Janet and Brandy seemed closer than ever in conversation most of the day. Jimmy and Mason had gone out to see if they could find any wood fuel. The forest remained silent, with no birds.
"After the drowning, Jimmy has been a wreck, " share Janet. "I am really concerned about his mental health. I mean, I know we are all under stress, but he seems, well, fragile."
"Losing Carrie is traumatic for him, Janet and for us all." Brandy continued washing dishes after lunch.
"Yes, I know, but it is more than that, like he has survivor guilt or something. We could have all drowned. And, I keep seeing my dead parents, not even able to bury them. I never thought their lives would end that way." Janet began to cry. Brandy remained silent. Janet had lost all her loved ones in a matter of weeks. And, yet, she seemed stronger than Jimmy.
Janet gently touched Brandy's arm, "Brandy, I need to just go pray and be silent. Could I use the back room?" Brandy nodded and Janet disappeared behind the old oak door.
Brandy thought of her late night conversation with Mason about trying to get to her people's reservation on the Canadian border. Or, to be more exact, the reservation was half in Canada and half in the United States. All the residents, including herself, had been given dual citizenship, the inheritance of an old treaty. Now, suddenly, that did not matter, as this new Pan-American Empire changed all the rules for citizenship.
Brandy did not want to go back "home". Her parents were both dead and even though she had cousins and several aunts and uncles in the tribe, she felt estranged. She had broken away from the older ways of the family years ago, and now, she was married to a Afro-American. She was not sure how things would go.
Mason was concerned for her safety. He was concerned for the safety and any children which may come. He thought that he could take her up to the reservation and let her stay there, but Brandy did not want to be separated from Mason. She wanted him to stay there as well. The conversation ended peacefully but without a decision on either side.
Mason brought up the subject with Jimmy and Janet as well as Brandy at dinner.
"Jimmy, when you feel well enough, would you consider a cross-country hike of about two weeks? I want to get Brandy, and Janet, if she wants to go, to the reservation of the Akwesansnes.
It would be very hard hiking all that way, but I think we need to do it. We are too close to danger and with Adam not coming, it seems, it is time to move on. He was going to tell me what to do next, but he is not here."
Janet said, "I do not mind leaving. We are too close to danger, in my opinion. But, is the reservation safe? I am not happy about being around the revival of the cult religion, you know."
Brandy stepped in, "No, me neither, but one can avoid the ceremonies. That is acceptable."
Jimmy was very quiet. He then entered the conversation with a surprise statement. "I cannot leave this area. In fact, I need to go back and try to find Carrie or at least, her body. I cannot rest, really, I have to do this."
All three stared at him. Brandy answered first, "Christ says to let the dead bury the dead."
Jimmy looked upset, "I don't know she is dead. I need to know."
Mason interrupted. "You may never find the body. That river is deep and wide and runs fast into the sea."
Jimmy stood up, "I need to try. I need to go and try."
Janet was about to say something, but Mason put his hand up as if to say, no, don't say anything.
All were silent for a moment. Mason said, "Jimmy, I agree with you. You need to go and see what you can find. But, I do not think you will find Carrie. I am sorry but you need to face that."
Jimmy sat down again. "Do you mind if I go?"
Mason spoke for the others as well as for himself. "No, I think you need to find peace and searching for Carrie may bring you peace,"
No one else spoke and as it was late, the group disperses, each one getting ready for bed. Mason walk over to where Jimmy was laying out a sleeping bag. "When do you want to go? How do you feel?"
"I want to go tomorrow, Mason. I'm fit enough."
Mason searched Jimmy's face. He only saw pain. "OK, I shall walk you to the edge of the town. How is that?"
Jimmy nodded. The two men shook hands. They knew after this journey, they most likely would never see each other again.
to be continued....