After a while of walking in silence, we happened upon an old abandoned house.
“Think they could be in there?” I whispered, staring at the dilapidated house.
He glanced down at me. “Only one way to find out.”
Daryl held his crossbow at the ready as he kicked open the door. I followed behind as he checked the rooms for any sort of life.
“Hey, look at this,” I whispered, staring into a trash can in the kitchen. I held up a recently opened can of tuna.
Daryl looked at it, and then held his finger to his lips indicating I should be quiet. He pointed his crossbow at what looked to be the pantry door and crept over to it, before flinging the door open. Once the door was open, I could see a blanket and a pillow shoved underneath the shelves. Daryl looked over at me and our eyes connected.
“Someone’s been here.”
“C’mon, need to check out the back,” He said making his way to the back door. I quickly followed praying to God that we’d find my brother or Carol’s little girl.
As we made our way into the back yard, Daryl started calling out Sophia’s name. Straying from his side, I, too, started calling for my brother and Sophia. “Riley, Sophia! Y’all out here?”
Soon I heard Daryl stop yelling. “You find something?” I asked as I noticed him bent over some bushes.
“It’s a Cherokee rose. The story is when American soldiers were movin’ Indians off their land on the trail of tears, the Cherokee mother’s were grievin’ and cryin’ so much cause they were losin’ their little ones ‘long the way; exposure, disease, starvation. A lot of ‘em just disappeared. So the elders said a prayer. Asked for a sign to uplift the mother’s spirit, strength, hope. Next day, this rose grew right where the mother’s tears fell.” He plucked the flower from its stem and held it in his grimy hands.
“I like that story. Think it applies to siblings as well?” I asked noticing the vast contrast between his hands and the white flower.
He was silent for a while, us both just watching the flower in his hands. “I don’t think there’s one bloomin’ for my brother, but I believe this one bloomed for your little brother.”
He reached over and placed the flower in my hand. I smiled, holding back tears. “Thanks,” I said, smiling up at him. I watched as he plucked another flower and then motioned to leave. We walked a few minutes in silence as I held the small flower in my hands. I ran my fingers over its soft petals before I decided to speak up. “You lost your brother?”
I watched as the muscles in his arms and back tensed. “Yea, we got separated,” His southern voice spoke in a tone saying he didn’t want to talk about it.
“I’m sorry, but I’m sure you’ll find him,” I said.
He didn’t say anything, just continued walking back to the farm. It was a while before we reached the farm. The entire trip was in silence. I continued playing with the flower that Daryl gave me thinking about the story behind it. As we made our way into camp, I headed straight for the tent I shared with my savior. I expected him to follow, but he didn’t.
“Where you going?” I asked him.
“To the RV.” He didn’t even turn around, just kept walking.
I nodded even though I knew he couldn’t see, and continued on to the tent.
I placed my knife in its holster before stepping inside. Once inside, I placed the flower on my bag and then walked out. I headed over to some of the others that were hanging around camp.
“Hey, Glenn!” I called as I walked up beside him.
“Hey, Chelsea,” He greeted.
“Do anything interesting today?” I questioned. Even though I barely knew him, I already considered Glenn a friend.
“Almost became walker bait and went on a run with Maggie.” He said, nodding.
“Almost became walker bait? Maggie?” I questioned.
“Oh right you haven’t met Hershel and his family. Maggie’s his daughter along with Beth. Maggie’s the one with short brown hair. Then there’s Patricia and Jimmy. And the walker bait part. Well there was a walker stuck in the well so they decided to send me down to try and get a rope around it so we could pull it up and the rope holding me up slipped and I almost became walker food.”
“Oh my goodness! Are you ok?” I asked looking him over for any signs of injury.
He just laughed and smiled, “I’m fine, Chelsea. I promise. So how’d your day with Daryl go?”
“It was good. We found an old abandoned house where someone small has been staying. No sign of them though. Hopefully it was Riley or Sophia.”
Glenn nodded in agreement. “Hey, what did you mean this morning when you said he knows how to survive out there?” He questioned as Daryl joined the small group who was sat around for supper.
Glenn and I took a seat on the ground close to the chair that Daryl had claimed.
“Exactly what I said. I was always the tom boy growing up so I was into hunting and all that stuff. So when Riley came along, I taught him everything I knew. He knows how to stay quiet, look for food or water, and how to defend himself.” I answered.
We continued talking about anything and everything as we the sun finally set behind the trees and the moon rose. I could feel Daryl’s eyes on me the entire time. ‘I guess he’s really taking this babysitting job seriously,’ I thought to myself. Soon enough, the others started dispersing heading for their tents for the night.
“Well good night, Glenn.” I said yawning and standing up.
“Night, Chelsea. Don’t let the walkers bite.”
I laughed and shook my head as I waved to him before making my way to the tent. I quickly changed into my pajamas and stuff my clothes from today in my bag. ‘Man I’ve only got one more clean outfit. I’ll need to wash them tomorrow.’ I thought as I closed my bag and stared at the Cherokee rose Daryl had given me. I smiled as I picked it up and laid down in my sleeping bag, running my fingers over its delicate petals. No more than five minutes later, I heard Daryl enter the tent and lay down in his sleeping bag. My eyes started drooping at the sound of Daryl’s evened breathing, my last thought for the night as I held the flower in my hand, ‘I’ll find you little brother, I promise.