Amy had run cross country in high school. She'd been good – won a few medals, got herself a scholarship. Made their parents proud. Andrea had never understood the desire to run unless you were being chased. But she was a thousand miles from home, and not understanding from a far enough distance suited her just fine.
The weekend Amy'd competed in the regional championship – apparently a big deal if there ever was one – Andrea had gotten a call from her father, asking her to come down.
"She's your sister," he'd said.
"And I have plans," she'd replied. "It's a long-distance race, Dad. Take some pictures for me at the finish line, it'll be just like I'm there."
He'd sighed, but she'd gotten used to hearing his disappointment by then. "Not for her, it won't."
Amy had come in second while Andrea had been lying on a beach in Cabo.
She understands now.
They bring up the rear, with Daryl and Glenn out front and Carol in between. Lori's always leaning a bit, walking on her toes in case Carol goes down again, but it's better than her walking on eggshells.
It's new, this easy silence with Lori. She'd been so condescending before – at the camp, after Amy, during this whole Sophia ordeal. But the mess with the gun, seeing her so squarely, sharply angry, instead of just weary of the world at large, had made a few things a little clearer.
"I'm sorry," she says now, swiping at her forehead with the back of her arm. "'Bout before."
"Don't be," Andrea answers, and means it. "Everybody's on edge, I shouldn't have taken it out on you. It's not your fault, anyway."
That single shot had shaken them all, echoing through the trees for a full minute. It'd made Daryl cling to his crossbow and Glenn start searching hatchet-first, sweeping every weed for Walkers, but Carol had crumpled to the ground, convinced the other half of their fractured group had found Sophia turned. Lori had tried to talk her down, and Glenn had piped in after a minute, but nobody'd gotten through to her but Daryl.
"Still, I shouldn't have been so short with you."
Andrea raises an eyebrow and musters a smile. "I think it's exactly what you should've been."
Lori presses her lips together, swallows, and her nod is more than understanding – it's gratitude.
"I just don't know what to do here." She motions up ahead, her face falling back to that lost place where it usually lives. "It's like she can't even look at me."
Andrea adjusts her bag and stares straight ahead. She isn't sure how to explain it, doesn't know that she'd want to even if she could. But she gets it. She can imagine what it's like to be Carol, with a dead dick of a husband and a missing little girl and Lori Grimes telling her it'll all be fine. Lori, who still has everything she's ever held dear, whose son is safe and sound, whose husband came back from the dead and didn't even try to eat her.
"Just give it time," she says, and keeps walking.
There's really nothing else to be said.
"How much farther?"
Daryl doesn't even bother taking his eyes off the ground ahead. "Not much," he says. "Maybe a hundred yards, as the crow flies."
Andrea snorts, tired and hot and hurting. "Too bad we're not crows."
She'd taken a philosophy course her freshman year, her first elective. They'd spent half the semester on Zeno and Aristotle, all the paradoxes of motion – arrows, dichotomy, Achilles and the Tortoise – and she'd slept through most of it and discarded it all until right this minute. Calculating the time it will take them to make it back to camp, to come together as a group, to find their way to whatever comes next.
A hundred yards is fifty first. Then it's twenty-five, then twelve and change, distance torn in two until there are micromillimeters left, but still ground to cover.
Carol is the arrow personified. Stuck in a moment, frozen in some single defining instant where forward motion is impossible. Lori is every inch Achilles, still at the starting line, but so swift and so sure that she can't fathom losing. And Andrea is the tortoise to her heroic hare, who doesn't have the heart to tell her that they're running the same race. That she'll be right here one day, with all her advantages useless.
That it's a race no one can win. There is no finish line, and all of them are only in it 'til they run out of road.
There's a cobweb across the path, and she walks right into it. "Ugh," she mutters. "As the crow flies, my ass."
The Walker comes up on her right, shuffling silent and unseen until it's right on top of her, grabbing at her shoulders. She twists and turns and fumbles for her knife, stabs blindly at anything she can reach and tries to run. But she's a Tortoise without a head start – she takes a wrong step, her ankle gives out, and she goes down hard.
Some part of her brain registers the screaming, the desperate sounds being ripped from her throat, but she's outside of herself, watching it close in on her. Her heart's moving faster than her head, pounding so hard the pulse of it fills her ears, and all she can think is that this is it, this is where it ends.
And, even though she's still not sure that she really wants to live, she knows she doesn't want to die like this.
The horse's hooves are a moving mirage, getting closer in time with her heartbeat. Then the Walker is flying and she's free, trying to take a breath that isn't shallow and desperate.
The rider looks around frantically. "Lori?" she calls. "Lori Grimes?"
Lori steps forward, identifying herself, and the girl sets aside her Walker-whacking bat and tightens her hold on the reins.
"Rick sent me, you gotta come now."
Even across the clearing, the confusion on Lori's face is clear. "What?"
"There's been an accident," the girl says. "Carl's been shot."
Andrea climbs to her feet, wrapping her arms around herself, and watches Lori's face go from confused to caught, from caught to destroyed. Counting down the distance from a hundred. Achilles, finding his heel.
And just like that, she's halfway there.