You had been traveling with Joel for a few months now and it
still felt like you didn’t know him at all. He wasn’t much of a talker and when
you did ask questions they seemed to put him in a bad mood. You had to find
ways to entertain yourself which consisted of things like singing to yourself or
counting the stars in the sky.
“Why do you do that?” Joel asks one day out of nowhere.
“Sing to yourself.” He stops walking and looks at you.
“I just…I have to find ways to feel better. Singing reminds
me of…the way things were.” You start to get choked up so you stop talking and
“Sing somethin’ for me,” he says in the gentlest voice you’ve
ever heard him speak in.
“What?” You give a sad laugh and look at him but he was
serious. “I-I don’t know. What do you want me to sing?”
“Whatever you like.” He watches you and you feel like you’re
standing in front of a room full of people. You close your eyes and start to
sing. Your voice is a little shaky at first but as you sing more, it gets
better. You finally get the courage to open your eyes and you see that Joel is
still watching you. He’s looking at you in a way you weren’t used to.
As you finish the song, the tears you were holding back
finally spill from your eyes and you try to wipe them away quickly. “Sorry I’m
so emotional.” You roll your eyes and look at your feet. Suddenly Joel is in
front of you and wrapping his arms around you.
“It’s okay,” he says, his voice full of emotion. He sniffles
quietly and you tense. Was he crying? No, he couldn’t be.
“Joel…are you okay?”
He’s quiet for a long time then clears his throat and moves
away from you, not making eye contact. “You have a…beautiful voice.” He still
won’t look at you but you can hear the sadness in his voice.
“Thank you but…”
“I’m getting bad
vibes…we should go,” he says while looking around. You only nod and follow
as he walks away. You wanted to make sure he was okay but you knew he would say
yes even if he wasn’t.
You walk until it’s dark and he finds a place for you guys
to spend the night. He takes the first watch and you lie down with your back to
him. He moves around a bit then goes still and starts humming the song you sang
earlier. You stay as still as possible so he would think you were sleeping.
His humming was enough to lull you to sleep but not before
you heard him sniffling again and saying sorry over and over again tearfully.
You weren’t sure what he was sorry for or who he was saying sorry to but you
cried for him quietly until you fell asleep.
sarah, the last of us; dear dad, let’s see — you’re never around, you hate the music i’m into, you practically despise the movies i like, and yet somehow you still manage to be the best dad every year. how do you do that! happy birthday pops.