry, it's all foreign language to me after that.

I was a little surprised last week to come home and find Pippa using a laptop computer. It wasn't so much that she had one as what she was doing with it that surprised me. Far from doing any sort of homework on it, she was playing a video game, Seventh City Online, an MMO.

“Is that Seventh City?” I asked.


“How are you playing that?” I ask, knowing that the servers had to have gone down with everything else.

“Lovelock has its own server. There's not a lot of players, but then there's not much kill stealing either. It balances out, sort of.”

I guess this makes sense. This is a town originally populated mostly by nerds, so some of them must have used one of those hacks that let you make your own private server. I wonder if I could find a good game of Shadowrun to join?

“How did you get a laptop?” I asked.

“School. It's to do work on, but you know, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

“Is there anything else online?”

“Just local stuff. Nothing outside of town is accessible. I'm afraid your days on Facebook are still over, although there is a local Twitter server.”

“So are you going to share that computer with the rest of us?”

“Mmmmaybe. If you're nice to me,” Pippa answered teasingly.

“I'm not sure if that's worth it then.”

We've not seen very much of Beth these last couple of weeks. She has been in training with Genetitech Security, and has only been home this weekend since she started. She says that things are going really well, but it is wearing her out a little bit.

Gerry has also been gone a lot. He's only been home about one night out of every three, as Lovelock's acquisition runs are multi-day affairs involving truckloads of equipment. I'm sure that by now they are having to go quite far to even find stuff worth taking.

Gerry tells me that they are a lot less discriminating about what they take. They don't go out just looking for food and clothing, but hardware, chemicals, metal, and pretty much anything else not nailed down. He says he's trying to get them to take me on one, but I don't know if I would want to leave Pippa here alone.

As for me, well I've been doing a lot of standing around with the other guards at the gates talking. I don't really fit in with them though. None of them are even remotely geeky and it makes me miss Sharon and Tara just that much more.

Even at home I feel like I'm sort of an outsider. I can hear Beth in my head telling me what bullshit that is, but I don't really think so. Maybe it's just because it's me and Pippa on our own for the most part, and I've felt a little awkward around her ever since the morning after Sharon died.

Of course that is my problem, and I need to get my shit together and not be taking that out on Pippa. I think I understand why Pippa did it in a way that I couldn't at the time, and while it would never cross my mind to do something like that for a number of reasons, she did mean well.

In the time I've been at the gate we have had only one new survivor come in. I guess this is good though since it means that people are still out there, and that us and Alisdair's group are not the only people left in the world. I wish we saw more survivors though, and that we had seen more on our own trip here.

I am on afternoons right now, so basically at the hottest part of the day, working under the supervision of a man named Samit Linde, who was a high school football coach back in the before. He's a nice guy, but his jock and my geek don't mesh all that well. Still we manage to stay friendly.

It was right near the end of our shift at the east gate when one of the spotters, Gordon, called down that something was coming towards us. We readied ourselves and found that the something was a girl on a red bicycle. She had a head full of curly brown hair, and was wearing a pair of motorcycle goggles. Her skin was shiny with sweat.

As she approached, Samit raised his bullhorn and called out to her, “Please get off of the bike, and keep your hands where we can see them.”

The woman slowed to a stop, and got off the bike. She slipped the straps of the bulging camouflaged backpack off of her shoulders and let it drop to the surface of the road. I could see a long black object hanging from a belt holster on her right hip, it looked like a small pick ax.

“Are you going to shoot me?” the woman asked.

“Not unless you give us a reason to,” Samit answers,” Please remove any weapons, and come forward slowly.

The woman reached behind her back and slowly pulled out a pistol (I'm not sure how she thought she would be able to get to it if she needed to with that massive backpack on), and placed it on the ground. She then pulled the black pick-ax looking thing (it's called an Annihilator, I was told later, which is most certainly appropriate) from the loop on her belt, and placed it on the ground next to the gun.

With her hands in the air, the woman started moving towards us, pausing after each step like she was walking down the aisle at a wedding.

“You don't need to walk that slowly,” Samit says.

“And you don't need to keep pointing, what, four, five guns at me? You put down the guns and I might be more inclined to most faster.”

Samit raised his hand to signal the rest of us to lower our weapons. We did, but I still kept my gun half raised, not so much because I thought the woman a risk, but because I want to get into a habit of doing that. I'd hate to get killed because someone outdrew me.

The woman closed the distance between her and Samit, and stopped just beyond his reach, “So, you guys don't really look like soldiers; what is this place?”

“You didn't come here intentionally?”

“I am here intentionally in as far as I don't want to be where I came from, but I wasn't aiming for here specifically. I just got on my bike and headed in the opposite direction of the zombies, you know? It was a hell of a ride too.”

I was a little surprised at how unafraid she seemed of us. Beth, Gerry, Pippa and I handled it pretty well, I think, but we were coming here intentionally. To just stumble upon a guarded roadblock and not seem to even be scared though; I was in awe.

“Well you are safe now. My name is Samit Linde, and this is Lovelock,” Samit motioned behind him with the bullhorn. I think he was trying to be dramatic, but there's nothing really to see past the gate except for road. It's about half a mile to the actual town from there.

“I'm Barbara, Barbabra Rosenberg, and the first person to make that stupid Night of the Living Dead joke gets punched, got it?”she said, looking around at the rest of us as we came out from behind out cover.

Samit grabbed the walkie talkie off of his belt, “Base, this is Linde. I have a newcomer out here. A female, says her name is Barbara Rosenberg.”

“I will alert Doctor Byron. Transport is being dispatched,” replied to woman on the other end.

While we waited for Genetitech Security to come pick up Barbara, Samit gave her the spiel about how her items would be gone through for anything contraband, and would be delivered to her assigned residence. When he was done with that we all introduced ourselves to her. It turns out she's from Montana, and has ridden across two states to end up here. She told us about a large group of zeds that seemed to be moving as a single flock, and how she felt the best place for her to be was somewhere they weren't.

Barbara told us that before the end she was an elementary school teacher, and after the end she was the last survivor amongst her friends. I asked her about the pick ax thing, an that's when she told me the name of it. She said she found it in a hardware store, and that it is meant to be a demolition tool, but with a flat hammer head, a bladed prybar head, and a spike at the bottom of the handle that it works really well on zeds; even better than a normal crowbar. I want one now.

Before security showed up, our shit change came around, and so did Zack with his crew for the evening shift. He pulled up with his five people in a white minivan, and parked it next to the one that Samit would be driving us back to town in.

Getting out of the van, Zack approached us and the newcomer, “Hey, I heard that we had someone new,” he looked at me, “Between your group and her it looks like we may be at the start of a population boom, eh?” then to Barbara, “Name's Zackariah, but everyone just called me Zach.”

“I'm Barbara, Barbara Rosenberg.”

“Oooh,“ Zack exclaimed, and then in what was meant to be an eerie voice “They're coming to get you, Barbara.”

Barbara is quick; I guess when you deal with grade schoolers for a living you have to be. Before anyone could stop her she had lashed out with her right fist and socked Zack in the face. I don't know if she just hit that hard, he's that bad in a fight, or he was just taken by surprise, but the hit caused him to stagger back, lose his balance, and fall on his ass on the surface of the road.

“What the hell?” Zack asked, more confused than angry, as Samit, and a couple of the others ushered Barbara away from him.

Despite that incident, it looks like Barbara will be staying here in Lovelock, at least for awhile. I saw her around earlier tonight.

In one of her many attempts to create a sense of normalcy and community here in Lovelock, Doctor Byron has a dance held at the high school once a month. I went tonight, but only because I was forced to.

I was sitting at home this afternoon reading when I heard the front door open. Pippa was in her room using her laptop, and Gerry was in the shower having just gotten home from an acquisition run that had lasted three days. At first I didn't realize who it would be coming through the door.

“Hey, is anybody here?” I heard Beth's voice call.

I heard the door to Pippa's room slam open, and the thundering of teenaged feet as she ran through the house, “Beth!” she cried.

I head Beth say “Oomph!” as Pippa undoubtedly pounced on her.

I rose from my chair in front of the empty fireplace, and went to the front door to find Pippa and Beth hugging, “Do you two want some privacy?” I asked.

Pippa released Beth, “Perv!” she yelled at me, “So are you done now?” she asked Beth.

“No, but I am off for the weekend. I have to report back on Monday,” Beth said, sliding a blue gym bag off of her shoulder and dropping it onto the entryway floor, “So what are we up to? Were you going to the dance tonight?”

“I am!” Pippa shouted, “I have a date!”I think that moment is the happiest I've seen Pippa look since I've met her. She looked even happier than when we found the record collection.

I raised an eyebrow, “A date?” I asked, “That's the first I've heard of that.”

“I didn't know I was required to tell you,” Pippa said, a little snottily, “You'll meet him at the dance tonight anyway. Gerry's going to.”

“Sounds great, I'd better go and start getting ready then,” then Beth looked at me, “You're going, right?”

“I thought I'd skip it this time,” I answered.

“You will not! All you do is sit around this house and work.”

“How do you know? You haven't even been here.”

Beth just looked me in the eyes, “Tell me I'm wrong.”

“You're not, but I still don't want to go. It'll just be depressing. I don't want to dance alone.”

“You'll dance with me then,” Beth said.

“What about Gerry?”

“What about Gerry? You guys can share me if you want. It's just dancing.”

“I can't dance,” I said, basically just making excuses now.

“I've seen you dance, and no you can't, but you manage.”

“Beth, I don't-”

“So it's settled. Go get ready,” Beth said and gave me a quick hug while whispering, “Don't make me kick your ass.”

Beth grabbed up her gym bag again and smiled, “I've missed you guys,” she said, and headed for her bedroom.

So with that settled I went back to my room and tried to find my least smeggy things to wear. I decided on a black button up over a grey t-shirt and jeans. I'm eventually going to have to find some nicer clothes if I am going to keep up the illusion of living in civilization again.

I stood there alone in my room for awhile looking at the relics of Tara and Sharon. I wish they were here, then I would have someone to dance with. I held Tara's Christmas present and Sharon's glasses in my hands for awhile until it felt like a small black hole was forming in my chest. I probably would have sat there all night if Gerry hadn't knocked on the door then.

“Come on man, we're leaving, and Beth says if she has to come get you, you'll be sorry.”

I placed the items back on their shelves, took a deep breath, plastered a smile on my face, and opened the door. I must not have been as convincing looking as I had hoped I was.

“You okay?” Gerry asked when he saw me.

“Yeah, I'm just not really looking forward to this. The last dance I went to was prom, and that was with Sharon. We sat there and made fun of people for most of the nights, and she spent probably as much time dancing with other guys as with me. It ended with her getting drunk and puking out the side of the limo.”

“Sounds magical,” Gerry said.

“It was,” I said, “I have always kind of regretted it as a wasted opportunity though.”

“Well no more wasted opportunities for us! Beth wants to dance, and we need to see what kind of a boy Pippa is dating.”

“Are you drunk?” I asked.

“No! No!” Gerry protested, “Well maybe a little.”

The dance was a fairly no frills affair. There was a fog machine and lots of flashy lights, but none of the paper streamers or balloons one expects from an old fashioned high school dance (or at least the way TV shows used to portray them). There was a table with a big bowl of fresh lemonade though, and that was quite quite awesome.

The gym was crowded, I swear that half the town was there. I found Beth, Gerry, and myself some seats off to one side of the gym as soon as we got there. Beth had no intention of letting me sit though.

“Get your ass onto the dance floor!” Beth ordered.

“Beth, no..”

“Yes, dance with me, dammit! I want to talk to you,” and then to Gerry she said, “and if you don't find someone to dance with I'm coming back for you next!”

Beth dragged me, quite literally, onto the dance floor. The music was some fast-paced funky song that I've never head before, and I was able to find the rhythm pretty quickly and settle into that dance where your feet never leave the floor and you basically are just swinging your arms and hips.

“So how are you doing?” Beth asked me over the din of the music.

“I'm doing okay, I guess. You?”

“I'm great! It's so great to be back into a disciplined routine, and you should see the weapons they get to use. Kaur would have sold his left nut for this stuff.”

“Wow,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“So have you met anyone yet?”

“I've met lots of people.”

“Any prospects?”

“You mean a relationship? No! I'm not looking for that.”

“Why not?”

“It's not even two months!” I exclaimed, getting angry now, “Why do you even care?”

“Because I care about you. You're a good guy, and you deserve to be happy.”

“I was happy.”

“I know, and someday you'll be happy again. No one is ever going to replace Sharon or Tara, but you do have a place in your heart for someone, and if you refuse to look for that someone yourself, I'm going to help you.” Beth smiled, but there was a wicked twinkle in her eye. Suddenly she was looking past me into the distance, “Hey, who is that that Gerry's talking to?”

I looked, and saw that Gerry had gone over to the drinks table and was chatting up none other than, “Barbara Rosenberg; she's new in town. I hope Gerry doesn't make any Night of the Living Dead jokes.”

“Oh, is she the one that popped Zack Hutchins? I heard about that; she gave him a black eye.”

“Yeah, she's quick.”

“She's kinda cute,” Beth said thoughtfully, “I mean I'm not digging the whole Little Orphan Annie hair thing, butshe's cute. I met his wife, you know? Margaret, she's nice, but she works with a pair of maniacs. They are building something that looks like a go-kart with helicopter blades on it. The younger guy, Grant, he says it's for sending into large groups of zeds. I would love to see it in action.”

“You seem really relaxed,” I observed.

“You think so? Maybe it's just that I feel we're safe now, you know? I've got a family in you guys, and a home, and a job again. Maybe I just feel like I am whole again.”

“Or maybe Gerry shared his stash of booze with you?”

“Maybe that too, yeah.”

The song ended and a really slow version of Beyond the Sea started. I took a step to leave the dance floor, but Beth grabbed my sleeve and yanked me back, “Where are you going?”

“To sit. The song ended, so it's Gerry's turn, remember?”

“It would be rude of me to interrupt his conversation. You'll just have to keep on dancing.”

“It's a slow song.”

“I don't have cooties,“ Beth pulled me close, “Just keep your hand on my back, okay?”

“Beth,” I whined.

“Don't make me lead.”

I put my arms around Beth, and held her at as great a length as I could manage, but she pulled me against her, and we started to sway back and forth.

“This is making me uncomfortable,” I said.

“It shouldn't. There's no reason you cannot dance with me. Nothing is ever going to happen between us; I promise.”

“I'm not sure that makes me feel any better.”

Beth laughed, “Hey, is that Pippa over there?” she pointed across the gym.

Yes, it was Pippa and she was dancing with her boyfriend. I felt my blood surge a little bit seeing the guy holding her in his arms. He was one of those greasy little slicky boys with close shaved hair and the weak moustache that makes it look like he's been drinking used motor oil.

“You want to loosen up a little?” Beth asked, pulling away from me, “You hold me any tighter and we're going to combine into one person.”

I hadn't realized how tightly I was holding her then, and loosened my grip, “Sorry.”

“So what was that? Is that the big brother wanting to protect his little sister, or was that just jealousy?”

“Okay, not funny. You know I don't have feelings like that for her.”

“I also know it gets you worked up,” Beth said with another laugh, “I'm sorry, I shouldn't be being so mean to you.”

I sighed, “No, it's okay. I think you're helping actually.”


“Yes. Thanks for putting up with me.”

We danced together for the next four or five songs in silence. It both felt good to hold Beth in my arms, but at the same time it made me miss Tara and Sharon even more. It should have been one of them in my arms, not Beth. We should have all made it to Lovelock together.

I noticed during the last song that we danced, “I'm Too Sexy”, that Gerry and Barbara had started dancing together. They both looked like they were having a good time together. I'm happy for him. I'm not sure what exactly there was between him and Maria, but if he can move past that, then I am truly happy for him.

Of course that does leave me as the only one of us still waiting for the next shoe to drop, but then I've always been a worrier (or whiner as Beth puts it) anyway. Maybe I should put those things away. Tara's books, and that Darth Vader head; Sharon's sword, and glasses, and the little ape. I don't know if I can do it though.

When “I'm Too Sexy” ended, Beth finally relented and lead me off the dance floor over to the refreshments table. She grabbed a lemonade and handed it to me, and then took a cup for herself.

“So how are you feeling?” Beth asked.

“Lonely,” I answered honestly.

Beth frowned and sighed, “What am I going to do with you?”

“Give up on me and let me be miserable in peace?”

“Not a chance,” she smiled.

Someone spoke our names from behind us, and we turned to see what I first thought was a ghost. But the flowing white figure was not a spirit; it was Doctor Byron dressed in a long white dress with a flowing white shawl that combined with her pale skin and hair to make her have more than a passing resemblance to Casper.

“Doctor Byron,” exclaimed Beth, “I did not expect to see you here.”

“I always put in an appearance at the dances, Beth. It would be very hypocritical of me not to,” Doctor Byron took a sip from the cup of lemonade in her hand, “I hear your training is going well. It sounds like you will be an asset to the division.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Beth replied, smiling.

“Evie, please. And how are you adjusting to your job?” Doctor Byron asked me.

“It's a lot of standing around and talking, but it certainly beats being on the road.”

“I'm sure that it does,” Doctor Byron agreed, “but don't underestimate the importance of it. Not only are you our first line of defense against the animated corpses, but you are one of the first faces that newcomers see when they first come here; like Barbara over there,” Doctor Byron motioned in the direction of where Barbara and Gerry were still dancing.

“Of course, ma'am, I'm sorry.”

“No need to apologize, I just want you to know that you are appreciated. Everyone here needs to know that they are both important and appreciated,“ Doctor Byron said, “lthough I do still think you should talk to a counselor about what you have been through.”

“Everyone's been through the same stuff, Doctor.”

“True and untrue. While we have all experienced the same or similar events, we all have experienced them differently; we have all been effected by them differently. There is no reason to be ashamed for needing to talk about it. Still, I will not force you,” Doctor Byron took another sip from her lemonade, and started to walk away, “Have a good time, you two.”

“You want to dance some more?“ Beth asked.

“Actually, can we go get some air?”

“Sure, let's go,” Beth threw an arm around me, not like a lover, but like a friend, and we went outside.

Once in the warm summer night air Beth released me, and took a deep breath in and let it out in a contented sigh, “For the first time I really feel like things are going to work out for us.”

“I wish I felt that way.”

“I wish you did too, but we're not going to give up on you; Sharon would be mad at me if we did”

“Is that why you're doing this?”

“I promised Sharon that I would make sure you're okay, and you're not yet. Until you are okay, you're stuck with me.”

“So I'm a pity case?” I asked.

“No, stop that! You're-”

A voice cut Beth off; Pippa's voice, “Richard, I said no!”

“Pippa?” I said to Beth, and she nodded, her body tensing.

Beth and I quietly, but quickly, moved in the direction of Pippa's voice.

“Richard, stop it! I'm not ready!”

Coming around a pair of large shrubs we found Pippa and her boyfriend, Richard, sitting on a relatively secluded bench. Richard was kissing her neck while trying to slide a hand up under her pink skirt. Pippa was using both her hands to try and push his away.

“Come on, Pippa, just for a little bit.”

“No, stop!”

Richard didn't stop; instead he used his free hand to try and pull her hands away from her own lap and into his. Pippa groaned and struggled.

I felt rage build up inside me, and I stormed forward. Far from trying to stop me, Beth was right behind me. I got to the bench first, and Pippa saw me coming, “What are-”

Before Pippa could finish her question, I had Richard by the back of his shoulders, and yanked him off of Pippa and off of the bench, “Hey man!” Richard squawked as I spun him around to face me. I shoved him backwards.

Richard stumbled back right into Beth's waiting arms. She caught him, and the shoved him back to me. I caught him by the front of his shirt, and pulled it upward to bring him closer to my face, “The young lady said no,” I growled in what I think was pretty passable as menacing.

“Fuck you!” Richard said defiantly.

I had a good grip on him, and started walking, half pushing, half dragging him as I went. I shoved him through the bushes, onto the sidewalk that rings the gym building, and hard against the wall of the gym, “If I ever see you near Pippa again, my friend over there is going to make earrings out of your testicles.”

Beth came up beside us, and pulled out a pocket knife (from where, I do not know since her dress didn't appear to have pockets). She waved it in the air a little while she smiled. I'm not totally sure, but I think Richard may have pissed himself at this point.

“The next time a girl says no, you should listen, Dick,” Beth said, and her voice was oily and tinged with humor.

I pulled Richard away from the wall, and knocked him back into it again, “Now get out of here, and try to enjoy the rest of your evening.” I released his shirt, and he nearly collapsed to the ground.

Richard regains his balance, and quickly ran away, rounding the side of the gym and going out of sight.

I turned to Pippa who was still sitting on the bench, “Are you okay?”

“You asshole! That's my fucking boyfriend!” Pippa yelled, rising from the bench.

“Your fucking boyfriend needs to learn the meaning of the word 'no',” I said evenly.

“Your fucking boyfriend needs to learn some respect,” Beth added.

“Oh my God! Why do you hate me?” Pippa shrilled, and it was like she had slapped me in the face.

All the rage had drained out of me in an instant, “I don't hate you.”

“Then why are you so mean to me? Why do you avoid me? You won't spend any time with me, and now Richard's never going to talk to me again, and he's gonna tell everyone I live with a couple of psychos! I hate you, you're ruining my life!”

Pippa turned and ran off into the darkness.

“I'll go talk to her, okay?” Beth said.

“Yeah, sure, “ I said, feeling stunned.

“It's okay,” Beth reassured me, “You did what any good big brother would do. It's hard raising teenagers.” She smiled at me, and then ran after Pippa.

I stood there for awhile before walking home. I couldn't get over what Pippa said, “Why do you hate me?” Did she mean it? Did she really think I hate her? I will admit that I have kind of been avoiding her while it's been just the two of us in the house, and I really cannot explain why that is.

When I got home I went to my room and lay down without even changing. I lay there in the dark staring at where I knew Sharon and Tara's things were even though I could not actually see them; I laid there and felt sorry for myself.

Beth is right, I know she is. Sharon wouldn't want me to be like this, and neither would Tara. They would want me to try to go on with my life. I know all this, but I still can't seem to shake myself of these feelings. I don't want to try to get into a new relationship; I couldn't bear losing someone else.

Maybe that's the real reason I've been pushing Pippa away. Not because of the incident in bed, but because I'm afraid of growing too attached to her? It certainly makes more sense... and makes me feel like less of a pedo.

I lay there struggling with those thoughts for a couple of hours before I heard the front door open and close at around eleven. I didn't go out to greet them. I could hear the three of them talking, but couldn't make out what they were saying.

About twenty minutes after that there was a knock on my door, “Are you in there?” Pippa asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “you can come in if you want, but leave the light off.”

The door opened, and light from the hallway illuminated the room for a moment before Pippa closed it behind her.

“Why are you sitting in the dark?” Pippa asked.

“I'm thinking.”

“What about?”

“Things. Me. Us. What kind of life it is I am leading.”

“Can I sit?”


I felt Pippa sit down on what, for the lack of a better word, I shall call my bed. She crawled up next to me, and lay there, “I don't hate you,” she said.

“I don't hate you either.”

“I know. I'm sorry I said that stuff. I know you were trying to help me out. Richard was being a creep. You only did it because you love me.”

“Did Beth tell you to say that?”

“No, but she did point it out to me. She must be getting old, it took her two blocks to catch up to me,” Pippa giggled.

“Well you did have a head start, and she was wearing heels.”

“So why have you been avoiding me if you don't hate me.”

“That's what I have been thinking about.”

“Is it because I call you a pervert?”

“No. I don't think of you that way.”

“Then why?”

“I think it's because I'm afraid I'll feel too connected to you, and if something were to happen to you I wouldn't be able to cope. If I keep you at a distance, like Maria, I won't be hurt as much.”

“You're afraid something will happen to me like it did to Sharon?”

I shrugged in the blackness, “I think that might be part of it, yeah.”

“What if I promise that nothing will happen to me?”

“Don't make promises you can't keep,” I said, “but I will try to not push you away anymore; just don't do things that make me feel creepy.”

I felt Pippa reach an arm across me in the dark, and hug me, “You don't like feeling like a pervert?”

“This would be exactly the sort of thing I mean,” I answered.

Pippa didn't let me go, instead said, “I miss Sharon.”

“So do I, Pippa, every single day. Her and Tara both.”

“Was Tara nice? You made her sound kind of bitchy.”

“She was. I don't think I do her justice on paper. I think you would have liked her too.”

“I wish I could have known her.”

“I wish you could have too,” I said, “You need to stop reading my journal though.”

“I like reading it. I makes me feel like I knew you and Sharon before. It helps me understand you when you won't talk to me.”

“It's private, Pippa. I'm not writing it for anyone but myself... at least not for anyone else until I'm gone.”

Pippa didn't reply.

We lay there for a long time in silence, and I again was left to my thoughts of how I had wasted time with someone I care about because of my own stupidity. That ends though; I'm going to spend more time with Pippa, and we're going to be more like a proper family. I will not push her away anymore, I will not make her have to sneak in to this book to try and understand me better.

I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew it was four in the morning and she was gone. I'm glad she didn't sleep in here with me, I would not want to put up with the crap that something like that would get me from Beth and Gerry. I'm glad that Pippa came to talk to me though; I may have kept acting like an ass until it was too late otherwise.

It's about five-thirty now, and I think I'm going to try and get some more sleep. First I am going to put away those things. I can keep my memories, my artifacts, of Sharon and Tara without needing to see them every time I open my eyes. I'm not getting rid of them, and I'm not forgetting the two women who loved me, but I'm not going to live in the past either. Of course I'm not going out looking for love either; it's just way too soon for that.

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