I was right about there being food stashed in other rooms, and I don’t know if I have ever been happier in my life to be right about something so trivial. I won’t be walking anywhere for another two days, or at least that’s what Mia thinks. I would argue with her, but just the thought of putting weight on my feet makes them hurt. I convinced Mia that I would need the cloth off my feet to put on my hazmat suit, so I’m officially on the no walking list. The next few days will involve sleeping and getting to know my savior, which will be next to impossible. I look over at Mia, she’s kneeling by her overstuffed bag rooting through it for something. After she helped me put on my mask, she said we would have to gather up our resources and move on to somewhere safer. I don’t know what her idea of safer is, but after my feet heal, I plan on reminding her of the fact that I did indeed have a bunker. I also realize that by “we”, she meant “her”. My mom would do that all the time.
“Hey Mia?” I call from my spot on the floor.
“Yeah?” She doesn’t raise her head when she responds, only continues with the task at hand.
“Why did you help me?” Her hands still and I take the opportunity to charge forward with my questioning. “I mean, you could have just walked away after you saw me lying on the ground.” It takes her a moment before she continues digging through her bag, obviously avoiding the question.
“You could at least tell me you don’t want to talk about it,” I grumble.
“No it’s…. it’s just I don’t need to justify my reasoning to you.” her response was calloused. Like the conversation we had hours earlier had meant nothing. The moment I think I’m starting to understand her she goes and says something that makes me question if I even know her at all. In truth, I don’t. I hardly know this woman
“How old are you?” I blurt out, surprising both Mia and I.
“I’m 23. Why does it matter?” She asks with the same unfeeling tone as before.
“I don’t know anything about you besides the fact you’re a woman. I figured if we are going to be sticking together for a while we might as well get to know each other.” And that’s all the convincing it takes. Mia nods and continues to search her bag for some mysterious object she may or may not find.
“Let’s make it a game,” I blurt after a few minutes of silence.
“Make what a game?” Mia asks not turning around.
“Learning things about each other. I’ll ask you a question then you can ask me a question. We’ll go back and forth until one of us decides to quit.” My enthusiasm gets the better of me and I excitedly bounce in my seat on the ground waiting for her answer.
“What’s your favorite color?” With just that simple question, no matter how half hearted the asking, my mood grew impossibly better.
“Purple. Okay what-”
“Got it!” Mia yells interrupting my questioning all together. She pulls what looks to be a can opener from her bag, almost knocking it over in the process.
“You good over there?” I ask mildly concerned.
“Yeah I’m fine. For a second there I thought the can opener was gone.” Mia answers with relief in her muffled voice.
“Well are we going to eat or what? It’s not like I haven’t eaten in days- oh wait...” My sarcasm is practically dripping onto the floor with my obvious remark. Mia glares at me through her mask, her annoyance almost tangible.
“Okay geez you don’t have to bite my head off,” I say defensively raising my hands.
“Another comment like that and I may just not feed you tonight,” Mia’s tone is light as she walks around the couch.
“You don’t have the authority to do that!” I object, as Mia grabs the can from the last cabinet.
“Oh don’t I?” Mia threatens lightly as she starts opening the can.
“This is abuse! You are abusing a child! You can’t just not feed me,” I accuse pointing my finger directly at Mia as menacingly as I can.
“You’re not a child…. At least I…. How old are you anyway?” Mia asks falling over her words, as she finally manages to open the can in her hands.
“22.” I confess, blushing slightly, “But that is not the point here!”
“Oh I think that is definitely the point here.” Mia interrupts setting the can down in front of me.
“I’m hungry so I’m not going to objects to this offering,” I clarify quickly grabbing the offered can and holding it firmly in my hands. “However, don’t we have to be careful about getting exposed to the radiation?”
“It shouldn’t be too bad if we’re quick about eating,” Mia answers pulling another can out of her bag.
“But still, we need to be careful about taking off our masks.” I urge looking at the contents of my can. It looks like fruit, probably the peaches I thought it was.
“You’re right about that.” Mia grunts as she fights with her can, “Once you can walk we’ll find a safe place where we can take off our masks and hazmat suits.”
“We could just go to my bunker.” I suggest matter-of-factly.
“And why would we do that?” Mia challenges as she continues to fight with the can, it’s pretty tough apparently.
"We would do that because it’s a bunker and I have a can opener down there.” Mia stops at my words and whips her head in my direction, the top of her can popping off. If I could see her face I would guess that her mouth would be hanging open. ” You forgot I had a bunker didn’t you?” I mock as a smile pulls at my lips.
“I did no such thing,” Mia denies setting her can on the floor.
“Besides, it’s always better to have extras incase we end up losing something isn’t it?” Mia stops again at my obvious question, her shoulders stiffen before she reaches back into her bag pulling out another can.
“Maybe,” she mutters softly, but her voice sounds different almost like it doesn’t have the same air of confidence it always does.
“Are you embarrassed?” I ask as a laugh bubbles up my throat.
“No!” Mia almost yells causing me to laugh harder, almost spilling my food. Suddenly a faded red flashlight is barreling towards me. I manage to duck my head right as it goes whizzing by me hitting the wall with a thump.
“Okay you aren’t embarrassed.” I struggle to say through my dying laughter. “So we’ll leave when I can walk again?” I ask serious. Mia buckles her bag before walking towards me both cans in her hands. She doesn’t say anything as she shakily lowers herself to the ground.
“I’ll go and try to find more food and water, after we eat,” Mia brings the can opener up to rest on the lip of the can, but instead misses the can completely.
“No.” I say resolutely, my tone forcing Mia to look up at me. “You will stay here. Look at yourself... you can’t even get the can opener on the can.” Mia glares at me, her anger clear even through her mask.
“And what makes you so sure I’ll listen to you?” She asks hand expectantly on her hip.
“The fact that you probably haven’t slept in the last three days is pretty convincing.” I say glaring back at her, unwilling to let the matter drop.
“It hasn’t been that long I only left-”
“You left three days ago,” I interject cutting Mia short. “Just because you lost track of the days doesn’t mean I have.” Mia sighs setting the can opener and the can on the ground.
“What would you suggest we do then?” She asks exasperatedly.
“We can go a few days without looking for more food, besides I might heal faster than you think.” I stay seated where I am, not that I have much of a choice in the matter, waiting for Mia to realize when someone else is obviously right. She sits there for minutes on end unwilling to admit defeat.
“It’s not like I haven’t been alone before,” I mutter quietly to myself. If I hadn’t been watching Mia so intently I might have missed the way her shoulders pull inwards at my words.
“Fine.” Mia decides, pushing the can and opener towards me. “We can stay here until you can walk.” Mia slides herself closer to me on the floor, catching me by surprise. “But no later than that. Now if you don’t mind opening that third can.” Mia finishes gesturing to the items in front of me. I sit there stunned. I won. Mia actually listened to me. Maybe she isn’t as bad as I thought.
“What are you waiting for Christmas?” Mia asks, impatiently tapping her nonexistent watch.
“Do we even need a third can?” I question, gingerly taking the two objects in my hands.
“I gave you one. Don’t push your luck,” Mia threatens glaring at me.
“Okay Okay, calm down Captain Bossy,” I relent, starting in on the can.