JUST LIKE LAST NIGHT, I walk silently down the hallway until I make out the murmured whispers from a girl begging God to bring her father back. I gently lay my hand on the door and listen as she slowly melts my heart until it’s a puddle at my feet. My chest aches with the need to walk in there and take away her pain. I’ve never heard such tortured words before. The pain that comes from them is overwhelming and unbearable. Even my own immense pain from losing the ones I loved can’t compare to this. This girl’s pain is so much more.
My head falls forward, and I pull in a deep breath to steady my heartbeat. It’s been quiet for several moments, and I know she’s finished. I let my hand fall from the door, and I walk down the hallway back to the living room. I drop to the cushion and let my head fall in my hands.
They’re leaving tomorrow. The sun is coming out and the temperatures are supposed to be in the lower fifties, much higher than it’s been in days. The snow won’t melt in one day, but it’ll be enough to let the road crew get to the fallen tree and her truck. My call earlier tonight to Travis confirmed they’ll be working on the roads tomorrow.
I’m not ready. It’s unreasonable and irrational, but I don’t want them to leave yet. I’m not ready to give up Daniel’s buoyant behavior or Kelsey’s quiet and depressed mannerisms. I’m not ready to give up Gwen’s giving and resilient personality. I want to keep them here. With me. They’ve brought so much light into my life since they’ve been here, and I want to keep it for a while longer. Which means they need to leave as soon as possible, before my dark world rubs off on them. I want to be selfish and harbor that light, but I won’t.
What hurts the most was the dejected look on Daniel’s face when Gwen informed him and Kelsey they’ll be leaving tomorrow. What surprised me was the morose look on Kelsey’s. That girl and her sad eyes have me wrapped around her little finger. And the boy…. Everyone should have a Daniel in their lives. Gwen tried cheering the two up with promised visits to all their friends once the roads were clear enough for it, but I could tell it didn’t work. I could also tell it wasn’t working for Gwen herself. She tried to hide it, I’m not sure if it was just from the kids or from me too, but I know she doesn’t want to leave either. The four of us, in a matter of days, have become close, formed a bond of a sort. And that right there is another reason they need to leave. I can’t let that continue. It’s not something I deserve. It’s something they need to form with a man who’s worthy. A man who will be there for them always. A whole man, not one who’s only half of himself.
I give my hair one good pull, letting the pain push away the unwanted feelings, before releasing it with a muted growl. I’m pissed at myself for wanting something I shouldn’t. This family is too good for me. I couldn’t even protect my own when they needed me. How could this family be any different? I refuse to take that chance.
I lie back against the cushion and force thoughts of Gwen and her two kids away, and instead let my own demons take over. Closing my eyes, I let the screams of pain and fear flood my mind, reminding me why Gwen, Kelsey, and Daniel are better off without me in their lives.