By the time Rachel’s head had stopped spinning from the sudden motion, an anxious throb had settled behind her eyes. She sat on the cool metal, knees under her chin and eyes squeezed tightly shut. She wanted to scream the pain away, open her mouth and exorcize the pain that was filling her throbbing scull. Why had she done it again? What had possessed her to pursue such a familiar area in her mind that had only caused her pain in the past. She scolded herself, begging silently to a higher power to take it away. She couldn’t handle it. She never handled it in the first place.
When she finally opened her eyes again, she was surprised to find a defeated Dave sitting on the bench in front of her. His feet were in the seat, and he rested his elbows on his knees as he balanced his rear end on the back rest. Fiddling with his hands, it was evident that he was concerned. His lips that curled around his teeth tattled on the fact.
"Are you alright?"
Rachel blinked, turning her glance to her feet. He just wouldn’t give up.
"I told you I don’t wanna see you anymore."
"Because…its too hard. If it all goes to shit again I’ll be back at square one. Its too much of a risk."
"I’m taking a risk too, ya know?"
"Just like before, huh?"
Dave wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but he was positive that Rachel was referring to his marriage. He chose not to ask, aware of how touchy the situation was.
"Why won’t you let me be here for you?"
"There’s nothing you can do, Dave. Its over with."
"There is something. You just refuse to let me do it."
"And what would that be?"
Dave pushed off of the bench, taking wide quick strides towards Rachel and kneeling down beside her. He tilted her chin up, forcing her to look at him with his index finger, then wrapped his long, strong arms around her. Rachel didn’t know what to do as he arms hung at her sides, eyes wide and mouth wound up into a scowl. Dave stood up with her, snapping her back into reality as she tried to wiggle away from him.
Dave just squeezed tighter, arranging his arms and allowing himself a better hold. “Stop it. Just let me.”
Rachel relaxed against him, letting him try and squeeze her pieces back together. She stood in his arms for a moment longer, limp and lifeless, before weakly wrapping her arms around the small of his back.
Dave let out a light chuckle as he reached up and slid the hair off of her shoulder and pushed his mouth against her bare neck. He inhaled sharply, taking her in and causing little bumps to rise on her skin. “See? Its not so bad. You have to let me back in.”
"I don’t have to do anything."
"But you want to?"
"I do. I want this." Something about being pressed against Dave and not having eye contact with him made her brave. It was easier to let the wall down.
"Let it happen. You have tried to control every single aspect of your life since day one. Sometimes things just need to happen."
Dave’s words only served to remind her of the past. The hospital waiting room when Gran had her stroke. The silk pajamas he loved so much. The sound of the lawn being mowed. The broken mailbox. The record store job…Lonny. The blonde in Houston…and Dave. Her long haired, goofy, never-without-a-smile Dave. She missed him. She forgave him…she was able to admit it to herself.
"I don’t know how."
"I’ll help you. I want to help you. I wanna help you heal…and forgive…and be happy."
Rachel’s eyes squeezed together and overflowed as she balled her fists into Dave’s T-shirt. She was crying again…damn it…but it wasnt like before. With every tear that drained from her eyes, a sense of relief came with it. It wasn’t Dave she needed to forgive, it was herself, and it felt so good to know she was being given a second chance.
"Promise me you’ll never leave me. Please."
"Rachel, I’ll never ever let you go again. Nothing could keep me away. Not even you."
Silent sobs escaped her as she felt the relief wash over her. She was terrified this feeling would leave, but so happy that she was feeling it again.