After that night, Zeke and I were inseparable. He introduced me to everyone in the caves and gave me a more detailed tour. I also found out what Joe had meant when he told Zeke he had to “talk to Matt about the corn”; they had a vegetable garden inside the caves! The room where they grew their crops was very well lit, and they had created an irrigation system to keep everything from drying out! The more Zeke showed me, the more amazed I became. It was incredible down here! Being with Zeke made it all the better. After waking up in his arms, the morning after I cried on him, I had to accept the fact that I was in love…or at least…very deep in “like.” However, I was afraid that he wouldn’t reciprocate the feeling. My fears were quickly replaced with pleasure, though, when he took my hand wordlessly and kissed the top of my head.
I loved it here. Something about the caves made me feel…alive again!
One day, while I was shucking corn, I found myself in a particularly good mood. So, I did something I hadn’t in over three years; I sang.
“So, shut up, shut up, shut up,
Don’t wanna hear it!
Get out, get out, get out,
Get out of my way!
Step up, step up, step up,
You’ll never stop me!
Nothing you say today is gonna bring me down!”
“Are you…are you singing?” asked Zeke, hearing my outburst.
Blushing, I replied “Yes. I kind of got carried away. Sorry, I’ll stop.”
“No, please! Sing some more!” he exclaimed. “Your face brighten right up when you sing! I haven’t seen you this happy since…well, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy!”
Smiling, I teasingly asked if he had any requests.
“Hmmm…do you know…”The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars?”
I scoffed. Do I know it!
“Today I don’t feel like doing anything!” I paused to laugh after someone joined in and whistled.
“I just wanna lay in my bed!
Don’t feel like picking up my phone,
So leave a message at the tone,
‘Cause today I don’t feel like doing anything…”
Pretty soon everyone was putting in requests for songs they wanted me to sing. It was a bit overwhelming; I had never sung in front of a crowd before. It certainly did liven up the caves, though.
When I was by myself, however, my singing expressed how I was feeling. Knowing that I may never get back the life I had before the aliens: “Kiss It All Better” by He is We. Thinking about Zeke and Joe finding me: “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne. My thrilled mood when I finally got to take a bath: “Tonight Tonight” by Hot Chelle Rae. I even sang the Pokemon Theme song a few times.
My life was, somewhat, back to normal.
I had been living happily in the caves for a few months now. But not today.
Looking down at my hands, I sighed. Where are you, Zeke? I wondered.
A few weeks ago, Zeke, Joe, Caulin, TJ, Tim, Nico, and Dylan all went raiding. Our food supply was running low and we needed some medical supplies. I wanted to go too, but Zeke was dead set on me staying. I missed him terribly.
Sighing, I remembered our conversation about the raid.
“Nicole?” I could hear him coming from down the hall but I didn’t answer; I was still sulking. “Nicole? I know you’re in there!” Walking through the doorway he sighed. “Nicole, why didn’t you answer me?”
I turned my head away from him. It was petty and childish, but I was giving him the silent treatment.
Sighing, Zeke sat next to me. “I’ve told you a thousand times, Nicole. The only reason you aren’t coming on the raid is that I don’t want you getting hurt!”
“But you guys could use me! I’ve told you a thousand times that I won’t get hurt!” Oops. So much for the silent treatment, I thought. I never was one to keep quiet for very long…
“I know, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you got hurt.” Zeke embraced me and I sighed. I didn’t like worrying him, but I was worried for him too!
“I’m just so scared that you won’t come back. I don’t know what I would do if—“ I couldn’t even finish the thought. It was heart wrenching.
“I swear, Nicole. I will come back to you. I don’t care what I have to do, but I will not let you down!” His voice was so fierce. I looked up at him and saw that his eyes blazing; he really meant it. I knew that there was no way I would win this argument.
Sighing in defeat, I squeezed him as tightly as I could and whispered two words:
They had been gone for three weeks now and I was sick with worry. I hadn’t sung in a while; I was too depressed. Everyone tried to console me, saying that they were normally gone for this long, but it didn’t help. I would feel better with Zeke’s hand back in mine.
I was on my way to help make some bread, when someone came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see Faith, a huge grin plastered onto her face.
“Just thought you might like to know…they’re back!” She had barely finished her sentence before I was racing through the caves, looking for Zeke. I didn’t notice someone standing in my way until we had both crashed to the ground.
“Sorry,” I started, rubbing my head. I never got to finish apologizing, though, because when I looked up, I saw a mop of brown hair that I would know anywhere.
No, it isn’t possible! My thought raced. How did he get here?! I had dreamt of him just the other night and now he was sitting in front of me, nursing his wounds, so to speak! I tried to say something to him, but all that came out was a garbled, choking sound. Clearing my throat, I tried again.