“Dale could get under your skin,” Rick started softly as we all stood around his grave the next day. I stood next to Daryl, like always, and had my arms wrapped around Riley, who stood in front of me. “He sure got under mine, cause he wasn’t afraid to say exactly what he thought, how he felt. That kinda honesty is rare and brave. Whenever I’d make a decision, I’d look at Dale he’d be lookin’ back to me with that look he had. We’ve all seen it one time or another. I couldn’t always read him, but he could read us. Saw people for who they were. He knew things about us, the truth, who we really are. In the end he was talkin’ about losing our humanity. He said this group is broken. Best way to honor him is to unbreak it. Set aside our differences and pull together. Stop feeling sorry for ourselves; take control of our lives, our safety, our future. We’re not broken. We’re gonna prove him wrong. From now on, we’re gonna do it his way. That is how we honor Dale.”
We all stood there in silence as Rick’s words lingered in the air. Some people were crying, others holding back tears. I for once wasn’t. After having cried all night, I told myself that I wouldn’t cry anymore. I had to be strong. Be strong for Riley. I sighed and turned to leave, the first to do so. We could stand there all day and throw ourselves a pity party over everything that we’ve lost, but we needed to move forward with our lives. Dale’s gone and it’s just something that we’ll have to move on from. There’s no use crying now. This is the hand we’ve been dealt in this fucked up world.
I was the first to make it back to camp with Riley right behind. The others soon joined us and Hershel began to talk about moving all of us inside the house.
“It’ll be tight. Sixteen people in one house.”
“Don’t worry about that with the swamp hardenin’ and the cry dryin’ up.”
“With fifty head of cattle on the property, we might as well be ringing a damn dinner bell,” Maggie said.
“She’s right, we should’ve moved you in a while ago.” Hershel added.
“Alright, let’s move the vehicles near each of the doors facing out towards the road. Put a look out in the windmill and another in the barn loft. That should give us sight lines to both sides of the property.”
“I guess we should go pack up camp,” I said looking over at Daryl as Rick continued talking. He nodded and began walking towards it. “Riles, stay here with Carl.” I said and he mumbled an ok as I followed Daryl.
“Go ahead and grab everythin’ in tha tent, I’ll get the stuff out here,” He said as we made it to camp.
I nodded and unzipped the tent and stepped in. It’s been a while since I’ve been in here, but it looked the same as it did before. I folded up the sleeping bags and stuffed them in their respective bags and sat them outside. Then I grabbed Daryl’s bag and my bag, seeing as we never unpacked there wasn’t much to gather. As I picked up my bag I watched as the flower that Daryl had given me, what seemed like forever ago, fall to the ground. It was dead now, but I still picked it up and twirled it between my fingers as I walked out of the tent.
“Got everything?” He asked walking towards me to take down the tent.