Today was like any other day for Samson, except for the fact that today was the day that he had decided to tell Rachel how he really felt about her.
It was around 7 pm, when he decided to drive his old rusty pick up truck over to her apartment. He had pumped himself up for it all day at work, but now that he was executing his plan, he was starting to have second thoughts.
Talking out loud to himself on the way over, he practiced his lines, “Listen Rachel, there is something I have to tell you,”
Too serious, he thought.
Maybe I should just be blunt, “Rachel, I love you!”
“Yeah, right”, he laughed, “she would flip out.”
Rachel was the type of girl who disapproved of even the word love. There had been a time in her life when she wasn’t so jaded, but heartbreak wore her thin and now she shuttered at the thought.
She was actually engaged once. They were together four years, but after she caught him cheating, the marriage was cancelled. She was never the same.
She would always say, “The only person I will ever love is myself. I’m the only person worth my time.” Samson knew it was just her way of avoiding the potential of another painful break-up.
Over time she became the mysterious type, never had much of anything positive to say and refused to cloth herself in anything but black. Her explanation was that she felt bright colors to be “camouflage for her dark soul.”
But she wasn’t always this way. There was a time when the light in her eyes shined so brightly it could light up the room. Even now, if one were to look hard enough they would see a tiny glimmer of a spark hiding behind the scars of the past and the fear of moving on.
That is when he first fell for her.
They met through mutual friends in high-school, but never really spent much time getting to know one another. After graduation, she moved out west on a quest to find herself and he stayed behind and hooked up with his first love. She left him broken and bruised. A state he thought he would never recover from.
Until he ran into Rachel some years later. She was back visiting from one of her many adventures and just happened to show up at a party hosted by Sam’s best friend. The moment she walked through the door, he felt something he never thought possible again. How had he not noticed it before…the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled, the warmth that ran through his body when she laughed. Her nearness to him felt like home.
They spent the rest of the night side by side. Sharing stories of the past and all their future plans. She left that Sunday, not to return for another three years, when she considered herself ‘found’ and moved back to the town where it all begin.
It had taken eight years for him to muster up enough courage to tell her how he felt and for how long. He wasn’t sure how she would react, but he had to get it off his chest.
Pulling into the parking lot, his hands began to shake as his loyal mutt, now hanging his head out of the passenger window began barking.
“Gunner hush!” He scorned at the little pup. Gunner gave him a whimper of disapproval and began barking again.
Sam opened his door and took his first step onto the scalding summer pavement. He looked the same as usual, wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt just tight enough to show off his nipple piercings, something he was very proud of! His sleeves were rolled up in order to compliment his muscular arms and to serve as a place to hold his smokes. Rachel always teased him about that, “What? Do you think your as cool as James Dean or something?” she would squawk.
His long black hair was swept up in a tousled bun and a rugged goatee fit itself strategically around the metal skull piercing in his chin. As he opened the door for Gunner, his legs began to shake. This was it, the moment of truth.
He and Gunner walked up the driveway slowly, Sam’s stomach at his feet.
There was a large evergreen tree blocking the view of Rachel’s door until just before you reached it, so he took this time to psyche himself up in case she happened to be outside.
He knocked on the door quietly as to almost avoid her actually answering it, as he heard her yell, “Just a sec Sam!”
When the door finally opened, he found himself speechless.
He wasn’t sure if it was the build up from the ride over or the fact that in just a few moments everything could change, but in that moment she was more beautiful than she had ever been before. She was breathtaking, her long brown hair was pulled back in sheer chaos and the makeup around her eyes looked darker than usual, although her porcelain complexion may have helped to exaggerate it. She was wearing a low cut black tank top and skirt that just barely covered her knee-high army boots.
“Hey Sammy” She said with a monotone grin. “I see you brought Gunner, I swear you never go anywhere without that mutt!”
Samson shrugged and said, “Rachel, we need to talk.”
“Well come in you idiot, I’m not stand’n out here all day!”
Samson gulped, his stomach located a bit more uncomfortably now in his chest. He knew that the next time he walked through this door his life would be changed and the scariest part of it all was that he didn’t know if it would be for the better or for the worse. But he couldn’t keep living in silence anymore, so he put fear aside and followed Rachel inside.
Her apartment was as dark and dreary as usual, the radio playing some Gothic medley in the background and he noticed that Rachel seemed a bit edgy.
“What’s your problem Sam? Your making me nervous. Hit this and chill out,” she said as she playfully glared at him and handed him a freshly packed bowl.
Smoking pot was Rachel’s answer to everything. She considered it the cure for any ailment big or small and she exercised her beliefs daily!
Samson took the pipe and began lighting it. Wondering if it was still a good idea, he filled the chamber and cleared it. As he exhaled, he reminded himself that he would have to say something soon, before the drug took hold of his courage.
“Rachel, we have known each other for a long time right?”
“Are you trying to get to something Sam, cause you’re sure taking forever!”
“Just hush and lemme say this, smoke another and chill out.”
Rachel glared at him with her big green eyes, fiddled with the black choker around her neck for a minute and cashed out the pipe. “Okay, I’m waiting!”
“Would you just stop? I’m tryin’ to tell you something important! Why do you always have to be such a bitch?!”
“Screw you Sammy, you have no right to say that. You’re the one being an idiot. I don’t really give shit what you have to say!”
“Yeah well, I don’t have anything to say now, I was mistaken!”
“No one could love a self-centered bitch like you anyway, forget it”, he muttered.
“What did you say? Please tell me you didn’t use the L word in my presence. You know I hate that shit.”
“Well forget I said anything! I didn’t mean it anyway! It’s the pot talking”.
“No, you said something alright. What the hell are you tryin’ to say?”
And before he could stop himself, he blurted, “I love you Rachel! I always have, but I can see now that it is not even worth it”.
Rachel put her head down and began fiddling with her necklace again. “Ugh, you are so dramatic. I need a cigarette!” she huffed.
“Well then I’m leaving, good-bye Rachel!” Samson yelled and stormed towards the door. Gunner followed, but the door slammed before he could make it through.
Rachel dropped her head and covered her face with her hands.
Then suddenly, something inside of her snapped, the levy broke. Emotions she had fought for years to keep buried deep within her soul began rushing to the surface! The bricks and mortar she had pieced together around her heart, crumbled at her knees.
Not sure what to do, she peeled her hands from her face and looked up to see Gunner staring up at her. She smiled.
“Come on Gunner, let’s go after him!”
The amount of enthusiasm in her voice startled the dog, but once the door was open, he was outside faster than Rachel could move out of the way! Spinning backwards to avoid him, she laughed and turned to close the door.
She walked down the driveway slowly, her stomach at her feet.
Thinking she was quite clever, as she passed the evergreen she yelled, “Sam! You forgot your damn dog!
But it was too late. He was already gone. It was just Gunner, sitting in the tire tracks he left behind.
She knew he’d be back eventually. It wasn’t like this was the first time they had argued.
Besides, she thought to herself, he loves me! She smiled, and…I love him.
“Come on Gunner! Let’s go call that goofball and tell him he forgot you!” She laughed.
She didn’t know it then, but this very moment would be the one that defined the rest of her life. It would be the moment that changed her. The one she would come to lean on for comfort in the days to come.
It would be the day she learned to love again, but it would also be the day she lost the love of her life.
When Sam stormed out of the apartment that day, all he could think about was getting as far away from Rachel as fast as possible. Far away from the rejection, the disappointment and the embarrassment of the last few minutes. Tears rolled down his face, his foot pressing harder and harder on the gas pedal with every sob. He drove and drove and drove until he was clear across town.
It was getting dark now and the familiarity of his surroundings was fading. He had no idea where he was going, but it was away from her so it was fine with him.
And then he realized, he forgot Gunner!
“Damn it!” he yelled as he hit the steering wheel with his fist. “I am going to have to go back and see her.”
The tears started again…but…I want to see her again. There is nothing else I want more. What the hell? He thought as he laughed at himself.
Turning the car around now, he decided he would find the nearest interstate, drive back to her as fast as he could and demand she hear him out!
It was raining now and there was construction everywhere! Where was he? How long had he been driving? And then he spotted it!
Through the glaring lights of oncoming traffic, there it was, the sign for I75!
He cranked the wheel, slammed on the gas and in an instant, he was gone.
When the news came, it was from Rachel’s sister, Sarah. She and Sam’s best friend married a few years after the party where Sam first fell for Rachel. Sarah always knew how Sam felt and she also knew that Rachel felt the same way about him, though she would never admit it.
Sarah also knew that this was the kind of news you deliver in person and she worried that this may be something of which Rachel would never recover.
And although it did not break her fully, there was a certainly a piece of Rachel that died along side him that day.
However, what he left her with was so much more. It was not just the courage to love again, but the knowledge that tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
Had it not been for fear, the two of them may have had a love story like none other or maybe not.
Her greatest loss was that now, she will never know.
“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” – Oprah Winfrey