Alone

Jillian wrung her hands a little, carefully pressing the scraps of cloth around the rock, carefully tying the stray threads, putting them methodically into place and biting her lip in concentration. She smiles to herself and gently lays the dented and blackened wedding ring on top of it, petting the side of the rock. “There you are, Alice…” she murmured. “I missed you. You were always so nice to me…” she said. She turned, looking at all the other rocks. She sat Alice down between two rocks, both of which had small tufts of skin and fur laying on top of them, sticking up at odd angles. “And there are your rabbits, too!” she said, smiling and picking up piece of coal, stroking it absently.

“Good kitty…” she murmured. “Such a good kitty…”

A rock with two mismatched feathers; a piece of milky, silver scrap metal laying on a pebble; a clockwork finger, still curling and extended, sitting balanced on top of a tiny stone. She taps the bird on top of the head, grinning for a moment. “Caw!” she says, laying and chasing it with the piece of coal, smiling to herself in almost childlike wonder.

She sat there in the wreckage of the convoy, the hot Australian sun burning at her already red and scorched neck. She smiles, looking at a small rock with little bits of straw and plaid cloth a bound around it, setting Midnight aside. “Why thank you, Mr. Shank… You’re such a nice man…” she said, moving a piece of straw off of his zig-zagging smile. “Heh… Yes, I think you’re very pretty too,” she said, sighing softly. “Of course… I’d love to have some tea…”

Then she suddenly turned and glared at another stone, sternly scribbled face and a bullet casing wrapped around it in a scrap of fatigues. “Damn it, Jason!” Jillian shouts, grabbing the rock and shaking it in her hand. “Stop yelling at me for giving Mr. Shank tea!”

"No! He’s nice!” she screamed at him. All the other stones sat around her in a circle, looking at her. A silent ring of dead friends, watching her.

“No, fuck you!” she yells in fury, voicing half an argument that only she can hear. “He's mine, and I'll be as nice to him as I want to be!” She howls in anger, tears of frustration streaming down her face. She rears back, and hurls the rock as far as she can, her arm wrenching a little with the effort, all the little pieces of fabric—even the tiny, spent cartridge—flying off through the air.

Almost immediately, she regrets what she's done. She chases after the rock, looking for it. “Jason? Jason? I’m sorry, Jason…” she murmured, still sobbing. “Don’t be angry with me!” She reaches for him, picking him up—only to discover that this rock has no face. She tosses it aside and picks up another faceless rock. Horror and despair fill her gaze as her eyes finally perceive what lay around her: a field of rocks brown, sun baked rocks. “No…” she murmured. “No, Jason… Jason, please… TALK TO ME!” she screamed.

She falls to her knees, sobbing, heedless of the stone chips cutting into her. “Jason!” she screams again, tears streaming constantly now. “Come back, I'm sorry! Come back to me!” She picks through the field of rocks, casting them aside in anger and despair. She collapses into them, rolling to her side, her face pressed into the grime and filth.

“I’m sorry…”

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