Part Three of Three
AN: Edited because I am never happy when I reread something. There were things I wanted to smooth out and adjust. Sorry, I didn't mean to have to repost it but I zigged where I should have zagged in the document manager.
Sitting in the gloom wasn't helping. She had enough of the darkness. Her memories were fuzzy after losing T-Dog, and honestly, she didn't want to remember them. There wasn't anything about the experience she wanted to dwell on. The simple fact was that she was found. It was a good memory and it was vivid. It was something she could hold onto.
It was time to get out of the damn prison and go outside and breathe some fresh air. Beth insisted on doing everything herself and even seemed to have taken on the role as caregiver for lil'asskicker. Everyone wanted Carol to take time to rest, but Carol couldn't take the time knowing there was something she needed to do.
Rick told her T-Dog and Lori each had graves marked outside.
We bury the ones we love.
They'd lost so many friends already, and there never seemed to be any end in sight; just periods of stillness until the next horror began. After the initial shock when she saw the baby and learned about Lori, she'd just felt numb. The pain of loss had become her constant companion and she needed to remember it was okay to grieve and let go. T-Dog died in a horrible way, and Lori too. Seeing their graves might or might not help her come to terms with that, but she knew she needed to try.
Good memories were difficult to find sometimes, but they were there.
It felt good to be up and moving and that first breath of fresh air was beyond refreshing even though she still felt weak and unsteady. Carol stepped outside and glanced up at the guard tower where Daryl was keeping watch. Knowing he was up there watching made her feel safe.
It was a beautiful day, one of those days with only a couple of puffs of clouds in the sky and a light breeze in the air. On these days she would take long walks while Sophia was in school. She would walk down to the park and... it felt like another lifetime.
The markers stood out against the otherwise flat grounds, but there weren't two of them, there were three. A cold fear clenched her stomach, who did she miss? A mental checklist of the faces of her friends flashed through her head, and she knew she hadn't forgotten anyone. Who was the third?
Detail became clear the closer she got. Three markers made of scraps of wood tied together into little crosses.
Carol bowed her head and recited a bible verse she'd learned long ago. Even though she didn't know what to believe anymore. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
T-Dog. There was no name, but someone had placed a pile of stones in the grass, and on top of that a key chain bearing the name of the church he'd once belonged to.
Lori. An effort had been made to collect some of the flowering weeds growing near the fence and had scattered them at the foot of the cross.
The third grave was marked with a small half circle of white stones with a white flower in the middle. The edges of the petals were already drying and wilted, but Carol had no trouble recognizing it for what it was. The Cherokee Rose. She didn't need to guess who'd put that there.
"Didn't realize you'd be out and about already. I meant to take that down before you'd see it."
Carol didn't look up. Daryl stepped around her, pulled the marker out of the ground, and tossed it out into the field of tall grass. He scattered the semi circle of stones forming the first letter of her name into the dirt with his shoe. "There ain't no one buried here."
But she rescued the rose. "I'll keep this."
He was glaring at her again. An expression she remembered at one time interpreting differently before she got to know him. It wasn't an expression of hate or disdain, just his confusion over emotions that she now understood he had no idea how to process. She smiled and he frowned even deeper.
"What did you bury here?" She asked, and watched his eyes return to the mound of dirt in front of them. "Someone went through the effort to dig a hole for something."
"You scarf. We found it next to..." He looked over at T-Dog's grave. "We found it and assumed."
"I didn't realize you were so attached to it." She joked, and finally earned a slight smile from him in response.
"I'm just glad that you weren't. I don't know how many of those nine lives you've got left."