~ For H ~
I can still see her. Dressed all in black. Standing at my side, just a half step behind. If I turn my head, I know she’ll be watching me with that quiet smile that she always gives to everyone, even if I can’t really see her face.
She says hello with a silent nod and downcast eyes. Even if I could make out her features, I know her expression would never give away the fear she feels. Expecting to have to pay dearly for any kindness directed her way. Not knowing that any sort of kindness exists, except the type that expects some part of her in return.
I’m always surprised that her image isn’t distorted by all the pieces that are missing.
And still, she doesn’t move. Doesn’t say a word. Doesn’t want to be noticed.
Sure that nothing she did would be enough, she stopped moving unless someone told her to. Certain that anything she had to say would never be heard, she lost the will to speak, unless it was to agree.
Always to be agreeable. Too afraid to do anything else.
I’ve learned to love her. To keep her close. Protected against the things she’s afraid of.
Because I’m not afraid anymore. I’ve become so much stronger than I ever thought I was capable of. I move on my own, even when she can’t. I speak my mind, even when she’s so scared that the words choke in her throat. And when she trembles, barely able to breathe, frightened of the monsters that want to keep her locked in nightmares from years ago, I stand in front of her.
I cherish her, always taking her by the hand and leading her one step further. Because there is no me without her.
No present without my past.
She is my shadow.
Always a part of me.
Because there can’t be any light without dealing with the darkness. And as I turn my face to the sun, I know she does too.
And I am… we are… stronger.
I hear her, faintly in my ear, as she says, “I’m so glad to be here.”
And we keep moving.