It was 6:30 when they finally left, the sun had not yet begun to color the morning sky. No greens glowed on the horizon and no stirring behind any windows had yet to show signs of life. She drove passed the lake, now nothing but a void in the dark. A memory only of washing waters in a clean blue expanse. They were heading home after the party, her oldest friend was leaving to study abroad, the loss had just begun to grip her. It tasted of some bitter-sweetness that she should leave now, she wondered if they would see each other again. She drove along the shores of the lake, here in the night she felt the pull of its dark weight next her. A gravity, pulling at her, tugging the wheel. It worked slowly through her, this great weight, until it passed through her chest and grew as a welling in her throat. She began to sob silently as scenes from that night and a million other nights played over the surface of the deep. The loneliness caught her by surprise the way it does when the loss of someone hits you finally, hits you in your chest. Her shoulders began shaking heavily, her crying without sound. She would miss her friend, a sister when she had none and that place a second home. A place of deep treasure that had been for years stored up in the small nooks of the cupboards and cracks between books. Nearly overwhelmed, she stopped the car. Stepping out into the cold, she stared into the immense dark. She believed in waves that the water extended far out before her just as she believed, through some blind faith, that she would see her friend again.
She drank in the cold as it came rushing up the shore until the sound of breathing static in her head subsided and she could hear the water lapping just feet in front of her. He walked up beside her. There, standing shoulder to shoulder she remembered he had been with her, himself almost a stranger in a room of strangers. She reached with her finger tips for his hand. He gripped back tightly as if to pull her back from the edge of the dark and the edges of her thoughts She opened her mouth to speak.
“I’ll stay with you,” he said, before she could form words.
She looked back at him, just able to make out his eyes in the birthing dawn, “Thank you.”
The warmth of the car kissed at their cheeks as they pulled away noticing the song that had been playing before.
Come back to me now and sound like a band of wolves.
Come back to fill the holes in this sinking ship.
She left a part of herself there that night so that any time she would drive by it a place inside her would hurt with a deep sadness, a longing she both loved and feared. She did not expect, however, that another feeling would follow, slower and softer than the first. The warmth of his hand around hers, the sound of his voice both quiet and strong, clear over the waves, reassuring her. She would carry this memory with her so that it would warm her on the coldest and loneliest of nights, filling the holes in her chest the hollowed her out. She would come to believe that the great pain, the loss of her closest friend, was birthing something new and deep and warm.
He would remember the weight of her hand so heavy and full and yet so much lighter than his, lighter than his worries, like a small stone warm and smooth in his hand.
The dawn came that morning first slow and green until it finally burst forth almost violent in its red expanse. It would likely storm that day.