Every once in a while, a house would appear to the right or left. But mostly, the town looked almost abandoned. I grew up in a populated city, so I didn’t understand where everybody went.
“Where did everyone go?” I asked, now looking out at the snow-covered roofs.
Garrett chuckled. “What do you mean? Everyone’s here, there’s just not a lot of us. Nobody really works here, either. We all work somewhere else but come back to live here. Most of the folks here fish, deliver mail like we do, or work at shops closer to the city.”
I made a sound of acknowledgement. I guessed during the weekdays, which was probably that day, nobody was around. I wondered who the hell worked at the hospital, then.
“Did you grow up here?” I asked. His life was so different than mine. Or, then what mine used to be. I couldn’t imagine living here.
“Oh, uh, yeah. You could say I learned my way around here pretty easily. I knew that forest like the back of my hand. When I was younger, Pa would teach me anything that had to do with the outdoors, and Ma homeschooled my sis and me. I’d say that’s a pretty big feat, figuring we were a handful,” Garrett laughed.
I looked up at him. He had a small smile planted on his face, looking reminiscent. I imagined him when he was growing up, walking around the forest or something. I sort of wished I had that kind of upbringing. He seemed like he didn’t have a care in the world.
Garrett gave me a side-eye, looked back at the road, then looked at me again.
“Why. . . are you staring at me? Again?”
“He does that a lot,” Charlie quipped.
I suddenly burst out laughing, which made Charlie and Garrett laugh too. I hadn’t felt that good in a while. When you survive a few weeks out in the cold with nothing but water and berries, the smallest things seem funny to you. I remembered my first few moments with Holly, when she caught me staring at her. Somehow, that made me feel a bit nostalgic.
“I know,” Garrett continued, “It’s hard not to stare when you’re this beautiful.”
We both let out some quick laughs as Garrett spun the wheel, turning into the smallest hospital I had ever seen at the time. We saw Abigail’s truck already there, taking up multiple parking spots. One of the doors were a crack open. That meant they got out in a hurry. That meant bad news.
Garrett parked his car parallel to Abigail’s, almost blocking the entrance. He urged us to get out faster when he noticed how the must’ve left in a hurry. When I hopped down onto the pavement, the cold that had almost brought me to my knees a couple days ago hit my body once again, reminding me of where I was just hours before.
We ran inside, half because of the cold, half because of Holly. When we pushed the doors opened, we were greeted with warmth. Charlie and I were still not used to running like that, as we were both breathing heavily from our noses. Garrett made his way to the front, his hands slapping the top of the desk. The receptionist was caught off guard. I didn’t hear what Garrett had to say, though.
Charlie and I almost immediately fell on the waiting room chairs after hearing that Holly was being treated. Apparently, Abigail and Will were let into the room as well, but we weren’t allowed. Five’s a crowd in this small hospital.
So then, it was just us again in the waiting room. Charlie asked where the bathroom is. Hey, we all had our natural urges. It’s not like we didn’t go out in the forest, we’d just leave randomly and do our stuff. Toilet paper would never be a thing I thought I would love so dearly when I didn’t have it on hand.
So then there were two.ns126.96.36.199da2