Colin set foot on the bathroom tiles. He breathed in the air which started to smell a lot like expired raw meat which had sat in a freezer for a year. Bethany was sitting next to the pool of blood in the bathtub. He stared at her as she stared into Michael’s face immersed underwater. She sat on the lid of the toilet. Her back was utterly straight. Her posture was a lot like her. She was always firm, unwavering, focused. Colin remembered how she would never back down in an argument. She would push and push and move forward passionately, because in some obscure perfect light, Bethany was always right. She was always the moral temple that towered over all things when it came to family, when it came to Colin, when it came to everything. She was the epitome of a big sister. Colin never saw her this way. All those days when Colin looked up to his big sister for guidance just seemed to float off in some way. For the first time in Colin’s life, she really didn’t know what to do.
“Beth?” Colin’s voice softly bounced off the porcelain tiles on the walls and floor. “Beth we need to leave. . .”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry about Michael. We all loved Michael. He was great-” Colin stopped as he caught himself not helping. He heard Bethany sniffle quietly. Her body shook weakly.
“Those people outside, they’re good people. They know a lot more about what’s happening than we do. They know how to survive. They’ll protect us. They have weapons, they know people, and we’re going somewhere safe. You have to trust them, Beth.”
Colin stared quietly at his sister’s shoulders; they shook up every few seconds. Colin could still hear Bethany sniffling. She made quick tiny breaths when she exhaled. In some unpractical manner, her back never moved. Her spine was just stationary. Colin listened to the obvious tense build up in her breathing.
“I’m not going to leave you here. If you think you’re going to sit here alone and wait until those crazy things find you and kill you, you’re wrong! I’ll sit here. I’ll starve here! I’m going to let our one chance to keep on living drive out of the driveway and off into that street and leave us here. Do you want that?” Colin waited.
Colin continued to stare at the petrified image of his sister turned away from him, but then he started wondering how long everyone else was going to wait for them. He should’ve been back with Bethany by now. They should’ve been on the road by now. Colin leaned on the marble counter of the sink, gripping the edge with both of his hands. He felt a slight ringing of emotions in his throat. He wondered if this was it; if his sister finally gave up. He thought maybe he should leave her. Maybe she really wanted to wait out the hours watching Michael’s face until something killed her; the infected, hunger, maybe even her own emotions.
“I’m not going to leave you. You’re my sister-”
“You think I didn’t know?” Bethany’s voice ripped the unseasoned air with the sharp tones in her voice. “You really think I didn’t know. . .”
For a minute Colin couldn’t understand what she was saying. What did she not know? Bethany turned around. She stood up facing Michael, the tears on her face fell off her cheeks and continued to sink back into her neck. Her face was red. Her skin was red. The sad frustrated signs of failure that cracked into her eyes shattering every single thing she ever believed, was red.
“You really think this whole time we were driving around, I didn’t know about Michael. The random puking, the vomiting. How he was heavily wrapped in blankets half the time. How he never slept. You really think in the event that a disease that turned every single person into murderous monsters, that I would really be worried about some God damn food poisoning!”
Colin froze, his eyes sinking deeply into the back of his face.
“You don’t think that every night when we slept in that car, that I was wide awake. That I was praying, ‘please don’t take Michael! Please! You really think I didn’t realize what the hell was happening! My boyfriend was dying Colin! Dying! You know why we didn’t stop at a hospital? You know why we didn’t try to break into a pharmacy? Because I KNEW! I knew it was over, I knew it was over Colin. And I can’t take it anymore!”
Bethany slumped to her knees. She hung her head down as a stream of burning liquid fell onto the bathroom tiles from her eyes.
“You want me to go out there Colin? You want me to act like this is some sort of adventure. Finally! We don’t have to go to college, huh Colin? This is all fun for you! Never knowing what you want, living the unpredictable. Riding the God damn wave of life! I knew what I wanted! I planned out my whole life! How am I supposed to live like this? What’s out there for me? Why would anyone want to live like this?”
Colin walked over to Bethany as she continued to sob. A line of drool climbed down from her mouth. Colin knelt next to her and held her head in between his arms. She dug into Colin’s shoulder and yelled. Her tears started breaking into Colin’s shirt. She just couldn’t hold it anymore. All the things that she bottled up were never going to make sense anymore.
“. . . I don’t know what to do,” she whispered, “what am I supposed to do?”