The Warmth I Almost Forgot

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I keep running, faster and faster. The dry leaves crunch under my bare feet as I go. Why is this man following me? I don’t know what to do. My heart’s beating so fast…I’m sure the man, gaining on me, can hear it so clear. All I can feel is the crisp morning air and the heavy thud of my heart pounding in my chest. I’m so scared…the man’s heavy boots are getting closer. I can hear them…the constant, steady thud, thud, thud of this feet hitting the ground. Soon he will be upon me, and then what will I do? There is no where for me to hide, for he will see me where ever I go. More importantly, what will happen when he has me? I don’t want to die today…I still have so much more to do, I think. (I can never be too sure about these things.) My feet are aching and I can feel that I have scratches all over them. He’s almost got me and…
I stop. Why am I running? The man softly says my name, sighing with relief. Then he wraps his warm arms around me, and I can feel his gentleness and care. I’m not afraid, but I don’t know him. I just stand there, with his arms around me, and I somehow feel comforted. We both stay quiet, heavily breathing and exhausted from all the running. It’s an odd feeling, to be comfortable in a stranger’s arms, but somehow I seem to belong here. He’s tall, but not too tall, and somehow seems to fit perfectly out here in the cold evening air. The man has a cold look about him, like maybe he’s just on his own and has no one else. But I can tell, from the way he looks at me, maybe I’m somebody he has, I just don’t remember having him. Despite the coldness people see, I see the warmth in his eyes. When he looks right at me, it’s there, the care and love he feels. Although I see all this in him, I still don’t know anything about him, so I don’t know why he seems to know me. I feel like he will ask why I was running from him, but the words never come. As we stand there, I can feel the beating of his heart against mine and each breath he breathes out on my neck. It’s all so warm compared to the cold I was in. I just feel at peace, somehow. But I know I am dirty, tired and scratched up. I’m not sure what I should do. I feel odd just standing here, but why should I embrace this man I do not know? I feel like I should but then again, I’m not sure. Luckily, I don’t have to choose. He finally pulls away, still holding my arms though, I notice. He just stands there, looking at me. I can see the warmth again. When I look at him I feel like he can know everything about me, just by looking. The man’s eyes have a pull on me, making me to stay there with him. I feel like I should be scared, but I somehow feel completely safe with him. He looks at me still, with those eyes of his. I know neither of us have spoken at all, so I feel like I should say something but I can’t even begin to think of what to say. I’m sure if I even tried speaking, no words would come. Finally, the man comes closer and takes my hand. All I do is look at him, but I let him take my hand. The warmth is a lot to pass up, especially on a night like this. I think I must be shaking from the cold, because he takes off his jacket and puts it around my shoulders. At least I am a little warmer now, but just standing here isn’t helping much. I am still very cold, but I think he knows because he starts to walk back some way that I don’t remember. As we walk, I know I am just spacing out, in to some other world I’m sure. But neither of us utters a word, so it is probably fine. I stare out into the thick forest around us, my mind seeming to drift further and further away. Somehow in my mind, I feel like everything will be okay, but then again, my mind hasn’t been right lately. Suddenly I get this feeling in my head. It’s like I’m getting so close to seeing something, but at the same time, getting further away. For some reason, this seems like a familiar feeling to me. I start to think about why that would be, but then my mind seems to go blank for a split second…
I wish I knew what I was doing here, and who this man was. Why am I walking with him? I stop…again? I don’t know. Is this the first time? I’m not sure. I think he notices, but just gently pulls my hand and keeps walking. I guess I’m supposed to follow. He must know me. Why else would I be here? Maybe I should just talk to him instead.
“Hey,” I say, lightly tugging on his hand, “what am I doing here?”
“You were lost.” He glances back at me. “But it’s alright now ‘cause I found you.” I’m afraid to ask who he is; I think I should know. I hesitantly ask, “W-who are you exactly?”
He looks down. “You loved me once.” A surprised look comes across my face. “But…not anymore?”
“No, you still do, but…” His hand holds mine tightly but there’s a gentleness that now feels different to me somehow. “Those feelings are hiding. I guess it just seems like something of the past now.”
I go quiet after that. He sounds so sad and it all just doesn’t make any sense to me. How can I love this man? I’m sure I don’t know him, but he says I do. I look up at him only to see him staring straight ahead. He looks like he’s thinking intently about something. I wonder if he hates me now. I don’t know why but I feel like maybe it’s my fault that I forgot I loved him. I wish I could change it; I wish I could remember him. I look down. “I…I’m sorry.”
He sounds surprised, “For what?”
I look up to see him looking back at me. For some reason I feel my face get hot. I’m not sure why. But then, for the first time, I realize the man I’m looking at. I know that I don’t know him, but somehow, I understand how I love him. I quickly look down. He gently shakes my arm to get my attention. “Hey, why did you say sorry?”
Still looking down, I say, “Forgetting you.” He stops and lifts my head up. He has a soft look in his eyes. “No, no. That’s not your fault. Don’t be sorry.”
I can feel my cheeks redden. I don’t understand why this is happening to me. Maybe just because he’s being so nice and caring. I don’t know. Earlier I was fine not knowing the man, and now…well I don’t know what’s going on. I guess he knows I’m not going to say anything now, so he turns around and starts walking again. But I do notice that he isn’t holding my hand anymore. I guess he trusts that I won’t run away again. I’m not sure why, but I reach forward and grab his hand anyway. He doesn’t even look back, just gently holds my hand too.
I’m starting to wonder how long we’ve been walking out here. Somehow, I don’t think my mind has drifted off for a while, which is an odd thing for me. But that also isn’t very good. If my mind were somewhere else, time would be going faster. I don’t know how, but it just seems that way. So now, I feel like we’ve been out here forever. Through the trees, I can already see that the sky is getting darker. I hope that we will be out of here soon. I am startled from my thoughts when the man speaks again. “You know, it’s kind of weird that you ran into these woods.”
I am confused by his words. “And why is that?” He suddenly gets this odd look on his face and says, “It’s actually kind of a long story. And confusing. Maybe another time.” I’m even more confused when he says that, but I just stay quiet and keep walking.
When I’m starting to wonder how long these woods can really go on, I see some light up ahead. I tug on the man’s arm and point to the light. “Look.” He looks up to see the light and slightly smiles as he says, “Yeah, that’s home.”
Home. I don’t really remember it. But then again, I’ve realized I don’t remember a lot. I wonder why that is. “Hey, how come I forget a lot?” The same sad look comes across his face, “It’s another long story. Sorry.” I look down, “Oh…” He looks at me suddenly and says, “But someday maybe you’ll remember everything. I have hope for you.” I try to smile a little, “Thanks.”
We continue to walk and are almost to the clearing where the light is, when all of a sudden I see cars and people. They’re everywhere. I can see flashing lights and ambulances. And then I see me. I’m not even conscious. I don’t know what’s going on. Then I gasp and I’m walking back in the woods with the man. He glances back at me then a concerned look goes across his face. “What’s wrong?” I lift my hand up and feel tears sliding down my cheeks. “I saw myself. And people and cars all around. I was unconscious. And hurt.” He whispers something to himself. “What?”
“A memory,” he says. “One of your memories.” I must look very confused, for he explains some more. “You were in a very bad accident a while back. You were unconscious for a while, but then, when you woke up, you didn’t remember anything. And then, from time to time, you’ll be fine, then you just forget what was going on. That’s why you don’t think you know me. And that’s why I think that was one of your memories coming back. It’s been known to happen.”
I look down, not knowing what to say. This is a lot to take in at one time. Suddenly I just feel like I want to get home and sleep in my own bed.
Even when I don’t remember much, I can always know there’s a place to call home. I tell the man--no, I tell my love this--and we both walk, hand-in-hand, back home.





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