“Never let someone else decide who you are, or who you should be.”
|Her dark eyes were fixed, unseeing, on the water’s surface. The reflection of the last, straining rays of the sun on the lake made the red tints of her dark hair shine like fire, and bathed her skin in hues of orange and pink.
I followed her gaze out to where the light danced on the still water, creating patches of iridescent brightness on the dark surface of the water.
The warm breeze faded away, and the summer air was still and heavy, the only sound the crickets in the trees surrounding the lake.
“But what if it doesn’t?” Her voice was barely above a whisper. If the breeze had been blowing at that moment I was sure her words would have been carried away by the wind, out over the lake somewhere and lost amid the silence.
She hadn’t spoken in so long I’d almost forgotten what the response meant. “What if what doesn’t?”
She turned her eyes to me for the first time in a long while. The deep brown was clouded with worry and anguish and a trace of sadness that struck a chord of empathy somewhere deep within me.
“What if it doesn’t help? What if it only makes things worse?”
I regarded her a moment before I found the words to answer. She looked so beautiful in this light, partially shrouded in shadow as the sun slowly died.
“All you can do is try.”
She turned those cloudy brown eyes back out over the darkening lake. She didn’t answer for a moment. When she did, she turned toward me again and I could see the tears threatening to fall. But I knew she wouldn’t cry. She never did.
“What if he doesn’t understand?” Her voice broke slightly as she spoke.
I opened my mouth, ready to reassure her that he would. Of course he would. But I couldn’t say it. I knew that was what she wanted to hear, but I couldn’t say it. I could give her no guarantee that he would understand. Nor could I predict how he would take it. All I could do was offer her whatever small comfort I was in a position to give.
“Then at least you tried.”
A whisper of wind played at the loose ends of her hair a moment and then faded into nothingness again, leaving the air heavy and oppressive once more.
“All you can do is try,” I said. “You can never make someone understand something, as much as you might want to.”
She lowered her gaze. “I know.” Looking out over the lake, she leaned back onto her palms against the grass and dirt and pine needles. “I know.” She sounded slightly more convinced this time.
“Never let someone else decide who you are, or who you should be,” I told her, leaning forward to her shoulder.
She turned to see me, those strong brown eyes I knew so well regaining some of their familiar confidence.
I said nothing. I merely nodded.
She searched my face a moment, then looked away. “You’re right,” she said finally. “It’s nothing to me what he thinks. If he can’t look past this to see that I did care for him, it’s his loss.”
I placed my hand on her shoulder. “That’s what I wanted to hear.”
She smiled. It had been so long since I’d seen a real smile grace her features. If ever I had doubted the existence of angels, my faith was renewed in the presence of one so beautiful as her.
The breeze slipped through her hair, framing it against her face, the final rays of the sun streaming through the strands to colour it a shimmering mahogany wine.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
She wrapped her arms around me, pulling me close to her. My heart quivered as her warmth seeped through my body. I closed my eyes, letting her heat flow through my veins, warming the very depths of my soul. I could feel her heart against my chest.
“I will be here for you,” I whispered. “I will be here forever.”