Chapter 35

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I stepped into the cool and crisp morning air. The sun was low but the sky was bright. People bustled around in their jobs, everyone pays their way. I guess I'll be given some job soon. They probably want to leave me alone for awhile. I sighed and pulled the grey hoodie tighter to my body.

I jogged down the footpaths, not exactly sure where I was going until I landed on the doorstep of the house Jo had brought to me yesterday. I politely knocked on the wooden door and waited until someone answered. A woman, maybe around forty, opened the door for me. She had an unruly mop of dark brown hair and a kind smile.

"I'm Maryse! You must be Lauren, oh, you're just gorgeous!" She cooed.

I laughed and thanked her.
"Where's Jo?"

She smiled knowingly.
"He's in his room, first door on the right."

I nodded and proceeded through the tidy house. Jo was flooped out on his bed with a book of some sort infront of him.

"Um.. hi? You wanna go for a walk?"


"I'm sorry about yesterday.. it's just this stuff with Carl is too much." I sighed, walking down the steps of Jo's house.

Jo frowned and ran a hand through his messy brown hair.
"I can talk to him if you'd like."

I answered quickly.
"No, no. It's fine. I really want to hate him, it's just so hard. We have such a history."

Jo nodded absently and I sighed.
"Is there anywhere we can go where people don't look at me weirdly?"

Jo smiled and led me behind the clinic where a small garden lay. It would have been someones back yard at one point. An ornate black metal bench stood in the far right corner of the garden surrounded by a few lonely flowers that refused to die.

"Thanks Jo." I said quietly, twisting a lock of my brown hair between my fingertips.

"Do you remember what life was like before all this?" He mumbelled.

I stared up at the bright blue sky and sighed.
"I didn't have much of a life before all this, I had my best friend, but she's gone."

"How did you meet Carl?, if you don't mind me asking." Jo smiled, revealing those cute dimples.

"Well, I was scouting out a gas station for supplies but another group was there, they got overrun and left a baby behind. I saved her and eventually found the group. I followed them for awhile then returned Judith to them. I found out she was Carl's sister. I then went with them to a prison, once that was taken we were all split. Carl, Judith and I were alone. We holed up at a house. That's some of the story.."

"When did you find out that you loved him?"

"The moment he gave me his mothers ring." I sighed and rubbed the empty spot on my ring finger. Why did he have to ask about Carl? There is no escaping him.

I sat back in the bench and stared out to the pale blue sky above me. Is there an escape from this world?

"Lauren!" I heard a voice yell and Carl appeared from around the corner.

"Is there no escaping you? You're everywhere!" I fumed and stared Carl dead in the eyes. Jo looked awkward, but ready to protect me if he needed to.

"Lauren please hear me out! I love you! Please, I'm not going to give up, never. You can't deny you still love me, Lauren." Carl protested and Jo rose from where he was sitting. Carl stared at him with hate-filled eyes and if I didn't say something soon, one of them would launch at the other.

"I wasted six months searching for you, Carl. We made a promise didn't we? If you loved me you would have never looked at her like that." I stated blandly.

"I didn't look at her like that! You know what? When she kissed me for a split second I imagined you back in my arms. I imagined you. Then I pushed her away, but obviously you didn't see that. I told her I don't like her like that, and now I don't like her at all. Please." His eyes were filled with grief and longing.

"I need to get out of here." I inhaled and exhaled in an attempt to calm myself.

"I'm not going to give up until I win you back. Never. Until the end I will love you." Carl just wouldn't give in. Jo held him back and I walked away. Not allowing myself to look back.

"Tell me you don't love me." Carl finished and my heart twisted. I want to tell him I hate him, I want to, but I can't. I can't hate him because I am so in love with him it hurts. I can't go back to him. I can't love him. I need to help myself.

I stopped myself and then walked on, leaving Carl and Jo behind. I couldn't answer him, but I could get as far away from this place as my legs could take me. I found myself back at Carol's house. I pushed open the door and threw my machete on the hallway floor with a groan before proceeding into the kitchen where I was greeted by Carol and an unknown woman.

"Hello, Lauren. I'm Joan, and I'm the leader of this fine town."

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