Dawning at Dusk

Henry is a complete jumble that night.

He isn't hungry, nothing has flavor, and he can't sit still long enough to eat anyway. He tries to watch television, but it bores him, and his mind wanders. He paces, he sits, then jumps up again. Even sleep will not come to him.

There is too much to think and feel. Henry is so happy and so heartbroken, that every laugh becomes a sob, and every frown springs back into a smile. He stares at himself in the mirror - examining his dark face, and imagining her light face beside him. How can color have so much power over a man's life?

Why did I leave? He wonders, What on earth possessed me to run from her? His mind torments him endlessly, rerunning that moment, over and over again. Can I fix this? If I run back to her, what will she do? If I explained that I only ran for her sake, then, will she forgive me? Would it even matter?

He remembers the hurt that shimmered in her eyes as he handed her the milk. He remembers the way that she slipped silently behind the door, not even meeting his eyes.

Could she ever forgive me for running? She knows why I left, he thinks, I left because I'm afraid of being with a white woman. I'm afraid of what people will say. I'm afraid of what they will do. And Henry knows that this is not merely his fear rationalizing. People will scorn them, they will be pushed out of restaurants, they will be spit on, they will lose their friends. It would not surprise Henry if Diane's Mother would disown Diane. It would not surprise him if Henry's own family disowned him.

"Would it be worth it?" He muses aloud. "Why would I put either of us through that?" He asks his reflection.

I would do it if I loved her, he thinks.

And suddenly, Henry's mind goes rushing back to Diane. Her slender waist, her tender smile, the way the breeze caught her hair when they sat on the porch. The way his heart contorted when he saw the smashed car. The way electricity ran up his fingertips when their hands brushed. That star-crossed kiss, that wasn't supposed to mean anything, and yet meant everything to Henry.

In that violet and speckled dusk, a beautiful, wonderful realization dawns on him.

Henry loves Diane.

And maybe, maybe, Diane loves Henry too.

There is only one way to find out.

The End

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