Remember When It Rained - Josh

You call and wake me up, asking for directions to Eric's. Half asleep, half excited, I give them to you and then spend my afternoon feverishly working and anxiously anticipating your arrival. It has been nearly two weeks since we've shared anything more than a quick dinner or a short phone call and I can't wait to see you. Our relationship has been strained, but I'm confident it will get better when we can spend more time together.

I lose track of time until I'm informed that you've arrived. I hurry to the foyer where I have been told you are waiting. I pause in the doorway to look at you and have one of those I-can't-believe-you're-mine moments that I had so often during the first few weeks we were dating.

"Hi," I say simply and you turn to face me.

"Hi," you echo.

At the sound of your voice, I instinctively analyze your appearance. You are wearing that lavender and black lace blouse with the little straps and a black skirt that brushes your knees. It's the same outfit you wore to Raleigh's party a few weeks ago. I'm surprised I remember that. I only stayed for a few minutes. I had work to finish.

My thoughts snap back to you and I notice that your face is drawn and your nail polish is chipped. You only pick at your nails when you're nervous.

"Is everything okay?" I ask and fear knots my chest when I see that your eyes are glistening. I want to take you into my arms, comfort you, but you answer.

"I can't do it anymore," you say. "It's over."

"What's over?" I hear myself speak but somewhere I think that I know what you mean.

"Us. We're over."

Hearing you say it doesn't relieve any of the trepidation. My chest is on fire and I forcefully expel the captive air from my lungs.

"Wha…what do you mean?" my tongue trips itself. Somehow, my brain is slow to comprehend what my heart already knows.

"Look," you turn away and pace about the foyer. Your dainty heels click a slow staccato on the tiles as you move farther away from me. "We've both known for awhile now that things aren't working between us, no matter how much we want them to. We've been fighting so much lately that this time away from each other has been a reprieve."

Desperate to hold you, to make things all right again, I stop your stride by placing my hands on your shoulders.

"I know it seems that way now," I try to reason, "but when I get back…"

You put your delicate fingers to my lips and my pleading words die unuttered.

"Things will just get worse," you tell me. "Things are too hectic for me. I can't compete."

Too weak to resist temptation, I pull you close to me and my arms press you against my chest. The rough stubble on my cheeks feels odd against the softness of your hair. I close my eyes and inhale that subtle scent of vanilla that follows you everywhere.

In a strangled voice I whisper, "You don't compete. You've never had to."

You push me back, but I don't let go.

"I have to compete for every second of your time," you say. "I'm so tired," and the weariness in your voice chips at the little bit of composure I have left. "I just can't do it anymore."

A single tear escapes from the emerald pool of your eyes and, without thinking, I banish its presence with a gentle swipe of my thumb.

"You just can't give me what I need."

I feel my own tears taking me prisoner. "I can try harder," I hear the break in my tone.

Silently, you shake your head from side to side.

"So this is it then?" I question knowingly.

"Yeah…it is."

Somewhere, a clock begins to chime and the noise of it resounds through the house in lyrical dissonance to the crashing thunder and the immeasurable tempo of the rain. I watch your hands move behind your neck and you give me back the Celtic pendant I gave you for our three month anniversary. I knew that you searched for a unity of spirit within yourself and the Whole-Being Knot had been my attempt to aid you on your journey. Now, that intricate circle of silver is the last unraveling thread between us. You tighten my fingers around the bauble and then touch your lips to my cheek.

"Good luck. I really do wish you the best."

Just like in the movies, everything moves in slow-motion and everything is blurred, save for the sight of you walking out the door. That image has a painful clarity.

My fingers graze the spot where you kissed me and I long for the warmth that lingers there. I stand for what feels like an eternity and then I hear the roar of an engine.

"Wait," I murmur to the ghost of you and stride to the door. Standing at the threshold, staring into the storm, I watch your taxi begin to drive then I hurl myself into the tempest. The coldness of the rain catches me off-guard and I stand immobile. As the car picks up speed I find myself sprinting down the long driveway.

"Elena!" I cry against the howling of nature and my sneakers crunch on the gravel as I run.

"Elena!" I yell again but my voice tumbles on the wind, lost to your ears.

Blinded by the rain, I do not watch where I am going and I trip over my feet as my sodden jeans envelope my shoes. I pay no heed to the sharp pain of the rocks that dig into my knees when I hit the earth. I watch the taxi near the end of the drive and I call your name with everything that I have and my heart is tangled in the beauty and grace of the word.

"ELENA!"

The cab turns the corner and disappears behind the lush, verdant hedgerow. A dull ache pulses through my hand and I look to see the chain of your necklace dangling from my clenched fist. I unfold my trembling fingers and see that the intricacies of the charm have been impressed in my flesh.

I feel myself shaking with unreleased sobs and I cover face with my marked palm, hiding the hot tears that are mixing with the cold rain. A fragmented memory fills my mind of a time when you told me the meaning of your name. Light, you said. Your name means light.

And so, I begin to whisper your name, invoking it as a beacon to ward off the darkness that I don't have the strength to endure.