Sam had his arms wrapped tightly around me. I'd quit crying a while ago, but I felt like his embrace was the only thing holding me together. I needed the calm now, so we sat in silence. Outside my window, Manhattan was growing darker, and the skyline was lit up with the whole of New York waking up.
"Sam?" I stared out the window. My neighbor across the street was listening to an oldie on the radio, and the melody drifted through the open windows and lulled me into a nostalgic mood.
"Yes?" His nose was buried in my hair, and I felt the rise and fall of his chest as he inhaled deeply and exhaled.
"I forgot." His shoulders moved as he chuckled softly.
"That's okay. You don't have to remember anything just now. Sometimes it feels good to forget."
"It does, you know?" I snuggled closer to him, and his arms held me tighter. He sighed, and I thought it sounded like he was struggling with some internal conflict.
"What's wrong?" I was concerned.
"Nothing; I shouldn't bring it up right now. It would only upset you."
"You already brought it up. Speak your truth, good sir," I told him.
"I met your dad in the hallway before he left, when I was coming back over. He looked like he'd had his heart ripped out of his chest, and the wound was infected. It was a tragic sight. I just wanted to know what you said to him..." Sam sounded timid, like he didn't want to say anything.
I pushed him away and went to my window, saying "You were right; you shouldn't have brought it up." I climbed onto the fire escape. He followed me.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you." He paused, waiting for my response. When I didn't fulfill his expectation, he sighed.
"He told me he was sorry, that he screwed up and that he couldn't bear it if I hated him too. He told me I was all he had left, and then he cried." I blinked back the onslaught of fresh tears. "And I told him I had homework to do, and left him standing in the living room." I inhaled completely and thought about holding my breath until I fainted, wondering if I would wake up. Finally, I exhaled. I was surprised by the single sob that escaped my lips unexpectedly.
"I know you probably think I'm a terrible person but--"
"I don't think you're terrible."
"Fine. I feel like a terrible person. But I didn't know what else to say. I didn't want to talk to him anymore, but I couldn't outright tell him to leave."
"Nicole, I would have done the same thing. There are always better alternatives, but they don't come to us until after the moment has passed. You're no worse a person than I."
"I'm done talking about this." With that, the conversation ended.
Below me in the alley, a tom cat thrashed about inside the dumpster, hissing at something. I jumped, cursing the creature.
He hesitated. "Never mind."
I looked at him, trying to figure out what emotion was expressed on his face. I couldn't tell in the dim light.
"What is it?" He shook his head at me and leaned in to kiss my forehead. "What?" I demanded.
"It's not important. I'll tell you later."
"Why can't you tell me now?" He smiled at me and shook his head again.
"Because this moment is perfect as it is, and I don't want to ruin it." It was too dark to read his blue eyes, but they sparkled slightly in the light that fell out of my window.
"Okay." I stood on my tip toes to reach his lips with mine. I decided that he was right.