“I'm just tired of being a problem.” The silence that fills the car after that statement makes me very uncomfortable. Glancing over at the person sitting next to me, I notice his eyes are closed and his lips almost imperceptibly moving. Understanding him to be praying, I begin looking out the windows. Dark clouds are forming quickly overhead, and I know it is going to rain. It fits my mood.
Eventually he looks over at me. “What... what exactly leads you to believe you are the problem?” Shifting in my seat, I turn so he can't see my face. I begin to smooth the soft cloth cover of the seat. “Well... a small example is my food allergy. I am so tired of people thinking that they have to be SO careful and take care of me all the time because I have reactions. I know that I react badly, but I want to be able to care care of myself. It just frustrates me so much.”
Silence again takes over. I begin to feel his eyes looking straight through me. I wonder if I can get out of the car fast enough to run through the field next to us in the rain. I refuse to look at him, conscious that eye contact will make me cry. Mentally, I disallow myself even the thought of crying. I will be strong, I will pull through. I grasp the idea that crying would make him unhappy, and perceive that I would want physical comfort, a hug, a touch, something personal. Sensing this to be unwise, and perhaps even impossible, I steel myself against all emotion. Remembering I am wearing his jacket, I push it off so that nothing of him is touching me.
I hear him turn more towards me. “Are you alright?” he whispers. I turn to glance at him for a second, and quickly turn away again, the look of gentle sympathy in his eyes tearing at my heart. I make a lame attempt at a smile, and nod my head shortly. Realizing that I am not telling the truth, he reaches out his hand and touches my back gently. I harden my heart for a mere second, but eventually the gentility of his voice and his touch are too much for me. I turn into him and begin to sob on his chest.
It is obvious for one second that this surprises him. He does not pull away, but his breath comes more quickly and I hear his heart pounding. Mastering himself, he begins to softly stroke my back and tell me everything will be alright. The warm, spicy scent of his cologne fills my chest with heat, and I begin to cry in earnest. He draws me closer to himself, continuing to murmur I am okay. His hand goes to my head and he tenderly begins to smooth my hair. The pounding rain and my quiet sobs are the only noise in the car for a while.
After about ten minutes I have settled down into a whimpering cry. I know I should pull away, but I have a comfort in his arms I have never felt before. I close my eyes and relish the warmth and closeness of him. He wraps both of his arms around me, and I snuggle closer into him. My hair has fallen in my face, but I do not dare move to push it away. I merely want to be close to him for that minute.
Suddenly, I notice a change in the atmosphere in the car. I hear him begin to swallow, as though he were fighting tears himself. Surprised, I start to tip my face up to look at him. As I do so, I feel tears start to fall into my hair. Finally getting my face lifted up to his, I see the teardrops coursing down his face. I am totally astounded. My heart swells, and I reach up my hand to wipe away his pain. The tears come faster than I can move. “It's okay.” I barely breathe.
He is done very shortly after he starts. I wonder what is going on inside his head, but am contented to just lean into him and let him caress my hair and back. My hand had been wrapped around his arm, but I move it closer to his wrist. Somehow, we end up with our fingers tangled. Still feeling completely sheltered in his embrace, I have no desire to move. He begins to shift, and I fear he is going to pull away. Instead, he tucks me closer into himself and rests his chin on my head. Gently, he tilts his head downward and kisses the top of my head, just barely brushing my hair. My heart stops for a second, my breath catching in my throat.
A sudden noise startles both of us. The cell phone sitting on the armrest between us suddenly starts singing it's hard, screaming song. We pull away and laugh a little. He answers the phone, and talks to the person on the other side for a minute. I hear a male voice, and figure it is his father, asking him when he will be home. I stretch, my back stiff from being in an awkward position for so long. He hangs up and looks at me. “I have to go now.” I smile at him and nod. “I probably have to go too. Thanks for being my friend.”
That day I learned about friends. I learned that true friends can cry together, even when they are not sure why they are crying. I discovered the feeling of truly trusting someone. And I found the truth in the old adage, “A friend in need, is a friend in deed.”