Coming clean

So, I see all my friends – those of them I’ve got left, anyhow – are wondering if I’m a lair or if I’m dead. They’re right on one count, and as for the other…well, it won’t be long now.

So I exaggerated a little about how well I was keeping the farm going, and having massive stores of food and fuel. I didn’t get much from the town, cause I couldn’t get gas in the truck. I took the car on a couple of runs before that ran out, too. Walking there and back with a trolley takes hours, and it’s been too dangerous since the gangs moved out of the city. For weeks I’ve been living mostly on mouldy beans and the odd squirrel – or woodchuck.

Most of the food I put aside when I was prepping got taken in the raids. The first one, I turned out my lights, locked the door and shivered under my bed till they left. I was afraid they’d be carrying the flu, or that they’d just shoot me, or that I’d have to shoot them. The second one – the one about a month ago – I was already kind of not quite here, I mean I half believed the stuff I was posting. I thought I could take them, and I started shooting from the window but they jumped me. They’d come in through the back while they used my rigged alarms to lure me out front, and they knocked the gun out of my hand before I could even take aim. They forced me to show them where my hidden stores were. They took almost everything. Worse, they made me go up to the main house, with a rifle in my back, to call out and see if anyone was home.

They realised there wasn’t soon as we got within 50 yards of the place. The smell. They still made me go in with them. They made me face the wall, and one of them held a gun to me while the others searched the place. I could hear the flies buzzing around, and the smell made me wretch. I couldn’t stand upright. Eventually the guy with the gun let me kneel down to puke. They put masks on and ignored the flies, like it was nothing, they see this shit all the time. They took all the food in sealed containers from the kitchen and the basement, most of the tools in the garage, the truck and most of my weapons. They left me alone in there, said they’d shoot at me if I came out before they’d gone. I kept telling myself it wasn’t real. I’d buried them, I did funerals and everything. The wooden crosses and laminated photos were there, out in the herb patch. But I didn’t bury them. I just left them in there and didn’t go over that side of the farm again. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look at them.

And I couldn’t say any of that, here. Mei was reading, and she was just dealing with it all, like it came easy to her. She didn’t need anything from me. And if she saw that I wasn’t coping, that things were falling apart for me… I’d look so weak and stupid. So I lied. I wanted to impress her. I wanted her to change her mind about me. I thought, my life might have been going nowhere in the old world, but now that the shit’s hit, it’s my time, and I can be the one to keep it going, and bring it back from the brink. That’s what I wanted her to see. And I wanted her to regret brushing me off, and know she’d have been OK if she’d only come to join me when I asked her to. So yeah, I guess it was pretty pathetic. And petty, and mean. And it didn’t even work. Whatever I said to big up my life, she never regretted staying in Beijing for a second. She could barely find time to think about me. So the whole sham was pointless then, and it’s even more pointless now.

So I guess now I get what I deserve: to sit in an empty house on a wasted farm with no family, no friends, no food and no way out. All I got now is one loaded pistol, a backup I hid when I was prepping. So perhaps I got a way out after all.

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30 thoughts on “Coming clean

  1. I’m here. I’m alive. I hear you.
    Now, for everything else, you must stop this. You always think I am the most important thing in your world. But I am not in your world, and you are not in mine, not for a long time. We have a silly, fun eight weeks in another world together, but we always know we will never see each other again. When I begin university, I think maybe I will see you in the summer, explain then that I will always remember the project in Vietnam but my life is different now. There was no way to know what was coming.
    So to say you will shoot yourself because I never give you all my attention and was cruel to not have time for you as the world I have been working for all my life falls into pieces in front of me, let me explain my feelings… At one time this would make me afraid for you, I would take the blame, I would write to say I still have feelings for you, that I want us to be together again, that I will find a way to get to you. Now? I have had so much responsibility for so many, I cannot take the responsibility for your feelings too.
    Much has happened, much that I never write in a blog because there is too much to say, too much to do. My father and grandmother are dead, fighting to bring food into the town. My best friend Li is dead, fighting to keep the campus free of disease. My boyfriend is dead from the flu after helping the sick during the second quarantine (yes, Jian was my boyfriend – I did not say so, because it would hurt you). My dorm-mates are dead – I never even talk about them because they leave before the occupation. My favourite teacher is dead. The man who sold noodles in the square outside the campus is dead. The woman who always saved for me a bag of cucumber flavour crisps and some apple chips at the campus shop, not because I ask her but because she sees that I run in a hurry to get them every day before my lecture, and I never knew her name, she is dead. My cat is dead. The soldiers I shot with a stolen gun to defend myself and my friends from them and their friends, they are dead. So many people I cared about and did not care about and loved and hated and did not know are dead.
    Who are you, now, to threaten me with your death? You will not show me or teach me or make me feel anything new by dying. Death is not important anymore. I cannot feel any more death. All I can hope to feel now is life. All I hope to do is survive, and I can only do this if I can turn away from the death around me. So if you die, I must turn away from you.
    I like you, Jack. I would like for you to survive. But not because of me. I am nothing to you. You will never see me again. If you want to show me you can survive, show me you can do it without me. Do it for yourself. Do it for your parents. Or do not. Be one more death in billions. But don’t die for me, Jack, and don’t expect me to have grief for you – I have no more grief left.

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