A Touch of Hope

It is cool and soft as I stand staring out over black water. The sand between my toes is smooth, shifting. There is no moon, only the gentle twinkle of starlight. The only sound that of the wet hiss of waves against smooth pebbles.

I wrap my arms around myself and sigh into the whisper of wind. It is so quiet. So peaceful.

So empty.

My body aches, tired and sore from the run that has mysteriously brought me to this forgotten shoreline. A spontaneous escape from stifling emotions. I had craved movement, fresh air, and solitude. And so I had disappeared, run away, and now I find myself quietly contemplating the harsh and unwanted memories that refuse to be pushed from my mind.

It is hard. To feel whole. I am broken on the inside and it feels as though the shards of me will never fit back together. There are too many pieces missing. I am no longer fixable.

My arms drop to my sides and I close my eyes against the sight of endless dark waters and turn inwards to the endless dark feelings inside. They are so similar. Wide, empty, tempestuous, dangerous.

There is a sudden prickle of sensation on my right arm and I open my eyes, turning slightly. I am not surprised by what I find. The barest of feeling against my arm is now so familiar.

You are standing there, a dark shape in the blackness of the moonless night. Your hand is held out, hovering just above my arm. Your fingertips so close but not touching. You do not need to touch for me to know you are there. It has always been that way. My ability to sense a touch just before it actually happens is well known to you. A byproduct of nervous energy and a touch starved past.

"You remembered," I say as I continue to watch your fingertips softly graze my forearm before pulling away.

"It is kind of hard to forget how easy it is to startle you," you reply with a shift of posture.

I turn back to look out over the water once more. "It's not your fault," I say. "I just sometimes get into a place where the rest of the world no longer exists and an unexpected touch can be a frightening thing when you don't remember that there are people around you."

"I've been there before."

There is a rustle of fabric and I can feel you come up to stand at my side. I can just make out your profile, dark black against heavy gray. The starlight just enough to distinguish you from the rest of the night.

We are quiet for a long time. The wind shifts into another direction and, for a moment, the salty smell of the ocean is replaced with that of damp earth and green grass.

"It's so dark sometimes," I say. "So hard to see."

The prickle on my arm reappears, a query of permission. I do not pull away and the warm pressure of your fingers slides around my wrist, slipping down to curve around my hand.

"What's hard to see?" you ask.

I sigh and cling tightly to your hand. It is a long moment before I am able to answer.

"Hope."

You hum softly and your fingers briefly squeeze mine.

"Can you see me right now?" you ask.

I turn my gaze away from the water and fix it on your silhouette.

"I can only see your outline," I say. "But I can't make out any details."

"When you first saw me, did you know who I was?"

"Instantly."

"Could you see detail then?"

"No," I say.

"When I first reached out to you, did you know who it was that was close by?"

I cannot stop my smile even though I know that you cannot see it. "I will always know when you are near."

Your hand pulls against mine and I turn at your urging. Your free hand finds my own and I can feel you looking at me. I do not need to see you to know that your gaze is intense.

"Hope is a funny thing," you say. "It can be a bright complex shape that sits in front of us with open arms and happy smiles. It beckons us to keep trying and to keep pushing. But other times it is formless, almost invisible. And sometimes it cannot even be seen at all."

You pause and I am silent. I wait patiently for you to continue because I can feel the weight of what you are trying to say pushing at the narrow space between us.

Finally you continue.

"Hope is not always easy to see," you say. "But it is not hard to recognize by feel. Stop looking so hard for the details. Reach out and find that familiar feeling and the rest will come in time."

I am quick to see your point and I just about drop into your embrace with the relief that washes over me. You wrap your arms around me and I let my forehead fall to rest against your collarbone.

It is all so clear now.

I can see your face in my mind's eye every time your fingers come close without touching. That single act that informs me that you are there and asking for my blessing to be allowed to go any further in your quest for grounding physical contact. I do not need light to see you. I need only a memory. A feeling.

It is the same with hope.

My mind can wander to dark places sometimes, often losing the path behind me in the depths of strength sucking blackness. But it does not mean I am completely lost. It just means that I need to feel for that comforting touch. The brush of familiarity that will quickly solidify into the wonderful thing known as hope.

I tug you into a tighter hug and breathe my thanks into your ear, smiling as your grip tightens as well.


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