Carol sat on the floor of the enclosed back porch of their house for the night. The cicadas were out in full force, filling the woods beyond the small yard with that familiar hum. They had broken the wooden rocking chairs to burn in their campfire, but the wooden floor was comfortable enough. It was comfortable enough for Maggie, who had wordlessly joined Carol on the back porch and laid down beside her, using Carol’s lap as a pillow.
Carol could see Hershel’s pocket watch clutched between her fingers, and she pursed her lips through a grimace, running her fingers through the young woman’s hair. Maggie had seen her father be executed right in front of her. One minute he had been alive, and the next, he was gone. She hadn’t gotten to say goodbye any more than Carol had. She needed to be held.
Maggie had no tears tonight; she was too exhausted. Carol didn’t coerce her into conversation, and the two women sat quietly together on the porch, listening to the sounds of the woods beyond the mosquito nets.
She combed Maggie’s bangs over her forehead, back behind her ear, and then over her forehead again, eventually rubbing her arm to try and soothe her. Her own eyelids were growing heavy, but her friend was in pain. She couldn’t do something so selfish as sleep now.
After a while, the screen door opened just enough for Daryl to poke his head through. Carol lifted her head to look at him. He took in her and Maggie, grieving together over the watch and feeling Hershel’s loss, and he wordlessly held up a bowl of food.
Carol offered a small smile, gesturing to the windowsill beside her. Daryl leaned over, not actually stepping out onto the porch, and deposited the bowl on the sill, along with a bottle of water. He gave her a nod and retreated, closing the screen door quietly after himself.
Maggie began to curl into herself a little more in her sleep, and Carol rested her hand on the crown of Maggie’s head. She reclined against the wall at her back, the ache in her heart growing.
Goodbye, my dear friend, she whispered to the clear night sky.