I cringe, wishing it hadn't come to this. I can hear her furiously storming through the school hallways to reach me. And she knows that I knew. Man, this is going to suck. The door slams open and I shrink from her angry parade into the semi-empty classroom. The other students stare as she pins me to the wall. Who wouldn’t stare at a five-foot-three girl pin a six-foot guy to the wall.
“You knew?” she demands again with no regards for her surroundings.
“Do you really want to do this now? Here?” I plead, glancing at the other straggling students, hoping to postpone this inevitable encounter.
“Get. Out.” She orders, turning her menacing scowl on any and every one as they flee the room, taking all my hopes of escape with them. As soon as everyone is gone she whips back to me and I involuntarily flinch. Anger and Hurt fester in the deep brown depths of her eyes. We are so close I can see the flakes for red sprinkled in those beautiful eyes.
“You knew,” she states, tears welling up.
“Yes,” I say ashamedly averting my eyes to stare at our shoes. She stumbles back into a vacant chair as the water works begin. She’s silent as tears flow uninhibited down her rosy cheeks, a faraway look pervading her face. Cautiously, I crouch down in front of her but she doesn’t see to see me. I reach for her limp hands resting in her lap but hesitate before touching them. I can tell she’s broken and not just by what has happened but by the future to come and the fact that I knew it was coming and didn’t warn her.
I gently cover her delicate hands with my much larger ones. She jerks violently from my touch, hatred lacing the agony written all over her.
“How could you?” she seethes. “How could you know and not tell me?
“You know what? I don’t want to know. How could you know he was returning and not tell me, not warn me?!”
“It wasn’t a guarantee and I didn’t want to upset you with something that may not happen,” I whisper but I don’t think she hears because she continues as if I haven’t answered her.
“I trusted you! Told you what he did. And this is what you do? How could I be so foolish? I should have known. You’re all alike – you men.”
“No! I’m not like him!” I burst in frustration.
“You are!” she shouts back.
“I’d never hurt you like he did!”
“But you just did,” she quietly agonizes, more tears pouring from her bloodshot eyes.
Roughly and without compunction I pull her into my lap. She fights me, kicking and wailing like a small child. She doesn’t have enough strength left to so any real damage, so I cradle her tenderly until she is spent and clinging to me. My shirt I becoming soaked with all the snot and tears being expelled from her slight frame but I don’t care. She is far more important than any shirt. I only wish I hadn’t caused these tears.
“I am so sorry,” I whisper as her sobs begin to wane. “I have no good excuses. Truth is: I was afraid to tell you. I know how hard – impossible even – that it would be for you. I didn’t want to see you like that ever again. Like how you were after he left. I’ve just barely gotten you back. I can’t lose you again.”
She trembles from exhaustion as her tears return to silence. Tucking her head under my chin we sit there, still after the storm, peace beginning to return. Soon her shaking ceases and the steady rhythm of her breaths alerts me to her sleep. Even in sleep she continues clutching the soiled fabric of my shirt. I stand, careful not to wake her as I take her home. When she wakes up, maybe we can talk and maybe – hopefully – she will forgive me for not telling her sooner.
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