Novemer 6, 2013
by Adam Scull

I am the door that opens and closes just as fast, the tank that plows into an enemy’s territory.
I am the blade of grass swaying by the wind, then rising back up after the onslaught.
I am the pages of a book, the beginning, middle and end.  When it’s closed, there is still more to draw from it.
I am the waves in the sea, tumultuous, then flowing back onto the shore.
I change like the many colors of the world, from blue to green to deep pink.
I stay the same within, like a molecule that in essence does not alter its true form.
I am more than you or I can imagine, human just as everyone is.
I am like the pen across the page, ever-flowing, moving until the last word is finished, until the letter is written.
And I can fall down like bricks at a demolition site. 
And I can rise like great towers when I find the strength.
I am all of these things.
And I am only human, just as you are.

Cami washed the blood off of her hands.  A desolate ache grew inside her, and a wave of nausea swept over her.  She ran to the toilet, emptying her stomach of the steak dinner she’d had at the restaurant.  She rinsed her mouth out and brushed her teeth to remove the taste. 
She had politely refused Greg’s invitation to go back to his house for coffee.  She knew what that implied.  There would be no coffee involved and, she feared, nothing beyond a one-night stand.  She could read him well; he simply wasn’t the kind to saddle himself to one woman.  Some men couldn’t handle it, and she wasn’t desperate enough to take a chance with him.
            After the business meeting at the restaurant, Cami headed home.  But, she hadn’t expected that dog.  If he hadn’t crossed the road at the moment when she’d looked away, he’d still be alive.  There was so much blood, so much it seemed like an eternity to wash it off.  Even now, when it was off, she felt tainted with it as if had somehow merged with her own, torturing and soiling her soul.
            She remembered wrapping the large mutt in a blanket she’d retrieved from the trunk, placing him in the passenger seat, and lightly touching his back as he trembled on the drive to the vet.  She had held him as he took his last breath; she had held him while the vet tried to do what he could to revive him.  When it was over, the man had tried to console her, saying there was nothing to be done, that it wasn’t her fault, but those were all lies.  What lies people told themselves to feel better!  It was idiocy really to think that no matter what, no one was responsible because fate had a hand in it.  But, someone was responsible.  She was and there had been so much blood, just like when they’d found Graham ten years ago.
            She had felt responsible then too for her brother’s death even though he’d been killed by a mad man.  They had thought he’d been found, that he was alive, when they were called to the scene.  She and her parents rushed there to retrieve her brother only to find him lying in a ditch in the middle of nowhere as cold as a long winter.  The cops had been just as surprised, that the call had been cryptic to them and it just as easily could have been the murderer calling in the scene.  What kind of man would do that?  Or could do that?  How could he just kill someone and then call it into the police like it was nothing to him?  But then, the man had never been found.
            She had blamed herself for they had fought before he’d left for school about, well, she couldn’t really remember what it had been about, but it had seemed important at the time.  And then he was missing.  Just like that, he was gone for several days, and her parents were in a constant state of worry and panic.  And she just felt empty like now.  There was no happiness after that.  Even when he’d been found and they finally knew what happened, the truth was much harder to face than the fact that he’d been missing.  His death left a void nothing could fill, not friends at school or sports or anything she did.  It was meaningless without Graham there.
            Then, in college she met a guy, David Connors, who could make her smile very easily.  They got involved too quickly and it didn’t work out.  That kind of relationship didn’t seem to be right for her, or them for that matter.  She did, however, manage to remain friends with David, and since then, he was the one person she could depend on for anything.  Though they couldn’t be a couple, the friendship had always seemed to work, and he’d always been there for her.  They’d been there for each other through bad relationships, unemployment, horrible bosses or other tough times.
            Now, as she sat mindlessly on the couch in her apartment, void of any feeling except guilt and the flood of old memories, she didn’t know what else to do.  David was the only person who would understand what she was going through.  She didn’t know if he’d be busy or not.  What if he was on a date?  He often dated women he ran into in public; he was an attractive man.  If he was busy, she could probably try Greg.  But, he couldn’t be trusted.  She knew he was a player.  She had heard the rumors at work.  What if he used her weakness to take advantage?  She didn’t want to get involved with that man.  But, she didn’t want to bother David either.  It had been a long time since they’d talked about Graham and the first time had been hard for her.  What else could she do?
            Cami caught her bottom lip between her teeth and nibbled.  Anxious and distraught, she reached for the phone.  David was the safer bet.  She was the closest she ever had been to another person when she was with him.  When they were together, there was no need for fear or secrets.  She could be herself with him.  He was one of the very few people she really trusted.  She dialed the number and when it went to the answering service, she left a message.  Then she hung up the phone and waited.
            It seemed like hours later when there was a knock on her door.  She went to open the door and when she did, he was standing there, looking as handsome and cool as ever in jeans, a nice polo shirt and his black leather jacket.  “Cami, I got your message.  I’m sorry I was late.  I was out.  Is everything all right?”
            She shook her head.  “I’m glad you’re here though.”  She let him inside and closed the door.
            He took his coat off and draped it over the television in the living room.  “What is it, Cam?”  He touched her arm in concern.
            It all came out.  Through the rise of tears, she told him about the dog and the vet’s office and all of the blood.  She told him about how she remembered Graham’s death and the pain.
            He pulled her close against him.  “What happened to the dog is not your fault.  Dogs run into the road all the time.  They don’t know any better.  I’m sorry you had to see all that, but you did the right thing.  You tried to save him.  Most people would have left him there. 
“And as for your brother, I wish I could remove that and say it never happened, but it did and I’m sorry for that.  I wish you didn’t have to go through all of it and I wish this accident hadn’t brought it up for you.  But, you didn’t kill Graham.  That psycho did.  I’m sorry he wasn’t caught and you can’t find closure, but you’ve got to stop punishing yourself.  Siblings fight.  That happens.  You didn’t make him leave.  He was going anyway.  It’s not your fault.  I want you to say it too.”
            He was so sincere; that was what she liked best about him.  “What?”
            “It’s not your fault.”
            “It’s not my fault,” she repeated.
            He pulled back to look at her.  “That’s right.  Now, do you believe it?”
            “I don’t know,” she said uncertainly, drawn by the warmth in his voice.
            “I think the reason this has hit you so hard, other than the fact that the dog was a living breathing creature, is that you never forgave yourself for what happened with Graham.  You never got to apologize or say goodbye before he was taken away from you.”
            “Yeah,” she agreed.
            “A lot of people, Cami, never get to say goodbye and they have to live with that.  But, you’ve held onto not only that, but thinking you’re responsible for Graham’s death and you’re not, okay?”
            “I know.  It was just so hard, knowing that we fought and then suddenly he was gone.”
            “I know.”  He held her close again.
            “Thank you for this,” she whispered.  This time as she felt his embrace, she felt something different.  Human touch was very powerful at times, especially in times of need, but there was something more to the way David held her.  It was like inside, she felt a long held barrier subside and externally, she felt more warmth and compassion coming from him than she ever had. 
Suddenly she needed him on a level she didn’t understand, possibly on a level that she shouldn’t feel with this man.  But, they had both grown in many ways in the seven years since they’d first met, and they were different people.  Could they cross that line again and be just as close?  Could what they had transcend into something more, something real or better than friendship?  Was David feeling what she was?  There was a new layer to what they’d begun long ago, and she wanted to see where it might go. 
She lifted her head to see his face, pulling back slightly but not ending the embrace he’d begun.  His brown eyes were warm with genuine concern and something akin to passion.  Their faces were inches from one another and as she searched his features to see if he was possibly feeling the same, he bent his head to kiss her. 
The kiss was electric, his lips slowly questing against hers; it was comforting yet exciting.  And when his tongue entwined with hers, she felt an explosive rise of wonder and desire, her knees weak as her body rested against his.  He pulled her closer then, his arms resting supportively around her back while his other hand caressed her waist. 
As David continued to kiss her, there was a sense of comfort with a hint of unbridled passion.  She longed to break that control he held over himself.  She wanted all of him.  Cami laced her arms about his neck, drawing him deeper into the kiss he’d begun.  She felt a kind of wildness spread through her and when David bent to carry her in his arms into the other room, being with him felt too right to deny it. 

Lost in the darkness,
I claw for balance,
For certainty.
Blind to all else but fear,
I fight against the numbing sorrow of life.
A hand grasps mine in the darkness,
Close and pure.
I know nothing but the glory of human touch.
And the fear dissipates as surely as the fall
And the sorrow has faded.
In the dark,
Passion and empathy replace the fear.