Yesterday was my birthday, the second I've had since the zombie plague came. It was also one of the days we were asked to stay inside while a shipment came. We complied, obviously--we have no desire to antagonize our hosts. Not only for the sake of fanning the flames of friendship we've started here, but also for practical reasons: we really want to trade for metal at some point. Eventually the easily recycled stuff will run out, and iron will be a much needed commodity.
From what we could hear inside the small home we're staying in, things didn't go smoothly. There was a lot of muffled argument filtering through our windows. We couldn't make out the words, but the tones were extremely harsh. I didn't hear any fighting erupt, but then the visitors and our hosts were moving as we heard them. Anything could have happened a hundred yards away and we'd never know about it.
That said, none of the natives seem concerned. No one looks like violence happened yesterday. No one seems upset. So either nothing happened, or the people here are universally unconcerned with it. I give that a small chance of being the case, and that only because Georgetown is culturally pretty stoic. Restrained.
We made the best of it, though. Will and Rachel had the forethought to bargain for some supplies, trading an extra bow for cake mix, milk, eggs, and a can of icing. Bill, it turns out, loves to bake. The mental image of the wandering preacher, a tough as nails, desert-tanned zombie killing machine and survivalist, will forever be marred by the actual memory of him humming as he moved about the kitchen making my birthday cake.
It was a pretty good cake, too.
I wasn't expecting presents, but again I was surprised by my team. Will gave me a weapon he traded for here in Georgetown--a steel spike, about a foot long, with a grip on it and a guard to keep my hand from slipping down when I use it. The hilt is tapered and has a split chisel tip, which lets me use it as a prybar.
Bill made the cake, which was present enough. Rachel gave me a small journal she'd written a story in, just for me. That's a hell of a thing. Steve, who has a lot of practical experience with massage therapy, worked out some of the kinks in my upper back. Becky gave me three homemade grenades. She's so sweet.
We sat in our little house and played games, talked for hours, and ate food. For a time we weren't teammates, survivors, or any of that. We were just friends. Five who knew each other well, one who we enjoyed getting to know a little better. Those kinds of days are much more rare now, but they're so much sweeter for that. It's been a long while since I've felt...how do I put it? Special? Pampered? I'm leading the team, so I'm usually the center of attention, but it was really nice for it to be a wholly positive and stress free kind of attention for once.
I'll fully admit, it was nice to have what felt like an old-school birthday. For the day to be just about me. Everyone had a good time, and I'm thrilled about that. I love seeing people smile and have a good time, and the memory of my friends, old and new alike, sitting around a table together with no concern more pressing than making each other laugh is one that will sustain me. One I will cherish.
It was a good day.