"I promise I'll always be there."
The phone call that woke you up. Harsh ringing cutting through layers of sleep and eliminating any chance of further slumber. A groggy voice, slurred from the effects of suddenly being woken up or maybe having one too many the night before.
Or maybe both.
You stuck your head out, looked at him. The side of his face eerily lit by the glow of the screen of his cell phone. You couldn't hear what he was saying, if indeed he was saying anything… but you could see his face. The green glow over his skin throwing his aghast expression into relief. Wide eyes, fingers clutching at the phone. H was holding it with both hands and for a moment it almost looked like it was glued to his face and he was trying to pry it off.
Only when it slipped from his fingers, though, did you realize that something was wrong. Something. You didn't know what.
The cell phone crashed to the floor. He remained stock-still; he didn't flinch at the sound. You stared at him, now only seeing his shadow. His shadow moving till he sat across from you. You could barely see his face, the expression frozen like some grotesque still in one of those cheap horror flicks you liked watching.
You stood up. His head moved so that he was looking up at you.
His lips moved, the sound that escaped them something you had never heard before. Somewhere between a sob and a whisper, high and squeaky, almost like it was hysterical, but slow and deliberate like the tone of a man who has everything under control. Controlled hysterics. Hysterical control.
You understood. He didn't have to say anything. Slowly, you crossed over to him. One hand on his shoulder. One on his face.
"She… they said…"
You didn't need to know.
He turned to face you as you sat down. He wasn't crying; boys don't cry. But he was shaking, shaking so hard that when you wrapped your arms around his you could feel him shivering, you could feel the clammy cold sweat that had broken out over his skin.
"I'm scared. I'm scared of being left alone." The little boy held your hand and cried as he clung to you. He was afraid of losing what he had. You clung to him, only because you were scared too. You clung to him because he was all you ever had.
"I'll never leave you. You're not alone. I promise."
A broken promise and a broken heart. The last you saw of him then was his forlorn face as he was led away. You could still feel the damp from his tears on your clothes as you watched him disappear.
You were the one who was alone.
"I'm alone now." A statement, a fact. You shook you head. The boy clung to your hand, just like he had, twenty years ago. You clung to him, just like you had, twenty years ago. Holding onto one another. He buried his face in your shoulder. Now he cried; small, pathetic little sobs and whimpers and tears that left the material of your clothes damp. He cried for the twenty years both of you had lost, for the twenty years of loneliness. For the twenty years she had kept him away from you.
And you cried too. You cried because it was all finally over.
"I'll never leave you again. You're not alone." Your voice was whispered, and your fingers intertwined with his.