Eventually we part from each other, and as we do I feel the strange embarrassment return. I'm aware again of how close Lisa is to me, how I can feel her hip touching mine. The smell of her hair when I hugged her. For some reason it makes me think of Sharon again, and then the embarrassment becomes all tangled up with grief, and guilt and horror, and I feel like I'm being pulled in a dozen different directions at once. I edge away from Lisa, then stand up and make for the door.
"You should rest," I say quickly. "You look tired." I see her begin to protest, and so I say, "I'm not going far. I'm just going to look around, see if I can find some more food and water. I won't even leave the building, and I'll be back before you know it."
Lisa frowns slightly, but then perhaps sensing my moment of awkwardness, nods. "Take this with you," she says, picking up the gun from where it sits on the floor beside her. "Please. I don't like having it here."
I take the gun and tuck it into my belt. Lisa smiles wearily at me and lies down against the wall to sleep as I leave the room.
At first, I don't think about Lisa. Instead, I busy myself searching the building from top to bottom. I take a small shoulder bag from one of the offices and pack it full of medical supplies. Once the bag is full I go in search of food and water. I mange to refill a couple of my empty bottles from various cisterns and tanks, and on the ground floor I discover a small kitchen, in the cupboards of which I find biscuits, dried noodles, coffee grounds and chocolate. In one of the cupboards I find a bundle of thick blankets.
After several hours, and once I'm satisfied with what I've found, I return to the room where I left Lisa. She's fast asleep, huddled up against the wall. I can see that the bandage on her leg has bled through, though not too badly. She looks peaceful in sleep; I'm sure she must have been exhausted. Quietly, I set down my bags and sit opposite her to think.
I could go now, I think. Leave her some food and water. There's plenty of medical supplies lying around. She'd be able to look after herself.
And maybe I'd be better off that way, too.
After all, what does it mean to have a companion? Someone else to look after. Someone else to let down, to abandon, someone else who I cannot possibly save.
I watch the small movements Lisa makes as she sleeps. She really does look terribly young. I get up, shake out one of the blankets I found and drape it over her sleeping form.
She may be someone I cannot save. But she's someone. Another human being. Hope.
I sit back, wrap myself in another blanket and wait for her to wake.