I did not look back. I would not, could not, look back. While I moved I reloaded the shotgun. After a few hundred yards, I readjusted the pack on my back. Should I risk the next town and see if I could find a better one? This one really did not help matters: the straps cut into my shoulders, and the outside pockets, which looked so cool, were either too small or too big to be of much use. But the next town could be just like the last town. I was tired of this. In a moment of distraction Jennie came back to haunt me. The look in her eyes, the gun shoved in her mouth. We had argued just moments before. her position was clear. She could always think many years ahead. I remember her making plans in Middle School, when she was 12 or 13, to buy a car. We all laughed. But for the next three or four years she saved every single dollar she got for allowance, did extra chores. She worked for that car. Now I could not stop the memories. That fine spring day at the school, with Jennie posing in front of the blue, second-hand Mustang. That was the make, model and color she wanted. By that time nothing that Jennie accomplished came as any surprise to any of us who knew her. She was more deliberate and determined than anyone I had ever met. She could, somehow, see with more clarity down the road than all of us. And once she set her mind on a goal, she would just chip away at it until she got it.
I wiped the tears from my face. Took a swig of water. Maybe she was right. She had always been so doggedly against the "Live for the moment" crowd. She called it "historical myopia." But there are times where having bad eyesight is to your advantage. Going out on a date with an ugly girl, or when the world collapses. Jennie saw it clearly. A few more decades of living on the run, scavenging what we could. And then death. Or perhaps the sudden death of an attack at night, or stumbling into a town only to find it still populated. And then death. Jennie, I think perhaps for the first time, saw death. And she knew how to get to her goal.
Me? I am too damn stubborn, too fearful. Me, I hold on to hope. Jennie never knew hope, she only knew progress. I think that now, the world is filled with the hopeful, those who shuffle around looking for a place to settle down, knowing there must be some place.
No matter how you look at it I cannot shake the thought that things will be better ahead than what I leave behind.