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Her Hand in Mine

by Liam Flaherty

I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago, when I first left, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw the shadow of no parting from her. We had finally agreed to leave that place forever, and maybe now with everything left behind we could be happy. The sun streamed through those familiar evening mists as I felt a pang of regret; had it all been moved too fast, were we doing the right thing I asked myself. It had to be done; we had to leave all the pain and the heartache behind. I looked down at her, the look of pain in her eyes threw me - her beautiful smile wasn’t there. It hadn’t been for a while and it tore through me.

We drove over the crest of the hill that marked the edge of town and a deep feeling of relief washed over me. I felt relaxed for the first time in a long time. I can’t help but fear what I can’t control but I can do my best to shield her from it all, I thought to myself. We didn’t know where we were going, we just knew where we were running from... just driving to get away. Not a word was passed for hours. We slept at the side of the road; I fell asleep just watching her in peace. I awoke to see her standing, just watching the sun come out of hiding. It felt like years since we’d seen it – she had never looked as beautiful to me as she did that morning. She sat back into the car and just looked at me with her soft eyes; “I’m sorry” she whis-pered. I just smiled at her and turned the key in the igni-tion; and we drove off again.

The late afternoon sun streamed into the car. It woke her from her sleep and made me wince. I drove through the fatigue and the blinding sun, just wanting to get away. We reached the coast and decided to stay for a while. The waves devouring the coastline, the sound of birds scavenging to feed their young, the smell of the ocean made me feel at home - made me feel safe. Maybe we could start again here, maybe the rolling hills and the spray of the sea would keep our minds off of the things we try to forget - or maybe we would never stop running. If we never stopped moving nothing would ever be able to catch us up.

I woke in a cold sweat, my heart beating out of my chest. I turned to make sure she was still there. I relaxed a bit and took a deep breath. I stepped out onto our motel balcony, and the cold air against my skin helped me relax. At night the sea wasn’t as comforting: the noises were harsher, the waves seemed to be trying to swallow the town whole. I sat on the end of the bed and watched the covers rise and fall with her every breath – there was something comforting in it. I wondered if she still felt the same as she did when we first met – if I still gave her that same sparkle in her eye. She hadn’t really changed, she could still turn my day around, make everything else seem irrelevant. She was still the same woman I fell for.

I stood on the balcony for hours and waited for the sun to rise above the hills. I hit me then: we couldn’t stay here long, it didn’t feel right. She joined me on the balco-ny; I could tell she wasn’t happy; she wasn’t herself. She said we had to keep moving, that she didn’t love this place the way she needed to. We kept driving; sunset after sun-set. We knew we would have to stop eventually: we would need money – I would need to find work. For now, at least, we would keep moving; until the car gave its last, until its tyres gave a final whining breath, until she fell for somewhere the way I fell for her. Maybe then we could stop.