Make You Feel My Love

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love
Make You Feel My Love - Bob Dylan

August 1969

Sam Walker wondered if he'd heard correctly when his father, Henry, said Meg was back from California. Part of him always imagined her returning, but after a point it had merely become wishful thinking. The days following her departure turned into weeks, and weeks into months, until eventually three years passed. Life had gone on as usual for Sam, but her missing presence still loomed over him like a hovering apparition.

It was the same way for the Pryors. Sometimes, but not often, they'd talk about Meg. It was always with a wistful look, as if her absence was too unbearable to think about. Sam could sympathize with them there. He wanted to believe that she was okay, that she was somewhere safe. But with no word of her whereabouts after a whole three years, part of him began to think the worse. What if she had gone from runaway to missing person? What if. . . she wasn't safe? New questions brought about by her reappearance now clouded these ones. Why hadn't she written or called anyone? At least she could have said something to Roxanne. Sam pestered Roxanne for the first year after she got a letter from Meg. But after that first letter there were no more, and then Roxanne seemed just as wistful as everyone else about Meg.

Now she was back. Why she was back wasn't really a concern to him. All he knew was he wanted to see her. He was a little nervous because he knew inevitably he would. Whether it was that night or the next day was the question. Sam had no idea what he would say. The last time she saw him it was under somewhat awkward circumstances, right after they tried for something more than a friendship. That attempt didn't end well. And though part of him still hoped for something more, it was only a small part. The other part was capable of accepting that they were only going to be friends, even if he did care for her as more than a friend. It was crazy how after all these years he still felt this way. Girls had come and gone - college girls, even - but none of them could hold a candle to Meg. She was Meg. She was his Meg. He didn't know if he could still say that about her then, but he hoped he could.

"I guess you heard Meg's back," his little sister, Angela, told him later that day. It was raining outside and Sam was sitting watching – but not really watching - an in-color episode of "I Dream of Jeannie". Jeannie was doing her signature eye blink when Sam replied that he was aware that Meg had returned. "Dad told you?" Sam asked, sitting up from his sideways position on the couch. Angela came to sit by him, "I just overheard," she responded. Her round, curious eyes attempted to read his reaction. "I don't know why he didn't tell me," Sam muttered, thinking out loud. He was going to find out eventually. There was no use in stalling. Maybe Henry wanted to give him some warning before he told him the news. Everyone use to make a big deal about he and Meg being friends because she was white and he was black. Maybe nothing had changed in that respect.

He wanted to drop by the Pryors. He wanted to call, but there was no guarantee she'd be there, no guarantee he'd see her. There was also a small part of him that was scared. Three years was usually all it took to change a person. He wasn't sure if he was ready to handle the new Meg yet.

So, Sam went on with his day. It was summer and in between semesters at Penn. Like the past two summers, he was helping his father in the afternoons at their store, Walker Appliance. It had finally reopened in North Philadelphia, after being trashed during the race riots in '64. So much in the neighborhood had changed since then. They were rebuilding. Businesses were up and running again and even though King was dead, the message of his dream drifted in the sultry summer air like a whispered prayer.

Henry left Sam to close the shop that Saturday evening and Sam was turning things off lights, rearranging TVs. It was his preoccupation with fixing one that was suddenly producing a fuzzy picture that caused him not to hear the tapping on the window at the front of the store. When the tap grew louder and harder he jumped up, instantly suspicious that someone was going to break into the faintly-lit store. Needless to say, when he turned around and saw Meg standing there in the window, he didn't believe that she was actually real. It took a couple more hard wraps before he realized she wasn't a figment of his imagination.

Instinctively he jogged to the door, unlocked it, and let her in. Once she entered, they both stood there. Both, wordless and expressionless. Sam took this time to examine her. She still looked the same - but her face was harder, rougher. Somehow she still seemed like the same Meg. Her blond hair, bone-straight and wet from the rain, was shoulder-length. Loose bangs stopped just above her crystal blue eyes. Everything else - her heart-shaped face, slender nose and bow lips - was still the same. She was still beautiful despite her somber frown.

After another beat of silence, "Sam," was all she said. Then she looked away and let out a sigh, wiping her wet palms against the long blue and white dress she was wearing. The rain outside fell harder as her eyes slowly met his again. They were watering. Her bottom lip trembled. Before she could cry, he pulled her against his chest, and without hesitation she wrapped her arms tightly around him. Sam could feel the tears wetting the white cotton shirt he had on and could hear her muffled sobs. As he held her, all he really wanted to know was what had happened. Still, he knew that it didn't matter then. She needed to be comforted. She probably needed a friend. Somehow he found himself stroking her hair and her back without realizing he was touching the bare skin at the nape of her neck. After a moment the tearful moans stopped and Meg pulled away from him a little. She stared at him a brief second, then reached up and curled her hand around his neck, bringing her face closer to his. Before he could think about what was happening, Meg was kissing him and he was kissing her. Her sweet-and-sour-tasting lips were warm and hard against his, but so delicate. The same way he pictured Meg. In that moment, he could have kissed her forever. It was when he felt her tongue attempting to slip into his mouth, that he came to his senses. What were they doing? Why, after three years, was Meg just kissing him impulsively? What about her boyfriend? Sam pulled away and took two sizable steps back.

"Meg, uh - " he stammered, "You should probably go." Even though he hadn't minded the kiss, it didn't seem or feel right, especially under the current circumstances. He couldn't even look her in the eye.

He heard Meg let out a whimper. "Maybe I should," she murmured. Sam looked up to see her holding her dress from sweeping the ground as she pushed out the door. She hung her head sullenly as she slowly paced away.

He couldn't let her walk away that way. He just couldn't. How could he possibly let her leave alone this time of night anyway?