combat vest

Survival of the Fittest

Even in a post-apocalyptic world, the FW15 Sons of William collection is a must-have. Combat boots, bullet-proof vests, and waterproof hoodies put function and fashion on equal planes. Every item serves a serious purpose, including heavy duty hats and a backpack with solar power capabilities. 

See the entire collection for yourself on Milk Made

(Photo by Mitchell McLennan)

Omnipresent

Dying wasn’t so bad.

Actually that was a complete fucking lie. Dying was horrible. It turns out that when you explode, when you turn into gooey confetti, you can feel each part of yourself wink out as your nerves fizzle out. Oops, there go my fingernails, eyelashes, liver, heart. Brain.

But the thing about dying is, it’s a one-time deal. A few endless seconds and you never have to deal with it or be afraid of it ever again. But being dead, that’s the part that goes on. That’s the one that’s hard.

If there’s a heaven, if there’s a hell, Abbie never found it. Or maybe she did. Maybe getting to watch her loved ones was both her reward and her punishment.

She got to watch Jenny and Joe get married. Her sister wore combat boots and a vest, but wove flowers into their hair.

Their daughter had Joe’s eyes and Jenny’s big mouth and Abigail for a middle name.

She had to watch them all mourn, of course. The tears and the anger and the drinking too much. The visits to a grave with no body.

Joe took it hard. Jenny took it harder. But they were pragmatists. They knew the risks. And they knew that Abbie had known them. They never stopped missing her, but they learned how to live without her.

But Crane. He took it hardest. She knew he would, ever since he said that “don’t” that meant something else entirely. Something she wished he’d said long before, back when there was still time.

But he hadn’t and she hadn’t figured it out and now here they were, her three years dead and him still having conversations with the space where she should have been.

He couldn’t see her, of course. Didn’t really think she could hear him. He just needed to pretend, sometimes. Needed to say his part out loud so he could imagine what she would have said back. Imagine what it would have been like if they’d both been a little faster, a little braver.

Abbie yelled at him. He couldn’t hear her either, but it made her feel better. She told him to get over it, move on, call Zoe or call someone better or take up Sudoku or something but to get living again.

Sometimes he remembered that he had to keep going. That he had to keep fighting. Duty kept him plodding forward, getting out of bed in the morning. But grief drained so much of the curiosity and the spark from him.

She cheered every time he laughed. She took it as a personal victory every time he made a friend, conquered holding a regular job, forgot to talk to her for days at a time.

The more he forgot, the happier she was.

It took longer than she’d ever thought for him to join her. He lived out the seven years and then some. Twelve, to be exact, before he got sloppy and careless one night against a wraith and paid the price.

If she’d have had, you know, a body, it never would have happened.

But one minute there he was, writhing on the ground with a sucking chest wound. And the next he was beside her. Beautiful and young as the day when she’d last seen him with actual eyes.

She’d thought about what she’d say a thousand times. Sometimes in her head, their reunion was mushy, with tears and whispered words and tender embraces. Sometimes it was passionate, hard, demanding.

But seeing him there, seeing him how he used to be, the words just blurted out.

“Dumb move, letting your guard down like that. You never did remember to keep your off-hand up.”

“It was considerably less important when fighting an ill-trained infantryman from the arse-end of Cornwall than when fighting an undead abomination,” he snapped back just as quickly.

She laughed first. Then he did.

And then there was time for all the things they never said and never did and never shared.