One week later…
“Hey Josh, you are coming over to my place for a sleepover,” Caleb ordered. It was Friday just after the last class of the day. I had been heading for my car so that I could get home and start in on some work. I had already completed almost half of the year’s worth of work.
I sighed and was about to ask if maybe we could do it some other time, but Caleb pulled me by the arm and hauled me to the Ferrari. He stuck me in the passenger seat and then got in the drivers’ seat. “Keys,” He demanded, holding out his hand to me.
I obediently reached into my pocket and handed him the keys then sat resignedly back in my seat. Maybe if I could just immerse myself in other stuff…so long as I didn’t dwell on…yeah I would just immerse myself my time with Caleb for a while.
I spent the day with Caleb and we messed around with each other and actually had a lot of fun. That night after they ate dinner, (I just messed around with my food and talked to them until everyone else was done because eating gave me time to think and whenever I was given time to think my thoughts inevitably strayed to places they shouldn’t) we played around on Caleb’s X-box before going to bed.
I was walking along the sidewalk in a comparatively poorer part of the city. Sarah had her arm linked with mine and was even leaning in to me as we walked in companionable silence. Up ahead of us was a park and behind us curling vines of blooming Jasmine curled up a wall from some forgotten planter that had become overgrown.
Sarah stopped and looked up imploringly at me with her beautiful blue eyes. I smiled and wrapped her up in my embrace enjoying the feeling of her soft body pressed up so close to mine. The feeling of her breath as it came slowly in and out on my shoulder where she had pressed her head against it. My chest felt fit to burst with barely contained emotion.
A dark shadow loomed up before us, blocking out the direct sunlight. Sarah was ripped, screaming, away from my embrace by some unseen presence. “SARAH!” I screamed throwing my arms up trying to grab a hold of her and failing miserably. I was left alone, watching miserably as Sarah was pulled farther and farther from me. “Sarah…” I moaned pitifully again before sinking, utterly defeated, to the sidewalk.
“Josh! Josh wake up!” I sat up ram-rod straight, immediately awake before realizing that it had all been a dream. And it had started off so well too…if only I could have stayed there with Sarah in my arms. I took a deep shaky breath then sunk back into bed, tears beginning to streak my face.
“Are you alright?” Caleb asked, concern writ across his face.
I took a deep breath to steady my voice. “Yes, I’m fine,” I replied.
Caleb seemed unsure but eventually let me off and went back to bed. I didn’t get anymore sleep that night. I was too afraid I would start dreaming about the same thing. I certainly didn’t mind the first part of the dream, but the second part was just horrible so I ended up lying awake for the last few hours of the night.
I stayed with Caleb until the afternoon of the next day. Then I went home and got right back to work. It was really the only reliable way to keep my mind from wandering. The one thing I noticed before I left was a strange…almost plotting…expression on Caleb’s face.
Two months later
“Hey Josh,” Caleb greeted me at the school gate.
“Hi,” I replied haggardly. I was so tired. I hadn’t eaten in months and only drank water when it was absolutely necessary. Eating and drinking were distractions and I couldn’t deal with those. I couldn’t let my mind wander. I had almost finished my school work for the entire year. I just needed a few more days and I would be done with it all five months before I was supposed to.
“Josh, you look horrible…you should talk to your mother about this…”
“Like I say every time you tell me this Caleb, she is too busy to take care of my problems. I’m fine.” I replied before walking to my locker and taking out my books. A wave of dizziness washed over me and I stood still to wait for it to pass…these happened often enough now…but it didn’t. Instead, blackness engulfed me and I fell to the floor.
I woke up in the hospitals with doctors all around me. I had an I.V. in my arm and all kinds of equipment attached to me. “What happened?” I asked the nearest doctor.
“You fainted from lack of nourishment…when was the last time you ate?”
“Umm…two or three months ago…?” I half asked half replied.
The doctor rolled his eyes, “I don’t know what it is with you teens and not eating these days…” He commented as he moved away.
Slowly the room cleared and I was left alone with nothing to do. That was bad. I couldn’t have nothing to do. Just as I thought that there was the sound of two or three people coming in and someone was pushed through the curtain that separated me from the rest of the room. It was Sarah! She looked down at the floor embarrassedly as she shuffled closer to me. “I-I’m so sorry…” she whispered.
I wanted so badly to reach for her and give her a huge hug and just be happy that she was back. But I couldn’t. I was already in pieces and I couldn’t risk letting her in again. If I did, and she left me again, I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle it. You can only shatter a pot so many times before it just can’t be put back together any more…and Sarah, it seemed, tended to drop me often enough. I couldn’t trust her anymore. As much as I wished that I could take up in my arms and say that everything was ok, that I still wanted her to be with me and that I still trusted her…I just couldn’t. Not anymore. I looked away painfully.
“I had no idea…” Sarah trailed off. “I-I never meant to hurt you…”
“I’m sorry too Sarah,” I replied, “and I wish that would fix it all and just make this go away. How can I trust you now? I gave you a second chance and you did the same thing all over again. You know each time you do this and I put my trust in you the risk gets bigger. It almost killed me this time. How can I take that risk again?”
With each word I said Sarah cringed harder and stared at the ground more intensely. I hated seeing what I was doing to her. But I just couldn’t risk letting her in one more time. What if she just walked out again…like she had done every time before. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I don’t know what I would do.
Sarah turned to leave, “I guess—“ she was cut off by Caleb entering the room and looking pointedly at her.
Sarah turned ashamedly back to me. She looked really uncomfortable. “Sarah,” I whispered and grasped her hand in mine, “it’s ok. It’s going to take a long while for me to be able to trust you again. But I forgive you.”
A single tear trickled forlornly down Sarah’s cheek and I wanted so badly to sit up and just hold her in my arms. I wanted to be able to feel the soft beating of her heart in her chest as she was pressed against me. I wanted to show her that she truly was forgiven and that I still trusted her. I wanted. I wanted. I wanted. But I couldn’t. Why must life be so complicated? Why couldn’t all the stuff she had done just be erased. If I could somehow decrease my reaction to what it had been before when she left the first time…I would happily risk jumping into this relationship again. But life isn’t like that. You rarely get a second chance no matter how badly you need one. I just couldn’t risk dying of a depression just to fulfill my, somewhat selfish, desire to comfort Sarah.
Soon Sarah’s face was wet with tears as she stood, trying to hold her emotions in. I was near the breaking point, if this continued I didn’t know what I would do. Caleb had a strange light in his eyes as he stepped forward and put pressure Sarah, moving her towards me and sitting her down in a seat next to my hospital bed. Then he laid her head on my chest and winked at me. He knew something he wasn’t telling. But I trusted him. And I really wanted badly to be able to do this anyways. So if he thought this was ok, then who was I to contradict it? I wrapped my arms around Sarah and held her close. Relishing the feeling of her closeness finally returned. I remembered my dream and suddenly clutched her even more tightly. I wasn’t going to let go of her this time. I didn’t care if she decided she didn’t want to be with me anymore. She was now stuck with me and I was not going to leave her or even let her leave.