Childhood is something to cherish

I do have memories of my childhood. I can't remember what order most of the go in, but they're there, making me who I am. I can remember playing video games with Drake in our mother's apartment. I can remember having a friend, a young girl, maybe a year younger than me, and she had a puppy and we would play in her back yard with him.
I also remember the day I grew up. My mother told me that dead things don't always stay dead. From that memory forward, everything is chronological. Everything is in strict order.
We were in the kitchen, working on supper. I was washing carrots, she was gutting a fish. I can't remember how to conversation took that turn, but it did. Those words are etched into my mind, "Dead things don't always stay dead." We had a full conversation, albeit a bit one-sided. She told me, in great detail, everything she saw when she closed her eyes. Everything she saw when she looked through windows. Everything she saw when she locked herself in her room, away from Drake and me.
To this day, I can't imagine what possessed her to tell her 10 year old daughter about those terrors. But she did.
Having Belle around has been a blessing. Yes, she's had to grow up. Yes, she's damaged, hurt, scarred. But she's still got that hope, and that persistence that I haven't seen in people as a whole since the outbreak. She is too young to remember life before this mess.
Every night, I come home to a meal. She spends her mornings studying, fixes herself lunch, then gears up and goes scavenging. It's dangerous, and I don't like the thought of her doing it, but she doesn't exactly follow orders. The truth is, she's very good at it. It's like she has radar that can see where no one else is looking and where she can find excellent stuff. If she finds something worth selling, she sells it, if not, she goes to the store and gets whatever we can afford, then goes home and cooks it right in time for us to have dinner together.
I never imagined myself as a mother. For years I've focused on vengeance against the force that took my family away. But Belle was just what I needed, I guess. She has a fresh view on everything. She has that way of thinking that so many young people have, illogical, irrational, but somehow relevant.
She was the one who opened my mind to the possibility that PTA didn't originate in humans. Of course, she thought (still believes, actually) that it was some kind of biological warfare from aliens. I wouldn't go that far, but I must admit that the possibility of a transmitted disease from another species had not been my first guess. Obviously, I had considered it once or twice, but PTA is strange. It's not just a molecule, not just a cell. It's actually a sort of parasite. A very aggressive parasite. What threw me off was that it wasn't compatible with any other animal that has historically spread diseases to humans: rats, monkeys, birds, chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, hundreds of different species we analyzed, all the way down to house pets, when we put the PTA organism near samples of their tissue, it didn't touch them. When you did that with human samples, it gobbled it right up. But only human. I still haven't found the animal it can from, or evolved from, or whatever the case may be, but I can't see any other explanation.
So instead of PTA, Belle calls the disease the Alien Bug.
I can't imagine my life without Belle now. She is my best friend, and she calls me mom. I could do without the nickname, but she does so much for me, and helps me so much, gives me whatever I need, so I'll do whatever makes her feel better about this situation. I dread the day that she realizes that the world won't be easier when she gets older, so I try to hide the worst from her.
She's asked to come to work with me before, but I can't imagine how horrified she'd be when she saw all the bodies and parts and vials of blood. I don't want to make that memory resurface. It's hard enough for her to see me in uniform. I think it reminds her of the people who executed her family.
I wish there was an easier way to detain the undead. The way we do it is so brutal... I wish I could know what Belle was like before her world was shattered.

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