I sat on the porch steps, head in my hands. It felt right to be here, at Lacy’s house. I had sat here every day just wishing she would be come home from the hospital. She kept telling me she’d be back soon, but each minute was so long I almost ran there myself just to have her with me. But I knew I couldn’t do that, she was trying to walk again, and her mother said that ‘she didn’t want me to see her this way.’ I told her I wouldn’t laugh; I would never laugh at someone I love.
After a long time I began to think of earlier this summer, when we had kissed and fireworks filled the sky with brilliant colors while small embers flashed for a moment before fading into the smoke above. But that didn’t compare to how I felt then, how the love lit inside me that night. I found myself smiling as I stood from the steps, walking along the path that entered into a long garden filled with flowers of every size.
As I reached the end of the garden I began to turn back around when I saw Lacy’s truck pull into the driveway. Running across the yard I jumped over the bushes into the mulch. I didn’t care that my feet got cut up, I deserved it anyway. The car door opened and I saw her step out in crutches and my face fell. She looked so weak, like she could break just by standing there. I wasn’t sure if I could hug her, if she even wanted me to. My knees buckled, why was I so nervous?
“Are-are you okay?” I didn’t sound like myself, I sounded like an idiot.
“Yeah.” She mumbled, shifting her crutches so she could come over to me. “I’m fine.”
“That’s good…” I trailed off; folding my arms together I took a step back. I didn’t want to hurt her.
“Is something wrong?” She snapped, her hair falling in her eyes. I wanted to fix it.
“No, nothing.” I lied.
“Because I’d really like to know what you were thinking when that man tried to kill me!” She was yelling now, her eyes blazing as she waited for my response.
I held back tears at the mention of ‘kill’. It was hard to talk without my voice shaking. “I tried to get there fast Lacy I promise! You had already escaped by the time I got there! Don’t you remember?”
“I try not to.”
“Any of it?” I asked, hoping she would think of earlier, when we were at the park bench.
She looked at me then, her face softening before she turned away. I heard small gasps of breath as teardrops stained the cement. I couldn’t stand it anymore, I walked up to her and wrapped my arms around her, she only cried harder as she faced me, enclosing her arms around my waist.
“Were you afraid?” I asked, knowing the answer, I just hoped that I was wrong.
“Yes. But not for the right reason.” She told me, laying her head on my chest. I walked with her back to the garden where we sat and remained there for a moment before asking.
“What did you mean? When you said you weren’t afraid for the right reason?”
She thought for a moment; her head looked up to the sky, her eyes reflecting the sunset that was forming in the horizon.
“Nick, people aren’t afraid of heights, they are afraid of falling. They aren’t afraid of swimming, they’re afraid of drowning, and people aren’t afraid of dying they are afraid of where they will go after it’s over.” She said, looking at the ground now, picking at the petals of a flower I had given her.
“So you were afraid of where you were going to go? When you thought you were going to-” I stopped, I didn’t want to finish the sentence.
“Not exactly” she paused, “I was afraid for you.”
“Me? Why on earth were you afraid for me? You were the one who was being attacked!” I exclaimed, my voice had risen from shock.
“Because I thought you were going to stop him!” she screamed, “I thought you were going to fight for me!”
“I wanted too!”
“Then why didn’t you!?” her jaw clenching as she held back more hateful words that were clearly aching to be said.
“I couldn’t get there in time!” I dug my fingers into the grass, my pulse rose as I spoke. “You honestly think I would choose to just let you die?”
“Would you?” she countered, her face relaxing now.
“No never.” I answered quickly, with no hesitation. She didn’t seem convinced. I sighed, closing my eyes I felt her head drop on my shoulder. We sat in silence there, as the stars began to stretch across the sky.
“It’d kill me.” I whispered
“What?” she murmured, her heart beating softly against me.
“If you weren’t here.” I said, feeling completely scared for that one moment. I felt my body go rigid with the thought. I was relaxed again when her arm slid behind my back.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
And for the first time since I’d seen Lacy in a week, I smiled.
Sunlight streamed through my bedroom window, I had watched that window since 3am. I could not sleep; I was too busy worrying that the man would come back, that he would try to take her again. If that ever happened I would fight this time. I wouldn’t care if I got hurt, hell, I wouldn’t care if I died.
Is this what love feels like?
I had already claimed it so it could be. The fact that I value my life as less important than someone else’s was not something I was afraid of. I welcomed it, because now I had something that I could commit to, and if I was going to commit to anything, it should be Lacy. It is Lacy.
My heart skipped as I thought through the night, I imagined my bare feet hitting against the pavement and the wind whipping my face. I had no idea where I was going, or what I was doing. I was lost and nothing was going to help me get back up from this beautiful thing I was in. I was definitely falling and I was going to keep falling until I was too deep to even dream of pulling away. That’s what I felt like every time I saw her.
That’s what love feels like.