You appeared one night with him and crashed on our couch. You were an afterthought. Very quiet. I had never even as much as heard your name. You slept that night curled into him, seemingly claimed. Whatever, you would be gone in the morning.
Until the next morning when we talked. You were still quiet, and scared. You had been through so much recently and he was definitely taking advantage of that. You stood up to him and put your foot down. My eyes were opened that you were so much more than you seemed. That whole day I kept glancing at you from the crack in my door, you were such a distraction form online college courses that had been such a drag. I had tried to talk to you, you were guarded. You were tired. You were beautiful.
Did I really know why you turned down every offer of anything that I would have considered being a considerate host? Those who have been abused for so long can hardly comprehend anyone giving them something for nothing. The picture that had been starting to form in my head was not pleasant, but as you revealed more from your recent past I started to admire the perseverance and integrity, such a show of strength of character, you were an example of the person I had always wished and failed to be.
And your smile. Such a rare delight. The night we sat with H. and played board games until the early hours and you opened up. You were radiant, and I, captivated. I didn't notice at the time but you were slowly chipping away at the ice around my heart. I felt alive in your presence, but there was always a looming black cloud. Your past was calling you and you could no longer stay away. You left us with a promise to return. I didn't believe you, but in your absence I realized what you had so quickly become to me.
Days of correspondence through spotty reception and more memes and emojis than could possibly be healthy, I lived the nightmare you were going through and my only solace was to be as much as a comfort as I could. You couldn't know my feelings, or how deeply I felt every disappointment you encountered. You needed to get away from it again, and you called to be picked up almost an hour away.
Had I known that you were alone with a backpack of your belongings on a park bench in a rough part of that city I would have been speeding to get to you. But as it was my heart was clenched and my anxiety was all but making me sick as I strictly obeyed an arbitrary speed limit that was keeping me from you. You couldn't have known that I waited all day for that call, that I blew off all plans on the off chance that you might be left somewhere like this. And as I pulled up to where you were you smiled and everything felt right once again.
I talked too much, like a fool. I took you to eat as the most harrowing non-date I'd ever been on. You couldn't allow yourself to be a burden on anyone and promised you'd pay me back, and I still will not let you. You had a cold and fought about the act I bought you medicine. The purity of your heart melted me, and I could not contain my overwhelming desire to take care of you. That night you said you slept peacefully in the first time in a while. I was on could nine.
(to be continued...)