In the Dark (406 Words)
It is not quiet in the dark.
“Hold me, Ellis.” Jeremy’s voice is strange. It is strained, compressed. We are already close in our hiding place, already touching, but he is turned away from me and my arms are folded across my chest, under my chin, in the curve of his back. He moves suddenly, stiffly, turning on his side. I don’t give him room and his motion is difficult.
When he faces me I put my arms around him. He is shaking and I can feel his heart beating fast, so fast, his breath suddenly loud, rough. I hold him. I press my face into his chest, against his heart.
“Oh God,” he says. “My God.”
I wonder if he is praying. He says it like a prayer. His arms wrap around me, almost too tight. I should tell him not to be afraid. I should say it’s alright. But I know it isn’t, I won’t lie, and so I let him suffer, fight. If he is going to face this, if we are going to face it, he needs to be master of himself—we both do.
“You believe in God?” I turn my face to one side so it will not be muffled.
“Yes.” He is still shaking, gritting his teeth against his weakness.
“Who wouldn’t,” I say, lightly, “in this hell?”
He grips me and doesn’t answer.
“I was raised to believe,” I tell him. I listen to him breathe, feel the tremors that wrack his body. “I thought I believed. For twenty-four years I thought I was a Christian, and then—something happened. It was stupid. I lost a friend. Friends.” I pause to think, to remember what I once was. “This happened,” I whisper. “And suddenly I realized my faith really was all I had ever had. It was that or death. There is more than this, Jeremy, I know there is more. I know you’re afraid. I am, too. I don’t ask you not to be afraid. Just believe, please believe, that there is a good as strong, as fierce as the evil we see.”
“I wish—.” He hesitates, struggles. “I wish I could see it. I wish I could see.”
“I know.” I turn my face against him. His clothes are warm and I breathe in the smell of him, the human smell. “It’s here,” I say quietly. “And it will not leave you. We are not forsaken.”