Nicole didn't want to stop, her continuous compressions becoming more and more frantic. Eddie didn't blame her. Maybe she thought that, with enough effort, enough determination or desire, she could bring Lyn back. She knew she couldn't, just as Eddie did, but it didn't stop her from trying. After several minutes of coaxing, Eddie finally convinced the sniffling young woman to bring her hopeless ritual to an end. He watched as she slowly drew away from the corpse, her hands moving from Lyn's deathly still chest.
Nicole curled up, quietly sniffing as she tried to force herself to stop crying. Her watery gaze drifted down to her hands. It had almost worked. Shed almost brought Lyn back. It should have worked. Eddie watched as the girl wrestled with the reality of the situation. He didnt say anything, instead leaving her to her thoughts. She would need time to think about things on her own. Moving to gather his own belongings, Eddie cast a short glance back at Nicole. She looked so much smaller, now.
Nicole couldnt draw her gaze from her hands. Shed done everything right, hadnt she? Everything had been done just the way it should have, but it hadnt made any difference. Exhaustion suddenly slammed into her with the force of a freight train. Shed been running on empty for so long, shed forgotten what it felt like to be anything but weary and afraid. Crossing her arms across her knees, she hunched over, allowing her head rest on her forearms. She just wanted some sort of respite. She needed a break.
By the time Eddie organized his things, he found Nicole had fallen fast asleep. She should have looked cute while she slept. She didn't. She looked tired, even as she took her rest. Anxious, even in sleep. How depressing. Pulling his attention away from the redhead, Eddie set about wringing the water from the white shirt hed used as a smoke mask. With a quick twist, the garment released what little moisture still remained. It was a bit damp, but Eddie still found his work to be satisfactory.
Placing the shirt to one side, he began emptying his day pack, setting the food, ammunition and medical supplies aside, into a neat pile. Balling up the slightly damp garment, he placed it inside the empty bag, before folding the pack around the mass. He hefted the small wad, testing its firmness in his hands. It would do. In her sleep, Nicole made a distressed noise. Bad dreams seemed to be the order of the day.
Moving to Nicole's side, Eddie knelt down. Moving carefully, he slowly worked his hands beneath her knees and across her shoulders. Deliberately keeping steady, to keep her from waking, he slowly lifted the lightly dozing girl away from the corpse and all of its unpleasantness. She wasn't as heavy as he'd expected. Finding a suitable spot, near the edge of the clearing, Eddie gingerly lowered the girl onto his makeshift shirt-pillow. He wished he had something to act as a blanket.
Eddie returned to his equipment, sitting roughly on the ground. Examining his rifle, he heaved a heavy sigh, his gaze drifting to the body next to him. "Lyn, what happened? How does it always seem to turn out like this?" The girl with the ruined eye had nothing to say. "I can't help but feel, Eddie continued, undeterred, like this is my fault. It's egotistical, I know. Kinda selfish to think that so many lives might have depended on me. But maybe
. For some reason, I just can't shake the feeling that, if we never met, you'd still be alive. You and Jimmy. Maybe some of the others, too." While he spoke, he checked the rifle and ammunition, making sure everything was as it should be.
"You know, I wish I could bury you, or something, but I don't have a shovel. You at least deserve a shroud, like those people back in the jungle, but I'm running out of clothes." To prove his point, he tugged at the front of his wifebeater, frowning as he did so. He never liked the term wifebeater. It seemed needlessly coarse.
And so, Eddie spent his time thinking, talking to a dead girl, and watching over Nicole. It wasn't long before she began to stir. At least, it didn't seem that long to Eddie. Of course, it might have been hours. He wasn't quite sure anymore. Time had a funny way of getting away from him.
As the redhead woke, he called out to her. "Hey, you ok?" Another stupid question. He seemed to be asking a lot of those lately. He chalked it up to engaging in more social interaction than normal. For a moment, he thought about how fucked up that was, but only for a moment. He decided it was best not to dwell on the issue. It was too depressing.
"Uhm...w-we should g-get g-going." Piling all of his supplies into Nicole's bag, Eddie got to his feet. Pack slung over his shoulder and rifle in hand, he offered to help the redhead to her feet. For a long moment she simply stared at the boys extended hand. The moment passed as she accepted the aid and allowed Eddie to pull her to her feet. She checked the waist of her pants, feeling the reassuring presence of the two pistols there.
S-so, where d-do you think we should g-go? Eddie was looking away from her again. She wondered if it was for the same reasons as before. Do you really think it matters? she answered, in a voice she barely recognized as her own. Without waiting for a response, she led the way into the jungle. Maybe she was being unduly harsh, or distant, but she was entitled to that for a little while, wasnt she?
Eddie couldn't wait to leave. There was nothing left here. In fact, for some reason, he felt profoundly ill at ease. Tension filled the muscles in his shoulders and back. The airfield was definitely not a good place to be. Looking back at Lyn, he felt profound sense of guilt, leaving the girl in such a place. He tried to convince himself that the broken thing in the dirt wasn't Lyn Burbank. It didn't help much.
With Nicole leading the way, the two disappeared into the jungle.
((Eddie Sullivan and Nicole Husher continued elsewhere))
Maybe the night seems so dark because the day is much too bright.
Petra Elizabeth Andrews, Morgan Green, Edward Sullivan
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