Embrace – G. Etheridge

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She had been crying for some time now. He was not sure of the reason. She called for his help earlier. He was reluctant, as he knew of the rumors that would surface if anyone found out. It was late at night, and a man and a woman cannot simply sit with each other at such an hour. He had entered her apartment and she sat on the kitchen counter, legs crossed, hands wrapped around herself. Her eyes were dark with the smudge of makeup. Yes, she had been crying for some time now.

Not a word was said as he entered. She turned slightly to acknowledge he had entered, but that was all. He forgot to bring a coat, so he was shivering. He removed his shoes at the door, as he had in the past. He slowly walked across the living room into the connected kitchen. The warm carpet under his feet changed into cold linoleum. He continued to walk across the kitchen and stood at the table, which was a short distance from the kitchen counter where she sat. He looked at her. She was broken in many ways. Still in pain.

She tried to mumble something and he tried to listen. He did not want to ask her to repeat herself. He glided across the floor to her. He raised his right hand to give a pathetic pat to her shoulder. She seized the gesture and pulled him towards her for a deep embrace, her arms under his and her face buried into his right shoulder. She sobbed. He held her carefully but with strong arms. He kept his left arm across her back but moved his right from her back to the bottom of her neck. Her hair was softer than silk and smelled of lavender and roses. She continued to lean into him. Her tears were staining his gray polo shirt. He did not care if it would wash out. Though she was broken, he was captured in a moment of passion. He only hoped that she believed him to be the only person to share this moment. She loosened her grasp on him but he held on and she continued a bit longer. He knew it would last as long as it could without consequence. He released, as did she. The faintest smile crossed her full lips. The whiteness of her teeth came through and she said, “Thank you for coming.”

“Of course,” he replied, quietly. He then gave another pathetic shoulder pat. This caused her to giggle for a brief moment. He followed with his own chuckle.

Their friendship was not as old as time. They had only become close friends over the recent weeks, but it was a mysterious friendship. She did not know of his growing admiration for her, and he knew nothing of her true opinions towards his curious affection when they would interact. Her approach to the young man was to wait until he presented an opportunity, but was too timid to begin such a memory. He often allowed his admiration to become too obvious at times. He was certainly the more accessible of the two,whereas she could be an enigma, emotionally.

“Are you tired?” he asked. He did so in a tone that suggested he was unsure of his own question as well as how to respond to her decision.

“I am. I want the night to end, so maybe I can just sleep now,” she answered while looking at her hands.

She slid herself off the counter and turned the lights off. The staircase that led to her room was directly in front of the door. He followed behind her. Once at the door he began to press his feet back into his shoes.

She already made it a few steps up but turned back around to see him in the middle of his action.

“No. I would like you to come up for a little while, please.” He was shocked and she was confused. She thought he wanted to come up naturally. He did but would never have invited himself up. He whipped his ankle up to fling the shoe off and turned to follow her up. He was happy and so was she.

They entered the room and he slowly shut the door behind him. She went directly to her bed and sat the same way as she did on the counter. He stood his distance just as they were in the kitchen. He had both hands in his pockets. She placed her hands in her lap.

“You’re too good of a person to do anything, aren’t you?” she questioned in a serious tone. He glanced to her and back to the floor and then to the wall. She chuckled, “You are too innocent”.

“I am not. I am not as nice as people think. I am more than capable of doing what I want at any time I want to do it, probably,” he defended himself. He had too many urges in this moment. He thougof the passion they could share. He would never admit it to her. Then she asked a very dangerous question.

“Do you want to kiss me?”

He froze. He looked into her eyes. She was smiling, but then she knew how much it hurt for him to hear that question, and she no longer smiled. He looked into her eyes for many moments until he looked away. He thought about rushing over to her, standing her up, and embracing her fully. His lips on hers. But it was just a thought. “I don’t know,” he said and turned to the door, “I think I should leave now..

She stood from the bed, her arms across her stomach, her eyes swelling up again. “Okay, I will walk you out.” She followed him out the door. He pressed his feet into his shoes. He opened the door.

“Okay, bye.” He attempted to rush out. She grabbed his arm and pulled him back. She wrapped her arms around him and embraced him as they did in the kitchen.

“Thank you so much for everything. I really needed you tonight. For everything. You know what I mean,” she squeezed him in the hug and then let go. He pulled away but wanted nothing more than to stay longer. But he could not. He already had someone. But his heart had been torn for some time now. She knew it as well. They both understood everything and the delicacy of the situation.

Love is difficult. We are told it can only belong to one person from another. Love takes more forms than can be known. At times it is just a connection of the soul and not the body or mind. The body, the mind, and the soul all love in a different manner. Understand it as you wish.

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