It took me a second to find the words to say. What was I suppose to say? It'd been ten years since I last saw him. Hell, I didn't even know how much of me he remembered. He looked the same. Those almond eyes looked at me inquisitively as if he could, if he wanted to, stare right into me but he never did because that was how Sam was, a gentleman, never invasive even when he could be so easily.
"Sam…hi," I decided to start with as I tucked a strand of my red hair behind my ear.
Sam smiled and my heart melted, "Tessa. I suppose it's been a while since we last saw each other. They weren't supposed to send me anyone else. How's Al? Is he safe? Is he happy?"
"He's doing alright. He's worried about you though. What do you mean they weren't supposed to send anyone else?"
Sam shook his head at the ground and let out a long sigh. He lifted his head to the sky and squinted at the clouds as if looking for the words to say written in plain sight.
"Al, couldn't find me because I didn't want him too. It's time for him to live his own life. And forget about me," he sounded so sad.
This was the man I was in love with. How couldn't I be? Even now, in his situation, leaping from lifetime to lifetime, he was the most selfless person I'd ever met. I don't know if I could have done the same in his situation. Had he really let Al go? I wanted to reach out and touch him to hold him in my arms and tell him everything was alright. Part of me was angry to, for all his selflessness he'd forgotten about his responsibilities in his own life and somehow that didn't seem fair either. As much as I despised Dona, she needed her husband and her mother needed a son.
"Do you want to know why you're here?"
Sam shook his head, "I already know why I'm here. I don't need Ziggy anymore."
I laughed, "well, don't let her hear you say that."
There was a moment where it grew very quiet between us. It reminded me of the day I got married. He had visited me right before I was to walk down the altar. He snuck in and told me how beautiful I looked. I wanted him to grab me by the hand and ask me to run away with him but he didn't. I gave him his last chance, because if he'd just said the word then, I would have gone. Leaving poor Anthony at the altar. I had told Sam that I wasn't sure if I was making the right decision.
"You are. Come on, Tessa, you love Anthony. The two of you always look so happy together," he had said.
"I know, but am I ready to be a bride, Sammy?"
He smiled at me in that patronizing way, "go. I really think you should."
"B-but what if," I'd started to say but I never finished my sentence.
"Tessa, don't make excuses for yourself. You've already made the decision. It's only cold feet. I know you won't regret it."
His eyes were full of tears, I'd always assumed they were tears of pride because I was like a sister to him. After he said it, he leaved in slowly and kissed me on the cheek. His lips hovered there for a beat too long and then he pulled away. We stood there in silence until I was called to the aisle. He squeezed my upper arm and wished me luck. When I'd made it to the altar and the pastor told our guests to sit, I heard the door close. I turned to where Sam had been sitting but he was gone.
Now, Sam stood before me again and I was tongue tied all over again. It had never been the right time for me to tell him how I felt. Would there ever be a right time to tell him? He smiled awkwardly. I rocked back on my heels. We started to say something, laughed and offered for the other to go first.
"I think I owe you an apology," Sam said.
I smiled, "what for?"
Sam hesitated before he spoke, "oh, Tessa," he whispered mournfully.
"I don't understand."
He became really quiet and then sat down on the grass. I knelt beside him.
"I've been a terrible friend to you. And now they've called you here to help me? Well, I'm afraid you can't. I'm stuck here. I can't go home," he rubbed his face in his hands and then looked me straight in the eyes and said, "even if I could, I don't think I would."
I understood now why Sam had tried to keep Al from finding him. He didn't want to come home and that was his choice but he couldn't force Al into all of this.
"That doesn't mean we can't help you. Even if you've decided to continue to do this."
"I can't ask you to do this," he said pulling his finger through a strand of my hair.
"Well, it's our choice. If we want to help you, you have to let us make our own decision. We're grown-"
I began to stare at my hair in Sam's hand. He looked at me questioningly. I stuck out a hand and grabbed Sam on the shoulder and he did the same to me. We were both too stunned to say anything or even move. I got up and tried to feel around for the imaging chamber door. I started to yell for Gushie or Al but I got no response except from the sheep.
"Tessa…I think…I think you leaped…"