Four years ago it hadn’t been possible.

Tonight it might be.

The air was heavy and empty; it was thick and yet completely void at the same time.  The darkness surrounded her and night poured timelessly into her window, apathetic to her past, present and future.  She reached out for something with ears and whispered words that got softer as they became more serious.

A rumbling murmurs overhead.  Bright flashes momentarily turn the sky from black to grey.  Then the blackness, in its empty fury, swallows the outlines of trees and bushes once again.  From inside and halfway underground a storm seems more cleansing than it does menacing, she thinks.  There is probably rain but she can’t see or hear it from where she sits; the small trees, rooted in rock, guard her window from that small part of the storm.  Thunder sounds like rolling dice or cracking knuckles…maybe a stomach rumbling or a deep, jovial laugh.  Lightning is degraded to the incessant flipping of a light switch or the flash of a camera.  There is nothing frightening about the storm outside her window.  In fact it seems to whisper shreds of truth through the glass.

First she paced, hoping that movement would encourage the words she needed to come out of hiding.  Three steps forward, turn.  Three steps forward, turn.  Three steps forward, turn.  Pacing turned her into a caged animal.  She sank to the ground, back against the wall, arms propped up on her knees.  She folded and unfolded her hands, as she talked softly to the air.  She railed against the logical parts of her personality until they let her, at least for a moment, talk to the Something in which the world had taught her not to believe.

Sitting on the edge of her bed she stares out her window and watches lightning rip across the sky.  Daylight peeks through thin slits in the inky dome for a moment or two and then snaps the blinds shut again.  The crackling of the thunder is not scary; it is honest, painfully so.  Water that is not rain slides down her cheeks as she realizes that the exchange she almost had the courage to make four years ago still haunts her.  Time, decay and six feet of dirt make it impossible now, but she begs again anyways.

Finally, she had knelt, face down on her bedroom floor, rubbing her wet cheeks against the wax that had spilled there when she used to light candles, snuff them out with her fingers and then light them again.  Words spilled out of her mouth as she begged for leniency and grace and anything else that sounded more like a coma or semi-colon than a period.

Let the clock rewind.  Let years full of grief and emptiness and hollow adventures fade into nothingness, because that is what they were.  Let the people she touched forget her face and her name and be that much better for the loss.  Let the lively tan fall from her cheeks and fade to white and then ash.  Bring him up from the ground and put him back in his chair and let his cheeks brighten from their ashy gray, to white, to pink.  Take the health in her and put it in him.  Put her in the ground and take him out.

Youth had overcome her in that moment, though, and the words to the request she wanted to make stuttered uselessly across her mind and refused to dance off her tongue like she wanted them to.  She knew that the passion in her heart was soulful and genuine.  She was not lying to herself or to Him in what she thought, but the words would not come and whenever she got close to roping them together in the right order, fear overcame her and she would backtrack madly, scattering qualifications like birdseed.

She is serious this time.  Four years is a long time.  Lessons are learned and patterns are set.  She knows the answer to the uncertainty that stayed her hand last time and because of that her doubt has disappeared.  She knows now.  As her disappointment in herself falls out of her eyes she looks to the sky and asks again.

She wanted to be his Atlas.  The grief and pain and shortened lifeline were all things she would take for him if only he could continue to exist and bless and love those around him.  She wanted so badly to ask for those crosses in return for his vitality.  But she couldn’t because on some level she was afraid that of all the requests she had ever made of the Mystery in the sky, this would be the only one granted.

This time she will not waver.  This time she knows that the promise she had seen in the years to come was a lie.  She knows that where he sowed love and understanding, she dropped bombs.  Where he invested himself with such love and care in the lives of others, she only consumed, complained and wallowed.  He was a giver.  She was a taker.  He was deserving.  She was not.

She was too young to die.

He was to good to be dead.


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