In life there are always lessons to be learned. Some of these lessons are easy to come by and others are a bit more difficult to handle. Some shape us in influential ways while others are forgotten as quickly as a passing wind. In this hell brought existence that we all now face there are constant lessons to deal with. Each lesson serves to teach us something. How we choose to utilize what we’ve learned is up to each individual person. Make no mistake about it however, there are no easy lessons left for us. That is a luxury long since past.
Her name was Stephanie. I encountered her by chance one night as I snuck into a Pathmark. There was a back entrance to the parking lot of a Pathmark not too far from where I was currently hiding out. I managed to sneak through the parking lot and through some careful maneuvering of a few dumpsters I found my way onto the roof through a ladder in the back. I barely made it ten steps on the roof before I heard the shotgun cock behind me. I thought I was a goner for sure. At the very least this guy was going to strip me of all my tools and weapons and toss me back out there with these damn things and this whole trip would have been a waste. As the gun pressed up against my back I heard a voice say “Are you bitten?” It wasn’t a man’s voice at all. It was soft, light and yet every bit as deadly serious as the shotgun. “No, no I’m not bitten. Look I don’t want any trouble I was just looking for food. I didn’t know anyone was up here. I can leave, just let me walk away.” She grabbed my arm and turned me slowly around toward her. I’ll never forget the first glimpse of her. She was about 5’3 flowing chestnut brown hair, eyes to match and perfectly tanned skin; not too dark, not too bright orange, just a perfect golden shine to her. She had this simple yet somehow perfect yellow dress on complimenting the curves of her body so perfectly it was hard to imagine anyone else ever being able to wear the same dress. “How did you get up here?,” she asked me. “It wasn’t all that hard I just had to move some dumpsters around. If I were you I’d think twice about staying up here for too long.” I could tell she didn’t appreciate some stranger critiquing her choice of camp but the look on her face told me she knew I was right. “Well I’ve been up here for almost a month,” she said to me, “and you’re the first person to make it up here.” I found this to be quite a nice compliment. I guess not everyone could navigate through the zombie infested streets the way I could.
“Look I didn’t mean to come up here and take anything from you. I didn’t even know anyone was camping out up here, although I am upset I didn’t think to hide a bit closer to a supermarket myself. I just wanted to go in and grab some food for myself if there was any left. Do you think you can let me do that?” She looked at me for a second and said “Well it depends, what’s in it for me?” Now in all honesty I had nothing to give this girl at all. She had me beat on weapons, food and apparently ingenuity as well since it took me less than ten steps before she had her shotgun close enough to remove my kidney. However, my hide out was something I had and I know it served a lot better in terms of protection than some roof that anyone could climb up onto. I was in a secure attic with no way of being seen from the outside. “I can let you hide out with me, away from this open roof. I’m alone in my space and it’s getting cold out here. We would have plenty of room for the two of us and I know this cold weather can’t be helping you sitting out on this roof. Besides I know how to get to and from this supermarket without being seen. We could constantly restock our supplies.” It was a hopeless effort trying to coax this girl off her safety zone which had kept her alive this long, but I had to try something. “OK” she shrugged at me and simply started to gather whatever she had sprawled out on the roof. That’s it? That’s all it took? There was something about this girl that intrigued me. Something I couldn’t put my finger on, but I knew I wanted to know more.