Jacob and I are back in bed when we should be out looking for food. After we ate the beans and finished cleaning, Jacob filled my bag with today’s supplies and loaded his rifle. Our clothes needed to dry, so we decided to ‘rest our eyes’ for a second. That second turned into hours. I once read that survival needs to be lazy. You don’t want to exert too much energy when you’re short on food, otherwise, you risk burning calories you can’t get back. I like to think that the author of that article would be proud of us.
I’m holding the Bible above our heads and explaining Solomon’s writings to Jacob. My left leg is resting overtop his right leg, a subtle way I like to cuddle with him. Jacob’s doing a lot of nodding, a lot of sure sure, yep yep, which means he’d rather be snoozing than listening to my Biblical lectures. Too bad.
“Is this supposed to be taken literally or is there a deeper meaning behind it?” Jacob says. “This seems like those annoying romance novels that go on and on.”
I raise an eyebrow. “That’s your opinion. The words are literal and they have a deeper meaning. I think the writing is full of love; although, Solomon was said to have hundreds of wives.”
“Hundreds? Lucky guy.”
I slug Jacob in the shoulder. He pretends he’s in pain and burrows his head into my chest. Jacob believes in God, but he’s unfamiliar with a lot of the Bible, and by a lot, I mean the parts in between Genesis and Revelation. He’s learning, though, and it’s a joy to be a part of his faith walk, aside from the snarky comments.
“I was kidding,” he says.
I mouth I know and bring the Bible close to our faces. “Sometimes fewer words work, and sometimes you have to get creative. This letter is about love, true love. The words are Solomon’s feelings, emotions; they’re all he wants her to know and understand.”
Jacob smiles. “Speaking of words, you sure know how to say ‘em too.”
Jacob begins to read a passage. “Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your, oh my, your breasts are like twin fawns that browse among the lilies. Holy cow! This is like Bible porn!”
“Jacob!” I yank the Bible away from him and set it on our nightstand.
He sits up. “I didn’t mean it as a bad thing.”
“You said it was porn. That is possibly the worst word I would use to describe it.”
“Well, it sort of is though.”
“It’s a love letter, not some cheap thing to get off too.”
I’m quite moody at the moment. Maybe it’s because of this thing called starvation. Yeah, that’d about do it.
He grins. “Who says I never got off to any of your love letters?”
I sit up fast and stare at Jacob. I can’t believe what I just heard. “Ooooooo-kay. This Bible study has officially spiraled out of control.”
Jacob envelops himself in a wad of pillows and blankets, his go-to move when he’s embarrassed. I slide out of bed and stretch my arms above my head. After a few cracks in my back and neck, I walk upstairs to see if our jeans are dry. Everything looks good. Even my headband is ready for action. Out of curiosity, I look through a small peephole Jared S made in the wall. My breathing stops.
There’s a remnant woman twenty feet away from our cabin. Her eyes are glowing red. Her clothes are tattered and bloodstained, with no shoes on her feet. Leaves and dirt are stuck in her hair. Flies land on her skin and suck on the puss seeping from her festering wounds. I lock eyes with the woman, this aimless, disgusting creature, and can’t help but wonder who she was before she turned. Was she a mother? A grandmother? A teacher? A CEO? Did she live her life to the fullest? Did she love her family with every breath in her lungs? Is there a part of her true self still left, reminding her of who she once was, reminding her she’s still human?
My eyes begin to fill up. I want to know if killing her ends her suffering. I want to know why she turned and I didn’t. What makes me so special?
“Hey, are the clothes dry?” Jacob says from downstairs. “I think we should get going.”
Why did my family have to die? Why don’t I think about them very much? What happened to me in the store yesterday? I’m hungry. I need food. Where are all the cheeseburgers, tall colas, piles of fries with ketchup on the side? Where?
“Aurora?” Jacob says.
I look out the peephole again and the woman is gone. “I’m ready,” I say.