1.9 – Nobody but Nobody

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Her name is Anna. I can finally stop calling her “the naked girl.” Her name is Anna and she is more beautiful than I remembered. Her name is Anna and she is more beautiful than I remembered, and she has a boyfriend. I figured by the way she acted out front earlier when Aiden was about to shoot the kid, but my suspicion was confirmed at dinner. Which is fine, I don’t even know her. I just can’t help but be intrigued – I’m sure the mystery will fade with time, but tonight I couldn’t help but stare as I reveled in my luck at seeing her again. It has to mean something – our strange run-in in her backyard, and now she shows up here at our hideout. But of course it can’t mean anything. And yet I can’t wait to see her – Anna – again. Knowing that she is just two floors up at this very moment is almost more than I can bear. The air is tense here on the fourth floor, and I know there are things I need to tend to, so I quit my daydreaming. I head over to Aiden’s quarters to talk to him about plans moving forward. “How do you feel about them sticking around, Aiden?” I ask, entering after a few knocks. “Too many people, Jamie – the fewer we are, the quieter, and the longer our supplies lasts, which means less trips out of the building. They can’t stay,” he says from the lazy chair, not even looking up from the book he has been reading. “Where are they gonna go, though?” “That’s not our problem, we can’t worry ourselves with things like that,” he says, trying to defend himself, trying to keep his blinders on – he is a very strategic man, so I know playing the humanity card isn’t going to work. “Okay, then let’s talk strategy. There are more of them than there are of us. And we could use their help.” “We don’t need help.” I raise an eyebrow at him, “Aiden they almost double us, and they have manpower we could really use. In terms of brawn here it’s just you me.” It’s the hard truth – everyone pitches in how they can, but we lack any real confrontational skills. Aiden has a loud bark but no bite; physically he’s fat and slow, and on top of that he is hot-headed and myopic. We need their help. He seems to think about it for a moment. “More mouths to feed,” he mumbles. “Aiden half these apartments are filled with supplies, we’re like a fucking doomsday shelter.” “Exactly! Because it’s doomsday!” he huffs. “My point is, it’s not like we’re exactly starving. What we are lacking is protection, more brainpower, more guns. And should we get low on supplies we’ll be better equipped to make runs for it.” Aiden is quiet. He is very distrusting of outsiders, but I can tell he knows that I have a point. “It takes a village, Aiden – there are benefits to being in smaller groups, but not as many as being in bigger groups. If Allen was right, that today’s burning was just the beginning of the destruction of Portland, we’re gonna need their help – we shouldn’t be so quick to separate from help when it’s so rare. Nobody can make it out here alone.” Nobody but nobody. I turn to leave him alone with his thoughts for the night, which is pretty much all you can do with Aiden. We’ll just have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out his verdict. I close the door behind me and turn to start walking down the hallway, back to my own place, and I almost knock her down. We bump right into each other. “Sorry,” she says, taking a step back. I smile at her. “You again. We just can’t stop running into each other, can we?” “It would seem so.” She glances over her shoulder. “Anna, right?” She nods. “Jamie.” “Bingo.” This is not going as well as I had hoped. She winces into a smile, which quickly disappears. She rocks on her feet for a second, and then seems to remember her purpose in coming downstairs. “Say, you got a car battery? I’m just trying to charge my iPod. It’s the little things you know?” “I might have one laying around, but only if you tell me what you listen to. Let me guess – Edward Sharpe. Beirut. Fleet Foxes. Uh…Black Keys,” I try to think of the coolest music I can. She looks like a cool girl, so I figure. She starts to laugh at me and then her face completely straightens. “Mozart.” “No shit, really?” “Well, and Vivaldi, Handel, Rossini…Gershwin, Brahms. Any and all. Rachmaninoff.” “Huh,” I grin widely at her. “What, too dorky?” “No, it’s just…well, will you think I’m hitting on you if I play the ‘no way, me too!’ card?” “Probably.” “In that case, yes, too dorky. But I’ll give you a battery anyway,” I concede and turn to lead her down the hallway, waving over my shoulder. “Follow me!” I take a set of keys out of my pocket and start searching through the one for room 455. “Gotta say, I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t mention Berlioz or Liszt. What kind of classical music geek are you?” I shake my head in feigned disapproval as I continue flipping through the keys. “Well, neither of them is classical, actually – Berlioz and Liszt are romantic era composers.” I pause and look at her. “Fun fact.” She smiles and shrugs her shoulders. “And Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique happens to be one of my favorites, now that you mention it.” I shake my head again, this time laughing. Her smile broadens and I can tell she’s in her element, “Not sure how I would have responded if I were Harriet Smithson, though. Not wooed, that’s for sure.” “So you’re saying it’s not typically a good idea to compare the woman you love to a witch?” “Probably not.” “Yeah, but it worked for him didn’t it?” “Until they divorced.” “Fair point.” The next key I try is the right one, and I open the door to 455, walk in, and start looking around. It takes me a minute to realize she hasn’t followed me in. “You can come in if you want.” She cautiously steps through the threshold. “How do you have all of this stuff?” Oh, right. “Aiden isn’t defensive for no reason. We stockpiled, or hoarded, whatever you want to call it. Back at the start – he’s a very strategic guy.” “Are you looters?” she asks, the tone of her voice has changed: from relaxed and jovial to wavering and anxious. Just a minute ago she trusted me, now I can tell she isn’t so sure. “No, no – absolutely not. We just, I don’t know, got lucky, were smart.” She looks around, taking it all in – the boxes of food, the soap, the weapons. I turn back around to the box I’m rummaging through until I find her a battery. “Here we go, one car battery.” I hold it up triumphantly for her. She steps forward to take it from me, and for a moment we are both holding it – I forget to let go. We’re so close I can see her eyes, which are grey and stormy, and I can see the scattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks. “Great, well…thanks for this!” she says finally, and I relinquish the battery. I expect her to struggle with the weight of it, but she barely flinches. “Sure thing,” I say, following her towards the door and running a hand through my hair. Jamie, you idiot. I walk with her to the stairwell. She stops and looks back at me earnestly. “Goodnight, Jamie.” “Yeah, ‘night Anna.” She disappears up the stairs. I don’t go back to my room just yet, I’m frozen, thinking. I hear another voice in the stairwell a few moments later, and recognize it as her boyfriend’s. What was his name? Right, Paul. Who does he think he is, one of the Beatles? “Were you talking to someone?” he asks her. “Just Georgia, she gave me a battery to charge my iPod with.” “Oh, I thought I heard -” “Nope, just me and Georgia.” “That was nice of her.” “Yeah, it was.” A pause. “You ready to go to bed, babe?” “Yeah, let’s go.” When I can tell they are both gone, I turn to walk back to my room. She lied to him, and I don’t know how to feel about it. She didn’t want him to know she was with me, which means she thinks there’s something to hide. It’s late, so I decide to turn in for the night. What a crazy day – so crazy I can hardly believe it. I found the girl – or, rather, she found me. And now I know her name. And she’s under the same roof as me tonight. And I gave her a car battery. And she likes Mozart, too. As I lay in my bed trying to fall asleep, to calm myself down and clear my thoughts, Maya Angelou’s words are still running circles in my head.

Now if you listen closely

I’ll tell you what I know

Storm clouds are gathering

The wind is gonna blow

The race of man is suffering

And I can hear the moan,

‘Cause nobody,

But nobody

Can make it out here alone

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