stream of consciousness five

I must give her, her dues though. I always liked her and she lasted longer than some of the others did. When this all first started we congregated together, there were many of us. Twenty and now there are five. Since we lost her though we haven’t lost anyone else. I remember a little. The first of our group to go was the cousin of one of those I hold dear who we have also lost now. A fifteen year old boy who I had never met before and whose name I didn’t have time to learn. Dominic, Damien, David.. I can’t remember. I know he was fifteen because the day I met him it was his birthday. In the old times he looks like he would have been in the popular group at school, tall for his age with a cutting edge haircut and very trendy shoes. I remember the shoes, I tried to guess how much they would have cost, probably more than I would ever have paid for shoes. In these new times though he looked just like what he was, a frightened child who shook and wept and was still. All he said for the first few hours was

It’s my birthday today.
I’m fifteen years old.

I felt sorry for him, part of me considered as one of the few women I should probably do the maternal bit to make him feel better but it’s unnatural to me. As sorry for him as I felt I didn’t feel that molly coddling the poor boy would do him any real favours. What would be best was if he snapped out of it. Got on with things. Do what you have to do to survive. It’s a cold way of thinking maybe but it’s this exact characteristic the five of us had from the start. The girlfriend, the one we lost, she hugged the boy for a while but I do not consider there was any real warmth in these actions. I’m not saying that she was a bad person who didn’t want to make him feel better. There isn’t one of us who doesn’t dearly wish we could have held him and told him he would be alright. But it would have been a hollow gesture without meaning or sincere feeling and if you were to ask me to do this would be a far colder thing. I dearly hoped he would realize what he had to do but he never did. He ran away the day after the first day. I thought I saw him on one of our forages once. I thought I saw what was left of him. I didn’t tell anyone else. I don’t know if anyone else saw. We have no time to mourn.