My hands shake a lot less these days, so that's something. Can't say as I expect it to last long, though, was a long time ago I stopped accepting good things without expecting something bad to go along with them. Jen says I need to stop being so pessimistic, though, so I guess I'll bury that thought deep. She's sleeping now, curled up in the corner of the bed of the truck. The beauty and softness of her face is so at odds with the chaos that flies by behind her at 60mph. I want to talk to her, but when someone's sleeping, you don't wake them. Jeff made that rule, had to be... damn I don't know, 200 days ago now? Anyways it was a morning like any other, I was the first one to wake up. I started packing up my sleep kit, and slowly everyone else started to wake up. Jeff woke, then Justin, Jen pretty soon after. Julie and Julian got up maybe 20 minutes later, and it was just June, still sleeping. We must've given him a good 45 minutes longer to sleep, but after that, I mean, we had to get moving, you know? So Jen goes to wake him up, her face the prettiest, voice the softest. So she goes real gentle-like, shaking June's shoulder, tellin him to wake on up, we gotta hit the road again. At first he was just... dead, it seemed. She started shakin harder, talkin louder, and nothin from June. Then all of a sudden his eyes just flew open, like she fired a gun next to his ear or something. He jumped to his feet, screaming bout how all he has left is his sleep, it's the only time he sees his little girl anymore, and how could we take that from him. Jeff tried to calm him down, tell him we didn't mean anything by it, but June wasn't hearin it. He just grabbed up his sleep kit and started walking the other direction. We called after him, Jen especially, yelling she was sorry, begging him to come back, but he just kept goin. Never saw June after that, and though i hope he's doin well, I know he's not. Maybe he's with his little girl now, that'd be something. Anyways, that night when we were laying down to sleep, Jeff said nobody's waking anyone up, ever again. He said this world's a hard enough place nowadays, and if a man or woman's sleepin, we'll let them sleep, even if it means we wait 2,3, or 4 hours to get the day started.
I think about that, and look back at Jen. I wish the rule didn't apply to her, because if anyone seems to be happy enough awake, it's Jen. Been 2 or 3 years going, and i've still never seen her sad or angry. Hell, I've never seen Jen anything BUT happy. When i first met her it was annoying, and I thought it was an act. You know the people, they think that if they try real hard, pretend to be happy about everything, then they'll actually become happy? Never works out for em' in the end, and they always end up more bitter and jaded then the rest. For the first 6 months I knew Jen, I waited. Every day, I waited for her to crack, for her to finally throw her hands in the air and say what we all already knew: that this world, they finally killed it, and there isn't nothing that's gonna bring it back. Even Jeff, with all his plans of rounding up a goodly sized group and startin a town, he's gotta know it'll never happen. So anyways, after about 6 months, it hit me. I wanted so badly for Jen to crack, for her to cave in to depression, because it bothered me, how happy she always was. It downright killed me, to see someone who could so easily look past the hopelessness. Her joy and love of life shined a bright light on how empty of those things I was. After I realized that, I realized that she would never change.
Ever since I realized that about myself, I started to take Jen a little more seriously, and I started to really get to know her. Now she's probably my closest friend out of our little outfit. I know Jeff doesn't like for us to do that, get close to each other, but I really care for Jen. You sit and talk to Jen for a while... you forget, is best i can say it. You don't really 'talk' to Jen. You listen. You might say a thing or two, just to get her goin, but the best thing about Jen is that she'll just talk to you. She likes to talk about before, she likes to talk about her old life. It's funny, she'll tell the same story over and over, and every time, she tells it like it happened yesterday. I could listen to Jen talk for hours. When she's talking, I can close my eyes and forget the day of fire. I can forget that we've driven for 28 straight days without seeing a soul, and I can forget that we'll probably go another 28 before we do see someone. Sometimes, just sometimes, I'll close my eyes while Jen's telling a story, and I imagine that we're just two friends, headin down the highway towards some theme park, or to some great natural attraction. I'll keep my eyes closed and imagine that there's fields on either side of us, great huge green fields, with cows or horses, houses dotting the hills. I'll get to where i can actually smell the grass, the scent riding the wind up to my nostrils. I wanna keep my eyes closed to prolong the fantasy, but i wanna open them, just in case... just in case. Every time I do it, I open my eyes to see the wasteland, and every time I do it that girl is smiling at me. She knows exactly what I'm doing, and although she says she doesn't like that I do it, she knows it just makes me sad, I think that secretly it pleases her. I think it pleases her, knowing that she can talk me into believing none of this ever happened, even if only for a moment.