Too Late?

She lost herself in the dancing flicker of the candlelight, her mind reaching back to a time when everything was right in her life. A smile slowly curved her lips. “Remember the bonfire at Blake’s house?” It was a tradition started by a classmate’s family – a bonfire the night before homecoming, part of a huge party for the entire community. Her smile faded as memories of the bonfire led to memories of the next night.

“Everything changed after that, didn’t it?” He seemed as mesmerized by the fire as she was. “I wish…if I could go back…” He shook his head. He didn’t need to continue. Neither of them needed words to share the guilt of that terrible night – the crash, the flames, the fear, the things that could never be undone.

“Standing there, that night by the fire, with you…that was the last time I really felt safe.” She pulled the worn quilt closer around her shoulders.

“You’re still safe. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”

“What are you going to do? There are people out there with guns and who knows what else, and they’re coming for us.” She shook her head. “They already have Faith. It’s just a matter of time until they catch up to us too.”

“We’ll keep running.” He edged closer to the small bit of warmth the candles provided. “We’ll find our way back. We’re just a few hours hike from a town – we can make it.

“That’s what we thought that night…that we could make it. That didn’t turn out so well, did it?”

They sat in silence for a long time. He struggled with questions he wasn’t sure he should ask, questions he’d kept inside so long. Finally, he broke the silence. “Do you ever think about us, wonder if maybe…if we had the chance, if we could try again?” He watched her, desperately hoping to see the same feelings struggling across her face.

“Whatever we had died the night of the accident.” She shook her head.

“Then why are you still wearing the ring?”

She knew exactly what he was talking about, but she couldn’t answer. She reached for the ring, hanging from a slender chain around her neck, fingering it as she had so many times through the years. She knew the answer, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. “We were kids,” she whispered, her voice choked with emotion. But she wanted to cry out, to tell him that she’d waited all through college, thinking every day that he would call or visit or do something, anything, to let her know they could still be together. Instead, he had stayed silent, and she had given up, lost in a sea of guilt and pain. A hot tear slipped down her cheek.

“I’m so sorry, for everything,” he whispered. “Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe we can still have a second chance.”

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