(Survival) Chapter Thirty-Three- The Last Time?
“Kalinda? Kalinda? ¿Dónde estás?” Rosa turns back and forth on the dilapidated bed, her eyes closed, her cheeks flushed and her dark hair sweaty. “They said you were here… you’re the only one left… Kalinda?”
“Shh, I’m here, Rosa. Estoy aquí.”
“Kalinda? I can’t find you.” Rosa’s eyes are still closed. She doesn’t seem to notice Kalinda’s hand on hers.
Kalinda sighs. Rosa’s scars are infected, explaining the fever, and she’s still out of it. She’s been getting herbal medicines every hour, though, courtesy of Faith and administered by Kalinda herself, or sometimes by one of the two makeshift doctors who are working with Bryan. And there’s time. Rosa only got here yesterday.
When Sam carried her in, Kalinda had thought she was hallucinating for a moment. The woman looked like Rosa, but the scars had rendered her unrecognizable enough that Kalinda had scolded herself for getting her hopes up. But then Sam said, “She seems to know you? She said her name’s Rosa. She’s speaking Spanish, though, so that’s all we-”
“Rosa?” Kalinda interrupted. “Rosa?” She forced herself to push back the tears that came to her eyes. Now was a time for strength, not tears. But she couldn’t seem to find any words, other than “Rosa,” repeated again and again. She took Rosa’s hand, disbelieving. By that point, Rosa had already passed out.
She’s been asleep, or unconscious, ever since.
Kalinda can’t bring herself to imagine that Rosa might die now, just after they were reunited. That would be too cruel. But of course, fate doesn’t exist. Kalinda has never believed it. A coincidence, then, mixed with Rosa’s willpower, that they were able to find each other again after all these years.
Rosa, Kalinda’s best friend, almost like an older sister to her.
“Rosa,” Kalinda whispers. She pets Rosa’s hand, then stands.
There are others who must be attended to.
Felix wakes early and dresses. He slips out of the camp and into the woods. He needs some time alone, to think.
Normally, he would wake Faith, and they would go for a run together. It’s a good outlet for both of them- the sound and feeling of their feet pounding, their breath that comes too short for them to think about much else, the silence and each other’s company.
Today, though, Felix wants to be alone. As much as he loves his little sister, she can be... well, she’s still his little sister. And sometimes he just needs some time away from it all, even from her.
He breaks into an easy jog, feet falling into a natural rhythm- right, left, right, left, step over the branch, left, right, crunch through the leaves, right, left. It’s meditative, really. He could almost fall asleep, even as he runs- the sun on his back, the dew on the leaves around him, the-
The person standing up ahead, watching him.
Felix jumps, and stops in his tracks. The person doesn’t appear to be holding a weapon. Felix steps a little closer. Just a little, so he can make out- “Jacob?”
“Felix. Long time, no see.”
“What are you doing here? I should- I should kill you. For joining Banks. For betraying Bryan.” For betraying me, he thinks, but he doesn’t say that.
“But you won’t kill me, will you? Felix, I know you. You’re so… God, you’re so soft.” Coming from Jacob, someone who should be an enemy, the word doesn’t sound like an insult. It sounds- fond. “Sometimes, I wish I could be like you.”
“You can be like me, Jacob. You don’t have to work with Banks.”
“No, Felix. You don’t see. Banks is going to save us all! All the ones who combine forces with him, who are loyal to him. Kirkland just wants power.”
“What are you talking about? You’ve got it backwards, Jake.”
Jacob doesn’t say anything in response. Instead, he stares at Felix. “I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I never wanted to fight you. I never wanted to see you on the opposite side of my weapon.”
“Jacob, let me-” Felix breaks off. Let me explain? Is there anything to explain? “I miss you,” he says instead.
Jacob takes a step closer, then another, and another. “I miss you, too, Fe.”
The nickname is like a slap to the face. Hardly anyone calls him that. His mom and dad did, and so did Faith, before-
But since then, the only person who’s called him that is Jacob.
“It’s impossible, though,” Jacob says, but he sounds like he’s trying to convince himself. “We have to part ways. There’s no way we can join forces, and- I wish you’d come with me, where you’ll be safe.”
“No one will ever be safe with Banks, Jacob. He’s a madman. And I can’t come with you.”
“I know, I just-” Jacob chokes on a sob. In an instant, Felix is there, wrapping his arms around him.
“It’s okay, Jacob. You’re gonna be okay. Just- stay safe, you hear me? Stay safe.”
Jacob looks up, his eyes watery. “I love you,” he whispers.
Felix pauses. He knows it’s true- but they’d never said it out loud before. It had sounded too much like goodbye.
“I love you too,” Felix whispers, and leans closer to kiss Jacob. Would this be the last time?
He steps back. Jacob’s eyes are closed. Without saying goodbye, Felix walks backwards, back into the trees and away from Jacob, turning away only when he’s almost out of sight.
Felix’s feet pound against the ground as he continues running, and if he focuses hard, he can still see Jacob standing there, eyes closed in the sun.
But the image is already fading.