“Hold me tighter.”
She became an orphan on a morning just like this one. A day before she turned sixteen they were coming back from the grocery store and wind, rain, hale, it got the best of them. There was no drunk driver, no texting or downed trees. Her dad just couldn’t see and instead of pulling over he tried to drive thru it, they went off the side of the road. He died instantly, her mom a week later from internal injuries.
It took her awhile to share that with me, I always wondered why she didn’t go to work, didn’t go out, didn’t even leave the bed when it rained. And one night when I cut my phone off and there was a big storm she showed up at my home the next morning with red eyes and a baseball bat.
“I thought you were dead and if the storm didn’t kill you! I’m going to!”
On the inside my first instinct was to laugh but seeing the look in her eyes I knew better than to do that. Taking the bat out of her hands, sitting down on the porch and pulling her into my lap she told me her story.
An only child, both her parents only children, her grandparents deceased. It was only her after they died, sixteen years old living with a friend of her mother’s. Eighteen years old living on her own, life insurance policies and an inheritance making her wealthy before she even knew how to drive a car.
“I felt like it was blood money. I gave the insurance money to my parent’s church and I sold everything else. I couldn’t step foot in that house. My parents always talked about me going to college and being whatever I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to use their money to party and float thru life, I took it and started a scholarship. I studied alone, didn’t try and join any sororities or clubs, I was afraid to make friends because I was afraid to lose them… Every guy I talked to I either pushed him away or he probably thought I was half crazy.”
I listened to her talk with her back on my chest and the sun shining bright. She told me about the nights when she shivered under the covers when the wind was howling and the thunder sounded as though it would beat down her door. She told me about the sleeping pills and wine that never worked and that she almost overdosed on. She told me about needing to take an exam or failing but she couldn’t even leave out the driveway with the rain pounding on her windshield so she ended up taking the class in the summer.
“I almost came over here last night, I must have called you fifty times, left fifty text. I got dressed and prayed you’d call me back, prayed the rain would stop, prayed I’d stop losing my mind and as soon as the sun came out I flew over here. Don’t ever cut off your phone again when it storms! Do you hear me?!”
Her back was no longer to me, she was straddling me, our foreheads touching. She’d never gave me an ultimatum before and even now this didn’t feel like one.
That was two hours ago but Houston weather was up and down. Sitting on the porch the sun was out and the clouds were gone, now the skies were opening and the wind was singing. I made us breakfast, she showered while I cooked. I showered while she did the dishes and twenty minutes later we were in the bed, her body pressed against mine like the thunder and lightning would reach thru the window and grab her. “Hold me tighter baby, please don’t let me go,” she said. The emotion and fear in her voice made me want to protect her. “I’m not going anywhere, I promise,” kissing her lips and squeezing her tighter, feeling her body shake and shiver every time there was a loud sound. “Just close your eyes and remember your 15th birthday when it was just you three and how much they loved you.”
I told the same story to her she’d told to me a dozen times, word for word. I talked about them taking her shopping everyday for a week before her birthday. I talked about all the restaurants and cake places they went to. I made her laugh, I made her forget the bad memories while the storm was falling around us. The last time we were in this bed we made love more times than I could remember and today I was realizing that I was in love.