She doesn't know why she's doing it, but she is.
She knows that it's reckless and stupid and she'll probably end up dead, but she's doing it anyway.
She's running, not towards the group, but away from it. They're supposed to be fortifying the cabins, scouting for food and supplies, but all she wants is a moment to herself; a moment to visit the gravesite of a woman she never really got to know, but liked all the same. She stands at the foot of the freshly uncovered dirt, and she remembers the sound of the woman's scream. She knows what a scream like that means. In the post-apocalyptic world, it can only mean one thing and it's something she's grown very close to; something she never wanted to know this intimately and yet she's soaked in it, she's drowning in it and she's just trying to keep her head above water. It's death.
She should be making her way back to the cabins, back to the group so that they can finish their day and relax as much as they can with a cup of warm cocoa, but she can't stop thinking about the grave and everything it means. She knows this is the norm now in the world they're living in, but she feels like she's being suffocated and she can't take it. Standing on the edge of the group, not quite part of it but not completely removed, she takes one step back. Then another. Until her body is acting on its own and she's full on running in the opposite direction.
She's not far from the group when her legs finally give out and she collapses onto the forest floor, dirt pushing roughly into the palms of her hands as she fists the soil and leaves, the cut on her knee splitting open again until she's bleeding all over her jeans. She can hear them talking, moving, and she focuses on it as she heaves for breath. She knows what this is and she tries to stop it.
One, two, three. She counts in her head as she squeezes her eyes shut against the tightening in her chest. She never wanted this. She never wanted this to happen. She just wanted a place to be for a little while, a place to live and survive. No more running. By the way she's clutching at the dirt with white knuckles in an attempt to stave off an asthma attack or a panic attack, she isn't even sure at this point, it's painfully obvious that she can't run anymore. Physically or emotionally.
Nothing gold can stay.
Four, five, six. They're surrounded by death, but so is the rest of the world. Maybe they can still carve out a place for themselves. Maybe they can still find a way to make this work. They have a long way to go, but just like the poem, things may seem bleak, but there's always a silver (or gold) lining. Maybe they just have to take what the can and grab it with both hands and hold on tight; appreciate how precious every moment is because you never know when the next bad thing will come. They can still survive and live at the same time.
Seven, eight, nine. And her fists slowly open and she can feel the air rush into her lungs. She leans back against a tree trunk to catch her breath, but the hiss and groan of a nearby walker has her pushing herself up almost immediately. She doesn't spot it, not at first. She can only hear it, so she takes a step closer to investigate. And that's when she sess it. Lani, eyes glazed over and skin pale even under the afternoon sun, caught between two trees, one arm desparately reaching out for her next meal. There's a horrible-looking bitemark on the girl's arm.
Nothing gold can stay.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."