Chapter 6: Up, Over, and To
That was better. Being dead was better. Now he wouldn’t ruin it anymore, but where did that thought come from. Why did he feel that? After all…
Questions big and small were connecting, his body repairing. He felt sand against his cheek and the weight of his body against the ground. He felt a shadow move over him.
“I meant to ask,” a voice echoed from above.
No more memories he told himself, believing the voice to be the continuation of a dream. The shadow shrunk down and the voice came out louder.
“What is on the other side of the wall?”
The intrusive question jarred him out of his imaginings. That was not Fina’s voice. He opened his eyes to see that a girl, known for spilling groceries, knelt beside him. Today pink-toed sneakers covered her feet, sheer black leggings stretched over her thighs, but she had on another short dress, this time blue with little white flowers.
“You……have terrible taste in dresses,” Cecile concluded.
How could he not notice with the way she crouched down beside him like that? Out of courtesy, he would have turned away, but the gunshot wound to his head had temporarily disabled his neck. She shifted her position, but not to cover up. Instead, she leaned closer so that her icy blue eyes were all that he could focus on.
“I deserve an answer,” she told him. “What is on the other side of the wall?”
It was an act performed to hide the serious intent behind her question. His mind was confused enough to fall through, but her words ruined his mood. He did not accept requests for outside information, though, he did find it interesting that she was the one asking. He had not imagined her as the inquisitive type.
Cecile mulled this over as the girl waited for his response. Her breath landed soft and white against his cheek. Her breathing rasped. Something about her actions bothered him, but the white is what he focused on. She was cold. It was cold. It was freezing. Thoughts of self-preservation made him forget about all else. He pushed himself up to her level and the girl fell back on her butt.
“It’s freezing out here,” he said over her.
Cecile’s response had startled her. Her gasp was a visible cloud and her eyes wide and glassy. He had not expected them to switch positions. A jingle of metal caught his attention. Turning his head he saw that the owner of the clothing store stood with the door to his shop open as he watched in disbelief. Their eyes met.
“Oh ya,” the shopkeeper said, at the mention of the cold.
He had been stupidly standing outside as he tried to make sense of the situation between the suicidal undead man and the girl. Cecile ignored the shopkeeper long enough to pull himself and the girl upright. Then he pushed her and the shopkeeper through the open door of the clothes store. It closed behind them with a bang.
With the cold locked outside, Cecile took the dollar from his pocket and held it up for the shopkeeper to see. He and the girl gazed at the coin as though they had never seen money.
“Get her some warmer clothes,” Cecile instructed.
“But…” the shopkeeper protested.
Cecile took the shopkeepers hand and put the coin on his palm. He didn’t care if the money was not enough.
“Consider it a lifetime investment,” he told the shopkeeper. “I’ll be outside.”
That said, Cecile escaped back out onto the deserted street, sat himself down on the curb, and didn’t move. In fact, he felt that he couldn’t have moved. Even stranger, he felt almost cold. So impossible was the feeling that if he were to give it a name he would have said shock.
Yes, shock. For someone to come up to him and ask about the outside at a time when things were starting to resurface was unbelievable.
The door from the clothes shop slammed heavily without its doorstopper. She was back.
“Who asked you to meet me?” he questioned her without turning.
It wasn’t a simple matter to go asking about things beyond the city. Such behavior could get a person killed. The girl stepped up behind him.
“I’m sorry. When I told my friends that we accidentally met back at the store they said maybe it was time to talk,” the girl explained.
“But you’re not sorry for following me now, are you? You’re freezing.”
“I didn’t know how to meet you again. I waited outside your building, but you didn’t see me and you kept walking. You know it’s not that I wanted it to be about you. I always wanted to know what else there was outside the city. You were just convenient, you know.”
So it really was her own stupid plan. He let himself look at her. Even in a baggy shirt and sweatpants, she shook with cold. People were always foolish. He stood and slipped off his jacket to put around her.
“Wait,” she said grabbing his wrist. “Come to my place. You don’t have to tell me anything.”