“What is your problem?” She asked as we reached the sidewalk.  “You just embarrassed me and insulted one of the richest men in America.”

            “He’s a film producer.” I scoffed.

            “Who owns oil, gas companies, real-estate, factories… He could have handed you a career!”

            “And I told you I don’t want anything handed to me.  I have to go my own way!”

            “You’re missing out on a great opportunity.”

            “It’s just a job.”

            “I mean me,” she said.

            I stopped walking.  I stood on the sidewalk in the cold winter air, feeling the wind pull at my dark coat.  I made a decision.

            “You’re just a girl,” I said.

            I walked away.  I could hear Lilith yelling behind me.

            “Ethan, get back here!  Do you hear me?  Nobody treats me like this!  Get back here.  ETHAN!”

            I walked into the dark night and never looked back.


“You coming to church on Sunday?” My uncle asked the moment I got in his truck.

            “Hi, how are you?” I laughed.

            “I mean it.  Are you?”

            “I’ve been ill the past six weeks, I barely have energy to move.  I think that I’ll probably sleep like the dead after a weekend of working.  So, no, I’m not planning to go to church on Sunday.”

            “You missed Christmas.”

            “I was sick.  Give me a chance to get back on my feet.”

            “Stop dragging them.”  He said.

            We rode in silence to work.


As predicted, I collapsed into bed and slept deeply the moment I was home from work.  Everything ached everywhere.  I sank into darkness.

            The blackness all around me grew brighter and brighter, until I was in a room full of talking people.  They greeted me warmly, celebrating.  I think it was my birthday.  Instead of being happily surprised, I hid under a table.

            Someone came under with me.  I saw that it was my friend Hope, a girl from high school.  She tried to hug me, and I pushed her away.

            “You have to learn to let go, or you’ll never feel safe.”  She told me.

            I woke up, startled into awareness.  Only once before had a dream been so clear.

            “Sometimes friends hold the keys…” I whispered.

            And I had been keeping my heart locked up in the darkness.

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