It is the middle of the night.
Everyone is asleep, but it is completely silent; you can't hear the sound of the usual snoring, or the soft ticking of the beetle blades, or the creaking footsteps on the stairs of the Homestead when someone needs to use the toilet.
No sound at all, except for the quiet sound of Winston's bare feet on the grass.
He is walking towards the Deadheads, towards the large, empty space in the middle of the forest where the Gladers bury their dead. When he enters the open spot, it feels like he can't breathe for a moment.
He can read the names on the tombstones even from his spot, five metres away from them, even in the dim light which the Glade is covered in.
And the new name, which has only been written there for a couple of hours.
Tears prick behind Winston's eyes.
He has only seen her two times; the first time when she got sent up with the Box and ran away, and a second time during a Gathering. He remembers very well what he had said then.
"The doors will close in half an hour," he had said. "If we want to banish her, we have to do it quickly."
He wonders why he was so mean, why he wanted to get rid of her, though he knows the answer.
He was jealous.
Jealous that she and Newt got to be happy, together. Perhaps they didn't even know that they were in love with each other back then, but it was obvious. The way they talked about each other... like nothing else existed.
But it was only this afternoon that Winston actually realized what Lauren had meant to Newt.
Her funeral had been this day, three days after she died. She had been shot while trying to save Newt, and had died in the Homestead. The Med-Jacks hadn't been able to save her. And the worst thing is: Winston had wanted her dead.
He was such a jealous asshole.
He wanted to find love, too, to be happy with someone. He didn't want to be jealous again, so he wanted to pull Newt and Lauren apart. It was the wrong way.
Why didn't he realize that earlier?
While fighting back tears, he slowly walks towards the tombstone with Lauren's name carved into it. The grass pricks in his feet, but he doesn't mind.
Kneeling down at Lauren's grave, he looks at the flower he is holding in his hand, and then at the bundle of flowers that is already lying on the hard ground. Those are Newt's, there is no doubting that.
Winston fiddles at the rope that is holding the flowers together and puts his own flower in the bundle.
Done. No one will notice.
When he has tied the ends of the cord back again, he closes his eyes for a moment, like he is trying to contact Lauren's spirit or something, and quietly whispers: "I'm so sorry, Lauren."
Then he stands up and runs away, silent tears blurring his vision.
Winston sits down on one of the benches next to the Box, his cheeks wet with tears. He buries his face in his hands.
Shit, I'm such an asshole, he thinks. I'm a stupid, selfish asshole.
Why can't I do anything right?
Why do I always have to be the one that messes things up and gets people to hate him?
He decides right there, right then, that he doesn't care if someone sees or hears him.
He starts to cry, that ugly way of crying that only people who totally hate themselves use, with loud sobs and jerking shoulders.
He doesn't know how long he sits there. Ten minutes? Thirty minutes? An hour? It feels like forever to him.
His loud crying has just turned into quiet sobbing when he hears a sound. It sounds like someone is scraping his nails over something. The sound immediately stops, but not fast enough to prevent Winston from hearing where it came from.
It came out of the Box.
No, that can't be right. There's nobody in the Box.
Perhaps it's a beetle blade or something.
Winston keeps sitting there for another couple of seconds, waiting for another sound, footsteps or something, but everything remains completely silent. Winston's curiosity wins from his urge to keep sitting, and he lowers his hands.
He doesn't see anything; the Box is empty, except for two crates that haven't been brought away yet. Winston walks towards the edge of the Box, so that he can see everything that is inside it, and looks down.
The sight makes him gasp.
A girl is lying on the floor of the metal Box.
She is unconscious.
How did she get there? Winston wonders. And why is there another girl in the Glade?
A part of him wants to leave her there, doesn't want to get involved, but she looks so small, so fragile, that he simply knows that he can't leave her there; he knows that he'll feel guilty afterwards.
So he starts to climb into the Box. The metal floor is cold as ice beneath his bare feet.
Shivering, he kneels down next to the girl.