Very short. This story's been bugging me to write it for days, and when I woke up this morning I knew I wouldn't be able to write anything else until it was done.



They don't understand. None of them do.

They couldn't understand it when Wendy had come down from the mountain alone, half-frozen and numb, stumbling under the weight of her gear, too dehydrated to cry. As soon as she had been able to eat without throwing up the contents of her stomach, she'd bolted down two slices of pizza and a candy bar, washed it all down with a Coke. Things that were normal. She wanted to be normal again.

But that's something she can never be.

None of them understand. How could they? They hadn't been there, on the side of the mountain at night. They hadn't felt their tears freeze on their cheeks with no one there to see them, the rest of the team dead of exposure and starvation. They hadn't felt the wind, slicing across every sliver of exposed skin like a razor. They couldn't know the pain, the cold and the dark, the loneliness, the hunger. They don't know.

That doesn't make it any less painful to Wendy, when she can feel the stares resting heavily on her back wherever she goes. The newspapers had not all been kind. No one blames you, they say. But that doesn't make it stop. That doesn't alleviate the ache, it doesn't stop the stares. And the names they call her...!

But the worst of it, the only thing that still makes her cry, late at night, in her safe, warm bed, is the knowledge that when they speak to her, all she can wonder is what they taste like.