“Oh my head is killing me,” I groan, slowly bringing my hands up to put pressure on my temples.
“You’re awake,” Mia sighs in… relief from next to me.
“Seems like it.”
“Do you remember what happened?”
Do I remember what happened?
“I- uh I remember… walking. We were outside in the very hot sun.” I mutter trying to piece together the fraying strings of my memory.
“Yeah, and then you up and passed out on me.” Mia grumbles. I scoff at her tone, of course she’d be the type to get upset that I passed out on her.
“Sorry about that, I’ll try not to do that again.”
“You better not,” She snaps at me. I hope it’s the you scared the crap out of me don’t do it again kind of snap. I open my eyes a sliver, giving myself time to adjust to the light but I’m surprised.
“When did it get so dark?” I ask Mia letting my eyes open all the way.
“About the time the sun set. Which was maybe an hour ago.”
“Yeah, what is it?” She answers a little too quickly.
“The room isn’t supposed to be spinning a little is it?”
“No. No it is not.”
“Any Ideas on how to make it stop?” My tone slips into pleading a bit, and I curse myself for sounding so weak.
“Close your eyes.” She orders, covering my eyes with her hand.
“I am capable of closing my eyes without help you know,” I chuckle at her antics, but close my eyes regardless.
“I’m sure you can, but you’ve been known not to listen to instructions.” Our conversation falls silent, and I have no problem with that. I sit there, letting Mia cover my eyes, as the throbbing in my head begins to dull into a light pounding. We're just sitting enjoying the others company. It’s how I always imagined I’d spend my time with a girlfriend or boyfriend. We wouldn’t have to talk, because we already knew everything about the other person.
“You haven’t dozed off now have you?” Mia asks lightly.
“Nope.” I answer back popping the ‘p’. “You know you never did answer my question.”
“Oh,and what question is that?”
“What did you do before all this?” I ask, slowly opening my eyes again.
“No, I’m pretty sure I answered it.”
“No you didn’t.” I gently move Mia’s hand from my eyes to glare at her, the room thankfully not spinning.
“I’m telling you I did. I def-”
“Your answer was ‘I was taking some time off,’ That is not an answer.” I cross my arms and look at her expectantly.
“Does it matter?” Mia sighs, sounding a bit exasperated.
“It matters to me.” I answer honestly, looking right into her eyes.
“Why?” Mia whispers almost too softly for me to hear.
“Because I want to know everything there is to know about you. I want to know what used to make you happy when you had bad days. I wanna know why you hated your neighbor down the street, even though that doesn't mean shit anymore.I just want to know you.” Mia doesn’t say anything to that. I’m pretty sure I just freaked her out. She must think I’m a freaking creep, or a weirdo or something.
“I worked at a small company, only had maybe twenty or so people that I can think of anyway. I actually got fired maybe a week before the nukes hit. The official reason was for ‘attitude problems’.” Mia air quotes at me, clearly still sore over the firing.
“What kind of attitude problems constitute getting fired? It’s not like you punched someone.” I laugh looking over at Mia. Except she won’t look in my direction. Her shoulders are pulled in towards herself, like she’s… embarrassed.
“Oh my god you punched someone!” I exclaim, turning my body towards her more. She jumps and looks in my direction at my outburst. The corners of a sheepish grin making its way to her cheeks.
“Oh you definitely have to tell me why you punched him.”
“I will do no such thing.” Mia crosses her arms in defiance, again refusing to look at me.
“Oh come on.” I groan, throwing my hands up a bit in exasperation. “How about if you answer me I’ll let you ask me any question you want.” I keep looking in Mia’s direction, hope making its way onto my face. After about a minute Mia finally turns around to look back at me. I raise my eyebrows at her a few times, trying to coax her into a yes.
“Fine! Fine I’ll tell you!” Mia exclaims throwing her hands up in defeat, with a smile in her voice. “It was my boss, and I punched him because he was getting on my case about the smallest mistake in some paper or report I had given him. I’d had enough.”
“From all the time I’ve known you,” I start making sure to keep my voice level and serious, “That definitely sounds like something you’d do.” And I laugh. I can’t help it. She managed to get herself fired, because essentially her boss was annoying her. She wouldn’t be fired for anything less.
“I’ve earned myself a question, have I not?”
“Oh yeah, whenever you’re ready,” I nod over at Mia, my laughter tapering off.
“Earlier, before you passed out, you said that you’d moved out of the area before the nukes went off,” My smile slowly drops the longer Mia is talking. “I was wondering… why did you move out?” This time it’s me who pointedly looks away. I’d gladly not answer, but a deal is a deal and I’m a woman of my word.
“It was sort of a combination of things.” I mutter, rubbing the back of my neck defensively. “My dad walked out on my mom for a few months without so much as a word. Not where he was going or what he was doing. Just poof gone. I had to hear from one of his work friends, that he left with a woman. Of course I don’t know if he did anything, but that’s beside the point.” I try to unclench my fists, I did even realize that I had balled my hands into fists in the first place. I guess I still have a lot of anger towards my dad.
“You still love him though don’t you?” Mia asks quietly, almost certainly prompting me to continue.
“Of course I still love him he’s my dad.” I concede, letting my hands relax back at my sides. “Anyway, when he came back my mom just went around like nothing had happened. Not one yelled word or arguement. Like she was okay that he was gone, and we didn’t even know if he was okay. He didn’t even answer any of our texts or calls. After a few weeks of this… fake perfect household I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get out of there. So I looked for my own place and moved out.” When I finish, my voice I a bit rough. My emotions are running higher than normal, and I manage to make myself take a calming breath.
“You okay?” Mia asks, laying a hand gently on my shoulder. On instinct I bring one of my hands up to cover hers.
“Yeah. Yeah I’m good. I guess I just didn’t realize how much that still bothered me.”
“Those kinds of things can really sneak up on you when you try not to think about them for long enough.” Mia lends what I think is advice, and it makes me smile at least a little. She cares enough to try to make me feel better over some stupid family drama that doesn’t even matter anymore.
“I hope you weren’t just sitting around the whole time I was passed out,” I chide Mia changing the subject, in hopes of lightening the mood.
“No I did not just sit around the whole time. I managed to take a look around this nice little home.” Mia’s voice has gone all smug again, and I can’t help the small giggle that its tone brings.
“Oh do tell. What did you manage to find?” I ask bringing my tone, closer to the patronising, ‘your art is terrible but let’s hang it on the fridge,’ kind of tone.
“I opened the fridge, not a good choice don’t do it again, and found a small treasure trove of water bottles. We should be good on water for a little bit. And there were a good five or six cans of food sitting in the pantry.” The longer Mia goes on the more excited she gets. There’s something she’s not telling me.
“Okay what aren’t you telling me?” I try to ask in a mom’s tell me the truth tone.
“Well, most of the food was way passed saving, and the other part was stale. But guess who found a box of still good cereal?” Mia’s definitely smiling the widest smile she probably ever has in her life. I can see it in the way her eyes crinkle in happiness.
“Oh my god yes!” I exclaim, unable to contain my joy. “Something other than canned food, sounds heavenly.”
“I was thinking we’d save it for a special occasion, as a treat.”
“Well, I think me waking up from passing out and not being dead counts as a special occasion. Don’t you?” I look pleadingly at Mia again, waggling my eyebrows at her to get her to agree. We sit there in a silent standoff. Me continuing to waggle my eyebrows at a fast pace, hopefully breaking Mia’s resolve as the seconds tick by.
“Fine, but only a little bit!” Mia huffs, getting up and stalking towards the kitchen.
“Yes! You’re the best!” I yell after Mia in triumph.
“But after the cereal we need to get moving again,” Mia calls from the kitchen, as she rustles in the pantry, or at least I assume she is. “I still didn’t find you a bag, this place is a lot emptier than it looks from the outside.”
“Yeah yeah whatever. Just bring the cereal!” I call again, growing impatient.
“Keep talking like that and I won’t give you any.”
“No!” I quickly exclaim upset, “I’m sorry! Please let me have some cereal.” I apologize as Mia walks back into the living room with bowls and spoons in hand.
“If we’re going to have cereal we have to do it right.” Mia declares shaking the box. Things like this is why Mia makes it hard to remember that the world’s gone to shit.