She pushes herself away from me slightly away but she keeps her arms around me. She looks down at the ground and at the blackness near her feet. She looks up. Clear water blue into pale green. She smiles, barely smiles, not a happy smile but a smile of regret. Of sadness. A smile of mistake and of misunderstanding. She speaks.
I got scared.
Why were you scared?
I was scared you were leaving me.
I'm not going to do that.
I was scared after I told you those things about me that you didn't want to see me anymore. Then I thought somebody on your Unit told you something else.
Those things don't bother me. Nothing I hear is going to bother me.
I thought they did, and when you didn't show up, I thought I knew for sure.
The only thing you need to know for sure is that I'm not leaving.
She smiles. This time it's a real smile.
I don't want to be alone anymore, James.
You won't be.
I cried all day.
Don't cry again. Just think of the word ever.
She smiles brighter, wider, a smile more full of what she is, which is beautiful. Inside and out. The smile. Her. Beautiful. She leans forward and she steps to her toes and she closes her eyes and she kisses me. Long and sweet and slow. I could keep kissing her forever.
We separate. I tell her we should go. Not back, but farther away into the darkness. We start walking, hand in hand, slow steps, there's no hurry. The Woods are alive at night. Twigs crackling, leaves rustling, branches swaying. Moon sitting, clouds drifting. Shadows dancing and threatening and disappearing. Small animals fighting and chattering and foraging for food. Small animals hiding. The living wood.
As we walk we talk. Lilly needs to talk about her feelings about her worries about her fears. I let her. I encourage her. I listen to her. Though the stains of tears have been wiped away from the softness of her cheek, the cause of her tears remains alive and full not faded not yet. She talks softly and easily and without hesitation. She talks about feelings of being left in the past. By her Father and by the Boy in Chicago and by everyone she has ever cared about in her entire life. They left her and they never called and they never sent a letter, never showed her that they loved her, never came back. Not once. Not ever.
She tells about the desertion. How each time it broke her heart. How with each break it becomes harder to heal. How with each time she healed, it became harder to love again. How each time hope faded into desolation. Into loneliness and despair. Into self-hatred and self-loathing. At the beginning there was hope. It faded. At the end there was nothing.
She talks about me in relation to her life. She is seeking freedom. That is all she wants, all she desires, all she hopes to achieve. Freedom. Not just from chemicals but from the cycle of loving and losing, risking and failing, returning to that which she abhors each time returning. She thought she had lost me earlier today. With that she thought she began to lose herself. To feel doors closing on the Prison of self-destruction. She wanted to fight it but she can't fight it all. Not chemicals and her past and the prospect of a dim, solitary, isolated future. She started to need. Need the crack. Need the pills. Need something to kill the pain. She thought about leaving and she almost left. She imagined herself walking out. She was going to to go the Bus Station in Minneapolis and panhandle money for a ticket back to Chicago. Panhandle or worse. When she got to Chicago she was going to go see her Grandmother and say good-bye. Good-bye to the only Person who ever cared about her. Good-bye. There are other ways to achieve freedom. Good-bye.
~A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, pages 312-313