The gunfire stops after a few minutes. We hear car doors slam and feet pound on the gravel walkways.
Half an hour later Daryl opens the door and says, "We saved everyone who could be saved, including Glenn. It's safe now."
We all get up and walk out with him.
"Y'all can go back to cell block D for tonight," Daryl says, leading us there.
The others bid goodnight and scurry to their cells. They are all in the bottom floor. It takes a while to get up to my cell. Once I do I fall asleep almost immediately.
The next morning, still sore, I wake up and brush my hair out. With my glasses on my head and gun in its holster, I limp outside.
I breathe in the early morning air with fog low on the ground making the walkers more creepy than they already are. Rick and Carl are out in the garden eating something. Michonne, Daryl, Maggie, and Beth are in the dining area.
"What's it today?" I ask when I arrive to the dining area.
"Leftovers from yesterday," Maggie says, pausing to hand me a lukewarm bowl.
"How's Glenn?" I ask out of respect, just how my parents taught me.
She smiles, a loving one that is rare these days, and says, "Better. He was almost..." She shakes her head, "But he is ok now."
I nod and mutter a goodbye, carrying my bowl and spoon down to the garden. It's warming up but still a bit cold. Goosebumps dot my skin as I walk to Rick and Carl who are talking and smiling.
Rick spots me before Carl does and parts away. I caught 'food' and 'be right back' from Rick.
"Morning," I greet.
"Morning," he greets back.
"How is your side?" he asks, picking a pea pod and spilting it.
I take a spoonful of soup. "Still sore, but better."
Silence swells between us. I glance at him for a second, and then look back to my now cold soup. I look back at him to see him looking at me. We look away blushing. I then remember how he didn't look at my chest during the stabbing.
"Um, I just wanted to say thanks for not looking when you took my shirt off when I got stabbed," I say. mentally cringing for how awkward this is.
He looks surprised with wide eyes but sputters out, "No problem. Um, soup for breakfast?"
I'm relieved when he changes the subject.
I clear my throat and say, "Uh, yeah."
He mutters a bye and leaves rather fast. I sigh and place my bowl on the ground beside the pea pod stalk. I scan the edge of the woods. It might be the summer heat or dehydration, because for a moment I thought I saw a man with an eye patch staring right at me. I blink and he is gone. I shake my head and turn, going back up to the courtyard.
"You are needed back," Maggie says when I reach the top.
I nod and follow close behind back to the library. Hershel, Daryl, Glenn, and Sasha are sitting behind a line of tables. In front of them are two chairs, one to the left, the other on the right of the aisle.
The people that survived the flu epidemic are standing behind the two chairs in front of the council
Lizzie sits in the left chair. I take the right, slightly wincing at the pain.
Hershel says, "I have spoken with the other council members about the crime and we need to hear it from Lizzie."
Lizzie says, "I didn't do it! I would never hurt her, honestly. Why would I? I don't even have a reason to anyway."
I glare at her for lying.
"Are there any witnesses? If there are, come forward now," Glenn says.
Murmurs break out in the crowd behind us.
"I saw it happen," we hear a small voice say.
I crane my head and see a little curly haired boy come to the aisle, between Lizzie and I. Luke saw it happen. I gap at him.
"What did you see?" Daryl asked after quieting the crowd.
"I saw Lizzie hurt Charlotte," he states simply.
Hershel stares at him. Luke stares back with truth in his small posture. Hershel nods, "Lizzie Samuels is found guilty for stabbing Charlotte Hiddle."
Lizzie turns and glares at the two of us.
"This trial is over," Hershel says, his voice amplifying as the crowd streams out.
Luke has disappeared into the crowd. I need to thank him. As I leave, I feel an hand grab my arm. I turn and see Carl.
"Can I talk to you?" he asks.
I shake my head, "No I need to find Luke and thank him."
He lets go and I limp fast, scanning until I found a curly head of cheasnut hair.
"Luke!" I shout.
He turns around.
I catch up and say, "What you did back there, took a lot of courage. More courage than I will ever have. I just want to say thanks."
It's silent for a few long seconds.
Then he says, "I have more courage than you? And you're welcome. Bye!"
He races off to his mom, who has the same curly hair and brown eyes. She clutches him tight in a hug. I grimace as a memory flashes of my mothers hugs when I was little. Oh how I would give anything to get a hug packed with motherly love and safe arms around me. I would do anything for one right now. I feel loneliness sucker punch me, leaving me gasping for air. They walk away hand in hand, almost skipping and laughing.
"Can we talk?" I hear Carl ask.
I snap my attention to the right. I nod and follow him.
We are back in the offices.
"What did you want to talk about?" I ask.
"Since the world went to shit, there isn't anytime for anything to be slow, especially feelings." he starts.
What is he getting at? I squint at him curiuosly.
"Look, I know we have only known each other for several days...but I like like you." he admits, not looking at me.
I admit, I saw that coming. No, not because I think I'm beautiful to get any guy I want, but at the beginning of his confession.
"Carl." I sigh.
He cringes at the response.
"I guess we could give it a try?" I say, uncertainty laced in my anwser.
He smiles and steps towards me. I shuffle back a bit.
"Not so fast." I say.
He nods fast and holds out his hand expectantly.
"How about we just do stuff and talk?" I suggest, not combfortable with holding his hand yet.
He puts his hand down and smiles an uneasy smile.
"Okay, like what?" he asks.
I shrug, "I've only been here for a few days, so what do you usually do around here besides hang out in the garden?"
He automatically says, "Spend time with Judith."
I nod, not knowing what to say.
"Let's go see Judy," he says, smiling.
"Beth! I'm gonna take Judy for now." Carl calls into cell block C.
"Okay! I'm gonna go help daddy. I just changed her diaper after I fed her so she is all good right now." Beth says, coming out with the chubby baby on her hip.
In her other hand, which isn't occupied with the baby, is a stack of red solo cups.
Beth slips the baby in Carl.s arms, and hands me the cups.
"She likes to play with them, it keeps her busy," she explains before saying goodbye and leaving.
Now it's just us three.
"Let's go to my room," he says, walking to one of the middle ones.
He sits on the bottom bunk, an orange pack peeking out under the bed. He sets Judith down on the floor and takes the cups from the stack, putting them in front of her. Once he's sure she is too busy to notice him he moves back to the bed. He pats the spot next to him on his bed.
I shuffle over quietly and sit close to him, but left a few inches between us.
"So, why now? Why confess?" I ask.
"In this world, nothing slows down for you. Like a river, we are the fish that have to keep moving to survive. You have overwhelmed me, bursting into my world and becoming a major part of it. I just got this feeling I wanted to be with you." he admits.
His eyes lock with mine. They hold truth and compassion. I shift over closer. Lost in the moment, I lean in, tilting my head to the side like in the movies. He leans in and tilts his head the oppisite way, like puzzle pieces fitting together. His tan freckles look better up close. Eyes of bright blue, which turn with his mood. His eyes glance down to my lips, which are parted slightly in anticipation. He looks back into my eyes and a grin slips onto his face as we close the distance between our lips.
Judith's sharply cries just when our lips were about to connect. She is looking right at us, her face scrunched up in a little chubby baby scowl, her red cups neglected.
"Maybe another time." I say as he moves to pick her up.
"Defintely," he promises and takes her out into the hallway, walking with her, slightly bouncing her to stop her wailing.
Babies need a lot of attention. I felt tingly from what was about to happen, the calm before the best storm of butterflies in my stomach. An attack of the sensitive nerves in my lips connecting to another pair for the first time. To be hyperaware of what I deperatly yearned for after being alone in that house for four months.
I sigh and pull out my bun which had some strands hanging out and put it in a ponytail. I groan in frustration. To be so close of getting something, and it suddenly taking away, interrupted. I take a deep breath, hold it in, and exhale, a little moan of anger slipping between my moistened lips.
"I'm gonna go. Bye." I say when I come out after a few minutes.
As I walk I add, "It was nice to meet your little sister."
"Bye." he says, looking at me, his eyes holding mine for a few seconds.
I spot the person I need to talk to. Maggie is up in the tower looking out across the tree line. It's rare now that she isn't with Glenn nursing him back to health. I wave down below and she sees me.
A minute later she is down here back on the ground.
"What's wrong?" she asks.
"I need some girl advice." I blurt out.