[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
Carolyn stayed silent for what seemed like a long time—almost all the way to the bridge itself—her gaze distant, thoughtful. I almost didn’t think that she’d say anything and my stomach roiled as I wondered if I’d somehow made a mistake in telling her what I’d seen.
When she finally spoke, her voice was soft and low, as if she feared someone might overhear us—so quiet that it was almost inaudible over the sound of the branches rustling above the ravine. “I remember hearing about that night,” she said. “It feels like it was forever ago. We were sophomores. Your parents had been dating for a few months at the time. Your mom used to go hiking in the ravines a lot—it started our freshman year. I used to go with her every so often. It was when we were sophomores that more and more of us used to go, though. Usually, it was only in daylight. It wasn’t until maybe end of September that sophomore year that they started to go at night, and it was only a few of them—her and your dad, Drew, Kellin, Rory. I don’t really remember who else. Jay might have gone once or twice. We don’t talk about it.”
“Why not?” I murmured.
“Why would we?” she countered. “Oh, Lin. It stopped mattering within a couple years of the world ending. We had you guys to worry about, the village, surviving? The only things that mattered from back then were what we’d learned and what we wanted to pass on. Those nighttime hikes weren’t something we dwelled on anymore, not after those first couple years.”
“Because it was quiet,” I said. “Because there was peace?”
“Such as it was,” Carolyn said. “And things had changed. None of it was the same anymore.”
“But I saw them,” I whispered. “I saw them down there, Aunt Caro.”