“Better?” he asks.
I lay my head on his shoulder. “Much.”
The stars wink at us as if to say, It will be okay.
It was Brady’s idea. I was pacing and cursing, wound tight from the stress. The more I cursed, the more I paced. The more I paced, the more I cursed. He didn’t even suggest. He just took me by the hand and led me outside then sat me down on the ground.
That’s what I love about him. He knows what I need without me saying it, sometimes before I even know what I need.
“It’s not always going to be like this,” he reminds me.
“I know. They just drive me to the brink of insanity.” He keeps me from going over the edge. Every time.
“Seventeen days.” Still some time.
He squeezes my shoulder. “I’m going to miss you, Charis.”
I press into him. “You’re the only person I’m going to miss from this godforsaken place, Brady.”
“You don’t mean that. What about your friends?”
“What friends? The ones who play at being my friend but talk about me behind my back the first chance they get?”
Silence weaves its way between us. He knows I’m right. Everyone else in this town pretends. Brady is the only one who is real. The only one I can count on.
“I’m still going to miss you,” he says softly. The longing in those six words is palpable.
“You’ll visit.” It’s not a question. It never was a question when I first laid out my plan to him.
“Every weekend.” He rests his head on mine.
The stars blink their approval and I settle into him. Stillness covers us like a well-worn quilt.
I’m trading this comfort for liberation. For a life not dominated by the expectations of others. For sanity in a world of my own making. The trade-off means being my own anchor from now on.
Brady has a life here he needs to live. I’m sure his girlfriend will be happier without me around for him to worry about. She doesn’t understand our friendship. No one does. She merely tolerates it…me.
The stars dim.
©Debi Smith, 2014