Dixons Don't Cry
Day 62 - Nighttime
I woke up in the RV. My face throbbed something awful, and everything flooded into me at once. Ed had fucking punched me. I'd never been punched by a man or boy or male of any kind; I had gotten into a few scrapes with girls at school, but never had a guy put his hands on me.
I went to sit up and groaned when the blood rushed to my head and face. I slowly pushed myself off the cot and slowly stumbled to the bathroom in the RV. I closed the door and looked at my face, and grimaced.
I had never really cared for appearance, except maybe in junior high when thick black eyeliner was my best friend and nearly made Dad shit himself when he caught onto it halfway through eighth grade year. Other than that, it never really meant much to me to have my hair nice or my clothes caught up to fashion. I either kept it down in its natural waves or threw on jeans and a jacket.
My face, I considered average. It was angled yet round, the hard Dixon eyes that were a soft blue color, pouty lips, small features set in with a tough expression from years of growing up tough and calloused, but still feminine. Just average. But right now, my face looked completely less than that average I was proud of.
A dark bruise the size of Ed's meaty fist covered my left cheek, and I knew it was going to purple in hours. I touched it lightly, and it stung without even pressing. I sighed and left the bathroom and left the RV.
I didn't know how long I was out, but apparently long enough that I missed Jim being tied to a tree. I put my hand over my eyes to cover from the sun. I backed up to look atop the RV where Dale sat. "Hey Dale, how long was I out?"
Dale looked down to me and smiled his friendly smile. "How you feelin' honey?" He asked before answering me," You been out for a couple of hours. You woke up a couple times but went right back to sleep. Ed knocked you good."
Dale shook his head and pursed his lips, before giving me a nod and a smile. "That bruise'll be nasty, I wish we had some ice for it," he said. I smiled shyly and looked away. It felt weird, as if he actually cared.
"I'm good. I'm gonna go see if I can hunt some more squirrels. Good to stock up for as many as we have," I said, forming the plan in my mind.
"Andrea and Amy caught a bunch of fish after the brought you in and cleaned your face up. We have plenty to eat with all that squirrel you and Daryl caught."
I nodded, slightly impressed that Andrea and Amy had fished and brought home a catch. Maybe they knew more than I gave them credit.
"I'll go get some berries or 'shrooms or somethin', that'd be nice," I commented, and Dale agreed. We said our goodbyes and I turned to go grab my bag out of our tent. I grabbed my pack and slung it on my bag and stuffed my handgun into its holster next to my sheath.
I exited the tent and made my way through the camp, smiling lightly at the Morales kids who were running around. Carl and Sophia were doing math problems with their mothers, and Sophia perked up as I passed.
"Hi Tessa!" She said, and I smiled and nodded at her.
"Hey kid," I greeted her in the way I've grown accustomed to. I offered a smile to Lori and Carol, and Carl smiled shyly.
"What'cha doin'?" Sophia asked.
I pointed to the direction I was going to walk, away from the path to the quarry. "Gonna go find some berries and stuff for supper tonight, figured we could have something with the fish and meat."
"Can I come?" Sophia asked eagerly, and Carl perked up too, probably trying to get out of the homework. Honestly, I would too.
I looked to the moms. Carol shrugged with a small smile as she stroked her daughter's hair once, and Lori looked at Carl and me and shook her head once. She was still skeptical about me and my family; apparently she had been adamant that Dad be left in Atlanta.
I smiled apologetically at the two and shook my head," Nah, not this time. I'm gonna be out late probably. Maybe when my daddy gets back, he can watch our backs real good while I show you."
The two groaned and turned back to their work, and Carol rose from her seat. I stopped in front of her and crinkled my eyes in a grimace when her fingers grazed my cheek. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.
I shook my head and squeezed the shoulder of the woman I had grown so fond of since the day she let Sophia play with me. Carol had been the kindest to my small family, and I appreciated her getting everybody else to at least talk to me.
I walked off without a word to the forest, immersing myself in the trees without further delays. I purposely avoided where Shane was so he couldn't speak against me going out. He tried to be the leader and tell everyone what to do, and since Merle was my father, no damn person was gonna tell me what to do. I'm a Dixon.
As I scavenged and looked for familiar mushrooms or roots or berries, I had time to think by myself.
First thing's first: Dad. I was sure Uncle Daryl would do everything in his power to bring back Merle. But, if he was gone, he'd be gone. My eyes pricked with tears at the thought, but it always had to be a possibility. I sat down against a tree and cried, mourning for the dad I didn't know would return.
My dad was not a great man, and I knew that. But, he had taken me in at the age of seven after my mom sort of just dumped me in the living room. I remember how strained our relationship was that first year. I learned not to talk much and that if i wanted to show something I did or needed help, to go to Uncle Daryl. He would always take my stupid scribbles even if he said not to bother him when he came over. After a few months when Dad was still not improving his drinking or drug abuse, Uncle Daryl would take me for days or even weeks at a time to live with him. Dad had started to bond with me after he screamed at me for touching his bike. He had caught me the fifth time I had ventured to the garage to touch the bike, fascinated by it. Our bond started to grow from there. They were both my family, and though we were a pretty shitty one, we watched out for each other.
I stood up after my cry, wiping my tears from my face. No more crying, I've done enough. Dad wouldn't want me to cry.
I continued my search and hacked away at different plants and thought of the other members of the group.
Dale had been kind to me today, it made me feel as if the old man cared, as if somehow in all of this shit, he came out to like me, even though my dad was naturally unlikeable by the rest. Carol was sweet, like a mom to me. She trusted me with her daughter--the first person in the group to trust me at all. Sophia was ready to learn and survive just like I do when Ed wasn't hovering over her; she was sweet and willing to try to survive. I smiled as I took my pack off to stuff the mushrooms into an empty can of beans.
I stood and walked, taking out one walker as I strolled. Then there was my favorite officer, Deputy Dipshit Shane. He was the self-proclaimed leader and number one asshole. Enough said. Lori was just his bitch with her kid that she needed to keep a good eye on, or he was gonna lose. Too damn curious instead of being eager like Sophia.
Amy and Andrea- the sisters. Amy was young and funny, and still naive when it came to this new world. People were eating each other, and I understood; she did too, but I was able to survive. Hopefully, with Me watching her back, she will. Andrea was a bitch, but I guess I am one too, so we're even. She cleaned me up with Amy after Ed punched me, and I guess I can redeem her for screaming at me a month ago.
Jacqui and T-Dog were two I can't even begin to understand, mainly because I was skeptical of them because of Dad. "Neva trust a nigga who can shoot" he would say. Racist, yes. Enough to instill distrust from a young age? Hell yeah. But Jacqui was nice to me today, and she was funny. I liked her.
The Morales family stayed away, so on them, I didn't know much. Morales himself was funny, I'd give him that.
I processed all of my thoughts as I spent hours wandering into the woods. I passed three walkers and took them down with my knife each time I passed one. Strange, they usually don't come this far. I had shrugged it off, and saw day was falling. I decided to head back.
I took my time walking back. Night was falling quickly, and as I made back into camp, I could smell the fish-fry and squirrel, it smelled delicious. Everybody seemed to be sitting and laughing together, and Amy had just left to the RV. Glenn was the first to spot me.
"Hey, Tess! Come grab some!" He called and everyone looked to me. I smiled shyly and slowly made my way over. I sat in the seat Glenn made for me on the edge. I took my bag off and set it on the ground near me.
"Did you get any berries?" Sophia asked, and the other children perked up.
I blushed as I felt the eyes on me and I reached into my bag and pulled out the can of the berries I managed to find. "They're pretty good, a little sour, but good," I said lightly, practically a loud whisper. The can was passed to the children, who ate eagerly. Glenn passed me the pan of fish fry with a smile, and I took one and began to eat with the others.
Conversation picked up again, but not a minute after it did, a piercing scream rang out. My head whipped to where the sound came from-- the RV-- and nearly screamed myself when I saw the hoard coming through the woods.
Everything went from good to bad in two seconds.
Screams filled the camp and the children began crying. I jumped up quickly and shot at another walker coming towards us. The men grabbed guns and the women tried to grab some sort of weapon. People were screaming and crying, and I was trying not to cry too. I might die tonight, and Daddy and Uncle Daryl weren't even back yet.
I made shots at walkers with my pistol, missing a few but hitting most head on. My clip emptied in seconds, and I grabbed my knife and swung at walker right in front of me. At the same time, another walker body dropped next to me and I turned to see that Glenn had shot it. He nodded, and I returned the gesture. He had had my back.
I ran to the side to exchange to my second and only other clip quickly. I spotted Lori and Carol with the kids cowering behind Shane. "To the RV!" Shane shouted, and for once I didn't question him.
I ran to them and got behind Carol. "I got you!" I shouted. Sophia was crying and Carol was too. Lori was screaming and freaking out, and one again, I didn't get irritated with her.
I covered Carol and Sophia as much as I could with few bullets I had filled, quickly switching to my knife and just swinging. If I was going to protect anybody, it would be the woman who seemed so open to me, and the little girl I had grown to care for like a little sister. I pushed them forward to the RV and hung back to take care of oncoming walkers.
Bodies were dropping and guns were firing. I was trying to take some down with just my knife. They were thinning, so close, I didn't know we had so many guns.
I missed the walker's head and instead hit the jaw, and when I yanked my knife out, it fell on top of me and I fell. I screamed for the first time in my life as I tried to hold it away from me. Its jaws snapped at me. If I tried to stab it, it would bite me. I struggled against the heavy walker. "HELP!" I screamed, sobs racking through my voice," SOMEBODY HELP ME!"
My strength was running out, until finally a gunshot rang out and the walker went limp. Blood from the shot to the head splattered on my face, it felt disgusting. The body was removed from me, and I was pulled up into a pair of arms.
I shook as I dug my face deep into the neck of the person hugging me. I knew it was Uncle Daryl, just by the way he hugged me so close and how his fingers dug into my hair.
"You bit? Scratched?" he asked. I could hear the desperateness in his voice. I simply shook my head and let him hold onto me. I knew that because it was him hugging me, that I didn't hear the familiar booming voice shouting for me, that he was hugging me so close in general, that Dad was not with them.
"Was Dad a walker?" I asked, holding back my tears by biting my lip and shutting my eyes. I felt my uncle shake his head.
I pulled away suddenly; he avoided my eyes. "Where is he?" I asked, my voice trembling.
"Gone. Cut off his own hand, escaped, took down two fuckers and cauterized it. Lost a hand, but alive," Uncle Daryl told me.
I nodded, and because of my walk in the woods and crying then, I managed a small smile. "Dad's a tough son of a bitch," I said softly.
He nodded, and his hand touched my cheek. We looked each other in our matching Dixon eyes, and I hugged him again, pressing my cheek against his chest. Dad was alive, and he may be one handed, but if anybody could do it, he could. What would Uncle Daryl tell her as a kid, when Dad would be in the hospital after a drug binge? "Feed him a hammer and he'd crap out nails"? He was okay, and I knew that one day we would find him.
A pained, heartbreaking scream broke out through the camp, and we looked to the RV, and I gasped, my hands coming to my mouth.
Andrea was hovering over the bloody body of her sister. She was crying and whispering. I grabbed onto Uncle Daryl's left arm, my left hand still covering my mouth as the tears fell down my face. Sweet Amy, she was dead. My eyes flickered around the camp, and let a chocked sob out seeing all of the bodies that littered the ground. I looked and my eyes once again landed on Andrea and Amy. Amy was the first to talk to me, to attempt to be friends. She'd been mauled.
I felt my shoulder being squeezed in comfort, but I shook my head and left for the tent, stomping my feet the whole way and crying. These people had grown on me, I had started opening up, and now half were dead. I opened to them, started showing who I was--the girl hidden by shyness and awkwardness--and it just hurt when they died.
I laid on my Dad's cot in the tent and curled up on his pillow. I cried, and I could practically hear his voice in my ear, nagging me for crying.
I fell asleep that way; today was all too much. It was the first day that actually knocked sense into everybody: this shit was real.
NotesThis chapter was a bit short and sad and had a lot of thinking about the other members of the group on Tessa's part, but I felt she needed that to happen, to be able to think about what they all meant to her, at least a little bit because as of now she still thinks they only kind of care. She's opening up though, as you can see through Carol/Sophia, and her reaction to Amy's death. She's becoming more vulnerable, as Daryl is, realizing how quickly he could lose his last bit of kin he thinks of as his own daughter. I might do a chapter in third person for the next chapter, or maybe just a section. Can't say yet.
I can say though, is that the next chapter will be a bit fluffy though, a little awkward, but fluffy! ;)