Chapter 23

The golden evening sunlight pouring its remains through the curtained windows was the only light in the room. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open as you smoothed slow, comforting circles on my back. My head still felt heavy and my stomach still weak from last night, but I hadn't been so grateful for my health in a very long time; real pain does that to you, I have found.

"What are you thinking?" I asked softly, reluctant to break the sweet silence around us. Your lips pulled into a smile as you stretched an arm around my waist. "I was just thinking how much has changed in such a short time," you answered just as quietly. You shifted uncomfortably before you admitted "If you hadn't called me back that first night we spoke since you left… I don't think I would have tried to contact you again." I nodded slowly, feeling the harsh, dull ache of a near-miss that would have cost me so much. Where would I be today if I hadn't called you back when I did? I can't bare to think about that now.

"Sometimes I almost wish I hadn't called you back that day," I began. The moment the words left my mouth, I wish they hadn't. Your chest sank as you expelled a breath, as if the air was somehow suddenly sucked out of your lungs. Your eyes shined with a teary glaze in the glow of the setting sun. You pulled out of my hold and slid off the couch to your feet. "Let me save you any more regret," you replied harshly, your voice quavering as you headed toward the door.

I stuttered and stammered as I pleaded with you not to go, to hear me out and let me explain before you got the wrong impression. The look of hurt in your eyes, as if the very light in them had been snuffed out all of a sudden, stung me nearly as much as your words did.

"Why should you have a choice of whether or not I leave, Elliot? When you left, I didn't have a choice."

To be continued