Sorry for getting this up a day late! Yesterday ended up being extremely busy, and I wasn’t able to write anything at all. I had to go to bed earlier as well, in order to be fully rested for my Honors College interview today. But, I’m posting this now, as I promised. This is the last 500 words of the 50,000 I wrote for NaNoWriMo.
“How is your leg doing, Jesse? Any improvement?” I ask softly as we walk.
“Mr. Mullen is hopeful that I’ll regain a good bit of motion in it, and I’m doing all I can to ensure that happens. But we wont really know until it decides to tell us. There’s only so much we can do to promote healing… especially here.” She replies, her voice in its taught-to-be-low voice that completes the male charade she nearly constantly carries, yet still bright and bouncy. Too much so.
“Jesse… no disrespect, but that’s not what I asked, sir.” I say gently, looking at her back. She stops, and slowly turns to face me. Her facade bears every trace of exhaustion, from the blue bags beneath her eyes to the lines across her brow. She sighs deeply, running a hand over her face before meeting my gaze.
“Honestly… it’s frustrating… and… well, a bit frightening. I mean, John and I are doing the best we can to help it heal, but any improvement is slight and a long time in coming. That shot… it just did so much damage, and our resources are so limited, we can’t know for sure if it will ever heal properly. And if it doesn’t… How will I lead my men Jude? How will I do my part? How will I keep my men and myself safe? It’s a harsh world out there and…” She sighs again and cuts herself off, shaking her head and pasting on a smile again. Just like Ginger, in a way. The thought pains me, but I keep my focus on Jesse.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to unload on you like that. Don’t worry about me, Jude. I’ll be fine. You already saved me once, remember? I’m already indebted to you for that. Really, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine, whatever happens.” Her smile becomes more genuine, and I smile back, content with the answer. Such a strong little creature, handling all that pain and all that fear without complaint.
“You alright Jude?” Jesse asks, looking at me with concern.
“I’m fine. I… I’m glad you could unload that, Jesse. No one should have to bear a load like that alone. It’s not right, and it’s not healthy. I may only be a rookie, but I’m always happy to lend an ear. We each have a life to live, we all have fears. Not even the great Jesse is bulletproof.” I respond, silencing Judas with a shake of the head. She gives me a funny look, and I blush.
“Sorry! That was a poor choice of words.” She laughs, and I join her.
“Jude, you really are too kind. And you crack me up. You’re just so funny and easy to talk to. Thanks for the ear.” She smiles, and we walk on towards the range.
By the time we arrive, the others have begun to fall into line, waiting. Jesse sits nearby, and we collect our weapons.