You sink down lower. You slide down the wall until you reach the floor. Everything is white and sanitized. The linoleum is hard and cold beneath your palms. Goose bumps run up your arms and a shiver creeps down your spine. You let your mind drift off as your eyes close. Soon the empty clean smell fades as the memories flood your mind and take over your thoughts.
You were in a car. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. Your new found friends were beside you and you were all laughing. The girl next to you turned. Her hair fell over one shoulder and your eyes met. She smiled and you tried hard not to grin. She was the reason why you were there and the reason that you'd been going to the youth meetings and the rally three hours away from your home.
The memory ends as your head drops into your clammy hands. Your eyes stay closed, pressed against your palms, and you draw your knees up to your chest. You focus on your breathing. It's the only thing keeping you alive at this point. You take air in and push air out, deeply and slowly. Your breathing does not help your racing heart however; as it beats faster, you remember more.
"Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down," a man, with a guitar strapped around his shoulders, stood on stage with one hand raised and his head bowed. The lights were dimmed on the packed arena while people flocked to the front of the stage to kneel. You just sat there, overwhelmed, and a little scared by the power of it all. You looked to your right. She was standing with a group of people. Her eyes were closed, her hands were raised, her smile was so radiant, and you could hear her singing along.
"You're altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me."
Your heartbeat slows, the same way it did that night, as her voice resonates through to the far reaches of your mind. You raise you eyes smoothly upwards and stare out at the sunlight through the frosted glass windows. Your throat tightens and you try hard to swallow and stop the tears. You squeeze your eyes shut as you feel the blood rising and your face grow hot. A sensation of solitude comes over you and envelops your heart. You're scared but, there is nothing you could have done. Except only . . . if only . . .
"I just can't believe! Don't you get it?" Your voice was angry and you could clearly see the hurt in her eyes. You bit your lip, pulled it slowly out from between your teeth, and wondered if you'd gone too far. You were sick of being preached to.
"Why?" She pleaded. "What's holding you back?" Her voice cracked and she lowered her eyes. You wanted to yell in frustration and hold her all at the same instant. She whispered, "I just wish you could feel it."
"Feelings won't change anything!" You shouted back. "I just can't believe in a God who would let little children die, let people starve and murderers go free!" You were breathing hard with emotion. Her brown eyes were drowned in tears and she spoke quietly.
"Well, then, maybe we shouldn't be together anymore."
Those words rush back to you, piercing you through the heart, and you wish that you could take it all back; do things differently. No matter what you can't change the way it turned out. All you know to do is press forward and cling to your lifeline. That's how you grew up. It's all you've known. Nothing can change you or your circumstances. You don't need anyone, right?
You were driving home. It was just after sunset and the first stars of the evening were appearing. Your headlights lit up a barren patch of country road in front of you. There was nothing but fields and trees on either side of the road. Settling in for a long and boring drive, you turned the radio on, and sunk back into your seat. You noticed the reflection of an animal's eyes to the left of the road, but other than that the road seemed empty. Suddenly the faint sound of a siren reached your ears. You sat up, more attentive than before, and it didn't take long for you to recognize the flashing lights in your mirrors. You pulled slowly onto the shoulder, the sirens grew louder, two police cars and an ambulance flew by you. You stared after them curiously and steered back onto the road. You followed and watched the scene of the accident come closer and closer. As you came upon it, you realized the severity of the crash. There were pieces of both cars all over the road. Your heart leapt into your throat as you recognized your friends green two-door. You stopped on the side and got out of your vehicle in a hurry. Slamming the door, scared and worried, you jogged over and got a better look at the collision. There was a dip in the road, the green car had swerved into the left lane and hit the other car head on. Neither had time to react. They impacted at full speed. As you came closer, you saw your blank-faced friend being pushed into the back of a police cruiser. A stretcher rolled by and you caught a brief glimpse of the victim. It was her. You froze. A thousand feelings hit you at once. Your breath was taken away as you called her name weakly. You stumbled toward her but you were stopped by an officer who took your shoulder. He asked you to leave the scene, "everything was taken care of," he said.
You vaguely heard him. You pushed your way past and shook your head. You had made your way over to the stretcher in time to watch helplessly as the paramedics lifted her into the back of the ambulance. "Another drunk driver," one muttered. The officer took your shoulder once again. His hand felt like lead weighing you down. He led you back to your car. You got in willingly and started to drive away. Your mind was made up and you followed the sound of the ambulance's sirens.
"Here I am to say that you're my God . . . " her singing voice echoes in your mind so loudly it seems that she is almost there with you. You can picture her with eyes closed and hands raised in worship. She always had something you wanted in that aspect. A certain peace, a hope, and in that moment of thought the answer comes to you.
Humbled and terrified, you kneel down on the cold linoleum and address that love you'd denied all your life. Your words come out quiet and raspy.
"Dear God," you stop, not knowing what to say. You draw in a shaky breath and continue slowly. "Here I am. I can't do this alone anymore, I . . . I need you to show me the way. The way to help save her." Again you pause and try to swallow the lump in your throat. You can no longer stop the tears as they trace streams down your cheeks. "I know that I've done a lot of bad things. And I don't deserve to have you help me. But, I'm desperate for you," you begin to weep, "please come and rescue me."
As you pray your first prayer, broken and wounded, you feel the world around you fall away. Your burdens that have been weighing you down for so long, are lifted up. He binds up the brokenhearted and heals their wounds. For the first time in your life you feel it, and you know why she believed.
You open your eyes and stand. The sunlight filtering in seems a little brighter now than before. You make your way back down the hall. All the busy noises have turned into a monotonous drone. As you go to her bedside, you wipe your eyes. The monitor resounds the empty beating of her heart and the respirator breathes in and out rhythmically for her. You sit and reach for her hand. After one last moment you lean forward and kiss her cheek softly.
"I believe. I really do believe. Thank you."
A shadow of a fragile smile passes across her pale face. Fresh tears well up in your eyes and you can feel her letting go. As the heart monitor flat lines you realize that you couldn't help save her. She helped save you.