Time seemed to stand still as we stood there together in the food-plastered kitchen. I hadn't pulled away when he kissed me just then. I didn’t really want to, and he knew it. Encouraged, he closed in once again, this time with more confidence. My mind spun, and everything around us seemed to fall away. It seemed as though for one, extremely long moment, Sam was not my kidnapper. He wasn’t dangerous, or mean, or scary. Instead, he was exactly the opposite. I closed my eyes and leaned into him, ignoring the little voice in my head and decidedly kissing him back. I felt my heart skip a beat as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me even closer.
I could hear the seconds pounding by in my head as he held me tight, kissing me passionately like I’d only ever seen in the movies. I was overwhelmed, trying to process what was happening yet it was all just too surreal. I suddenly got the feeling like I was in someone else’s body. The pounding in my head morphed into a high-pitched ring and I began to feel weak in the knees. I turned my head away, breaking our kiss, and clung on to him for support as though I might fall straight through the floor otherwise. He took my arms and held me back a little so he could see me better. I opened my eyes and tried to focus. The kitchen sink seemed so far away…
“Emma, arrre yoo-ou alrrighhtt?”
I blinked. The sounds were faint and dull, and I could barely understand them. I tried to look up at Sam. His face was blurry and everything around him was so dark...
“I’m… dizzy,” I mumbled stupidly not a moment before everything went black. I never felt myself hit the floor. I didn’t know what had happened. When I came to I felt very disoriented, noticing first and foremost that my head hurt tremendously. I frowned and looked around, realizing I was in the living room on the couch. A few moments later Sam came into view holding a blanket. He tucked it in around me and knelt down, smiling when he saw that I was conscious again. He stroked the side of my face affectionately and asked if I was okay.
I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that I didn’t feel good at all. I felt clammy and cold and confused. “What happened?” I asked weakly.
He shrugged. “The story of my life.”
My brow furrowed even more as I struggled to recall what exactly I had been doing moments before.
“Don’t worry, you just fainted,” he assured me.
I glanced back at the kitchen. “Oh. I’m sorry,” I whispered as my mind began to get back in gear.
He moved a strand of hair from my face. “It’s not your fault, you haven’t eaten and you’ve been working all day. I shouldn’t have pushed you so hard.”
I relaxed back onto the pillow I was laying on. “I think I’m just an emotional disaster,” I retorted exhaustedly, “my mind just can’t take any more of this.”
His face darkened suddenly as though he were annoyed by what I’d just said. “I’ll go get something for you to eat,” he said, the gentle tone in his voice gone.
He stood and made his way to the kitchen, returning a moment later with a box of plain, lightly salted crackers. “Eat and rest,” he said. “We’ll have our campfire tomorrow.”
I felt as though I should say something more, but nothing came to mind. I couldn’t believe I’d let him kiss me like that, and worse, that I’d kissed him back. It frightened me, the fact that I’d just allowed him past that barrier. He would never stop now, and he would never believe me when I said I didn’t want to be with him. I’d encouraged him once now, and I could only imagine what terrifying things that could lead to. I covered my face with my hands. What have I done, I thought miserably, then watched through my fingers as he went back into the kitchen and listened as he began cleaning up our mess.
It wasn’t long at all before I’d drifted off to sleep. I was completely exhausted. I woke just barely as Sam picked me up and carried me upstairs to my bed, tucking me in as though I were a child. I didn’t say anything. It gave me a good feeling, like how I used to feel when my mom would tuck me in at night all those years ago. Back when I was home, and safe, and free. I smiled at the memory and relished the feeling as I gently fell back into a deep, deep sleep. Then the nightmares came.
I was in a truck. Immediately I knew where I was. I looked to my left and saw Nathan behind the wheel, laughing. I tried to scream at him to stop, but I couldn’t get the words out properly. Then I tried to move, to stop him myself, but my body felt like a million pounds, my arms dragging like concrete. I cried, terrified of what was about to happen and the fact that I couldn’t stop it. I looked up and the light blinded me, and my ears rang with the exact same screeching sound that had etched itself into my brain in the worst moment of my life. I screamed in an attempt to drown out the sound, but it only seemed to get louder. I shut my eyes and willed myself to wake up.
The sound stopped, replaced by a deafening silence. I opened my eyes to see Nathan still beside me, his head smashed against the steering wheel, and his eyes gazing out at me lifelessly. My body went numb. I wanted nothing more than to run away from this nightmare. I fumbled for the door handle, desperately needing to escape, but there was something outside my window. A new wave of fear coursed through me. I looked up only to be face to face with a girl with no face. I screamed. She was terrifying, standing there an inch from the window, her face nothing but a blur.
“Emma.” I heard Nathan call my name. I whipped back around. His face was covered in blood. “Emma,” he said again, louder. And then I was being shaken. She’s trying to kill me! My mind reeled.
I jolted awake, still struggling to free myself.
“Emma, stop! It’s just a dream!” Sam said as he tried to hold me still.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
I sat up and threw my arms around him.
“I heard you screaming,” he said as he held my quivering body.
“It was horrible,” I mumbled against his shoulder.
“Shh, it’s okay. It’s just a nightmare Emma, it’s not real.”
I held onto him as tight as I could and shook my head ever so slightly. “It was real,” I whispered, sniffling between breaths. “Sam… I’m so sorry…”
A waterfall of warm salty tears ran down my face and soaked into his shirt. I felt him rest his cheek against the top of my head. “Shh, it’s okay,” he cooed again. And then he did something that I never in a million years would have expected; he started humming.
His voice was deep and smooth. I could feel the rich sounds vibrating through his body as he hummed to me a soothing melody. I was shocked, but in a good way. My body relaxed little by little, my arms gradually loosening around him. His voice was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I wanted it to go on forever. He held me for a long while before gently laying me back down, my hands sliding down his arms as he did. He placed my arms under the covers and then pulled them up snugly around my shoulders, all the while still lulling me to sleep with his hidden talent. I didn’t want him to leave me again, but I was asleep when he did.
The next morning I woke feeling unexpectedly rested. The events of the night before seemed almost like a dream in itself. I’d completely forgotten about my nightmare. It was the same one I’d had over and over in the months following the accident. It had been a long time, but here I was experiencing that horror again. I prayed that was the last time.
I quickly got ready and hurried downstairs. Sam was at the table once again drinking a cup of coffee. He looked up at me, almost surprised to see me up so early two days in a row.
“Hey,” I said as I sat down next to him.
He smiled. “Well good morning, would you like some coffee?”
“Sure but I can get it,” I said, hopping up even quicker than I’d sat down and started making my own cup.
“You never told me you could sing,” I mentioned coolly as I sat back down again.
He laughed. “I can’t really.”
I gave him a serious look. “What are you talking about? You sounded amazing to me.”
He shook his head. “Emma you were half asleep when I did that. Frankly, I’m surprised you even remember.”
“Anything beautiful enough to get that nightmare out of my mind is certainly worth remembering.”
He stared at me, apparently taken back by the fact that I’d just complemented him like that. I glanced down and stirred my coffee, suddenly feeling self-conscious about it.
“Well…” he cleared his throat, “I may have some skill but I’m certainly no musician or anything.”
I took a tentative sip of my drink, worried that I might burn myself. It was still too hot for me. I set my cup back down and wiped my lip before speaking again. “Do you play any instruments?”
His eyes drifted off. “No not really.”
“Not really? That doesn’t sound convincing.”
He sighed. “When I was little my mom would spend time teaching me to play the violin. She told me that her dad made my violin. He had crafted it just before he died, she said, and he’d intended to give it to me someday.” Sam smiled, remembering. “She always loved to hear me play, even if I wasn’t all that good. My grandpa though, he was a fantastic fiddler supposedly.”
“Do you still have it?”
He shrugged. “I haven’t seen it since she left. It’s probably in storage somewhere,” he ventured, “or else my dear old dad got rid of it.”
“That’s too bad,” I said, “I would have loved to hear you play.”
He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter anyways, I wouldn’t remember how anymore. That was a long time ago… A different lifetime.”
“Still, would be nice to have something passed down in your family, right?” I ventured.
He sat quiet for a second. “Yeah…”
I tapped my fingernail against my cup, trying to buck up enough courage to ask more about his past. “So…” I started finally, “Do you keep in touch with any of your family?” I asked timidly.
He stared up at me, as though I should already know the answer.
“I mean, do you have any siblings or anything?”
He shook his head. “No.”
I nodded and began tapping my finger again as the awkward silence dragged on. “I mean, you must have some family left,” I blurted, determined to find out more about him.
He looked at me carefully. “The truth is Emma, I don’t know and I don’t care. I don’t have any interest in making contact with any of them. Not anymore.”
“So there is someone at least?”
He nodded, taking a deep breath as he did. “I suppose my uncle is still out there somewhere.”
“Your uncle?” I prodded.
“Yeah, my moms brother. He used to take me out camping when I was a kid. He even taught me how to fish.”
“Well he sounds nice,” I said, hoping he would help carry on the conversation, but he didn’t. He just nodded and kept his thoughts to himself.
“Why don’t you see him anymore?” I asked, feeling as though I were poking at a balloon with a dull needle every time I asked a question.
He rubbed his face with his hands. This was obviously a tender topic. It made me wonder what kind of childhood he must have had.
“I haven’t seen him since she left,” he eventually answered.
We sat there quietly for a few moments. I watched as he secretly reflected on the past.
“Why not?” I asked again, quietly.
Sam stared up at me, as though deciding whether or not to tell me, or perhaps wondering why I was even asking.
“Sam,” I said softly, “it’s obvious you don’t really want to talk about your family, or your past, but I just… I think it’s important-”
“Important?” He echoed, beginning to sound annoyed. “Why?”
I swallowed. “Okay, maybe not important, per say… but, I still think it would be a good thing, you know, if you let me know you better.”
He scoffed. “Emma, you already know me better than anyone. I am who I am. My past has nothing to do with me now.”
“But it made you who you are,” I argued.
His eyes flashed. “Ah. I see. You want to know what happened, that made me into the monster I am today. Right?”
“That’s not what I meant…”
He started to speak again but I cut him off. “Sam, I’m asking you these questions because I want to know. That’s all. I just want to know more about you, and why not? You know everything there is to know about me, so why can’t I know you too?” I reached across the table and placed my hand over his. “Please?” I asked. “Just let me in…”
He shook his head. “Emma, you want me to tell you something that I think you already know.”
I just looked at him quizzically.
“My father was a horrible, horrible man,” he continued. “He tormented our family until everyone I ever cared about left.”
“And so they left you too?” I asked, before realizing how insensitive it sounded.
He pulled his hand away and got up from the table.
I let my own words sink in. I was right, I thought. His past had definitely affected him.
He went to the kitchen and leaned over the sink, setting his cup down carefully and gazed outside. “There was a time after my mom left, that I remember being in my room. By the window…” he spoke hazily, as though it had just been a strange dream. “My room was three stories up, so I could see the front gate over the trees. My uncle had come to see me one last time, but my father… he wouldn’t allow it. I watched as he shoved my uncle, yelled something at him, pointed him towards the road...” Sam paused for a moment. “I’ll never forget that next moment...”
“What happened?” I asked, not entirely sure I wanted to know.
“His eyes,” he answered. “Before he got back in his truck he looked up at my window, as though he knew I was watching. He took his hat off and just stood there for a moment. I didn’t want to believe it at the time, but I always knew it was his way of saying goodbye,” he paused for a moment and cleared his throat. “For a long time I kept telling myself he would come back for me. I dreamed that he would break down the front door one day like a superhero and carry me out of there. He would take me to my mom, and we would live up in the mountains by the lake, where we used to camp.”
Silence filled the room. For a second I thought Sam might be crying, but I couldn’t bring myself to look.
“But I always knew,” he continued, “deep down… he was never coming back.”
I didn’t know what to feel at that moment. He was opening up to me finally but I felt like I couldn’t comfort him at all. I was angry, actually. Angry with his father for apparently making his life hell, angry with his mother for abandoning him, and angry with his uncle for never bucking up the courage to save him. Those people, I thought, are the reason he’ll never let me go. The reason I’ll never get to see my family again.
I felt a tear roll down my cheek. For the rest of the day I kept wondering what kind of person Sam might have become, had any of the above not happened to him. I wondered if he still would have kidnapped me, or would he have grieved like a normal person instead? Maybe he wouldn’t have even met his wife, and she wouldn’t have been on the road that day maybe. She’d be alive and I’d be home. I sighed heavily and tried to stop myself from playing the “what if” game. It was pointless after all. As for Sam, he didn’t talk much for the rest of the day either. Maybe he was playing too, I thought.
a/n: I have no excuse for how long it's been. For those of you who have been waiting forever and have still managed to not shun my story forever, thank you!!!!!
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