Garraty knew he had made a mistake. He knew he never should have signed up for the Long Walk.
Since the walk, Garraty had aged incredibly. As he looked in the mirror, he could only see the face of an old man staring back at him- gaunt, sunken eyes, sallow skin, thin hair. He didn’t even remember what he was like before the walk, but he saw the deep sadness in his mother’s eyes everyday and knew he was not the same. He could never be the same again.
He felt like an old man.
Who else but an old man lived while all his friends died and wanted to grab the nearest person and tell to them all their laughter, their tears, their triumphs, their tragedies?
Because he sure couldn’t say it to Baker, lying in a lead-lined coffin in Louisiana. Or to Olson, cleaned up and shipped back to his family. Or to Barkovitch. Not that he had ever really talked to Barkovitch, but maybe he should have. Or Stebbins, always speaking in riddles. Or McVries.
Oh, god. Why had he done it?
He wondered that each night, staring up at the ceiling, feeling like he had been sealed into a coffin. He wished he was. Buried beneath the earth, with Baker and Olson and Stebbins. And Parker and Abraham and Barkovitch.
He didn’t even like to think of him, but he couldn’t get him out of his mind. Every time he shut his eyes, he saw a scar slashed into pale skin and saw the barrel of a gun shoved against a dark head of hair.
Oh Pete, who had saved him so many times but who Garraty hadn’t been able to save in return. Who smiled at Garraty before his head was blown away.
That’s why he didn’t sleep. He was too afraid to shut his eyes. He couldn’t help but hear his own voice, his own desperation, begging them to shoot him instead. To let Pete go.
Garraty had no one to talk to. No one to understand. No one who had lived their life on that road and who had heard the gunshots and seen their friends shot down like rabid dogs.
Salty tears slipped down his cheeks, and he let out a shaky, choked breath, his grief echoing off the walls of his coffin. He rested a hand over his eyes, the tears falling more quickly now.
Sure, he had won. What did that matter in the end anyways?
So what if he had won the Prize?
It wasn’t as if the Major could give him what he wanted anyways.