He cried. Our bodies pressed together in a Godly embrace, arms wrapped around one another, and tears filling each others shoulders. He felt the same. Strong, warm, gentle. All the things I fell in love with and so much more. The time spent away from each other made the love intensify, bursting through every pore in our bodies and making my stomach turn into a ball of joy.
“I- I missed you.” I said through tears and broken gasps.
He grabbed my face, his calloused hands were rough against my soft cheeks, as he tilted my glance towards his and locked eyes with me. They were bloodshot, red, and glazed over from crying, but something felt cold. The sparkle from before, dulled by the struggles of battle. I watched as the corners of his lips curled and quivered into a twisted and forced smile.
“I thought I would never -” He paused for a moment and swallowed hard, breathing in and releasing it painfully, “I thought that I would never see you again.” He finished, his voice cracked in pain. I pulled him in closer.
“Let’s go home.” I reached down and picked up one of his many bags and started towards the car, him and the rest of his things following close behind.
We watched the sun fall below the mountains on the road ahead of us. The ride home was silent. Nothing felt worthy of talking about. After being gone for so long, what was there to say to him? He reached across the center console of the car and took my hand in his, rubbing his thumb across mine.
Nothing needed to be said. We had each other again, and that was plenty.
That night, the bed wasn’t so empty anymore. It had felt like forever since I had a warm body to cling to in my sleep. Skin pressing against skin. Tonight I wasn’t lonely and I wouldn’t have to be ever again. His breathing was heavy and staggered as if he was struggling to inhale any sort of air into his lungs. I felt his chest move up in down in unison with his uncomfortable breathing, tightening slightly with every breath. I placed my hand on his face, hoping he would feel a sense of home in my touch and calm his breathing.
His body trembled as my fingers laid to rest on his cheek.
“NO! D-DON’T..” His voice penetrated his sleep and ripped a hole in the silence of the room. I grabbed his shoulders and tried shaking him awake.
“Honey?” I said gently, careful not to startle him back into reality. “Listen to my voice. You are safe.”
His hand shot out and wrapped itself tightly around my forearm, his rough skin like sandpaper against my own. I was afraid.
“Wake up. Wake up, please. WAKE UP!” His face pulled close to mine, hot breath burning my cheeks and making my eyes water. Or were those tears of fear? “You’ll never hurt us again.” A whisper came from his lips. His voice was filled with a pain I could never wrap my head around. My arm began to throb where his fingers were locked tightly, his grip beginning to tighten.
“I’m sorry.” realizing there was no way for this to end without waking him up. My shouting just wasn’t working, I reached my hand in the air and swung, hurting myself more than I hurt him. His eyes spring open in a flash of pain and sadness.
“W-What happened?” He released my arm in a mist of confusion, revealing a large bruise. I knew he didn’t mean it, but the throbbing sensation hurt, bringing tears to my eyes.
“Are you okay?” I looked at him, trying with everything in me not to cry.
“I hurt you.” The pitch in his voice raised, I could see the worry in his face. “I had a bad dream. I’m sorry. I would never. Oh my God.” He raised his hands to his face and sobbed. I was sad for him. I hurt with him.
“It’s okay dear. These are things we will get through. What was the dreams about?” I shouldn’t have asked. His sobbed harder. “I can’t talk about it. It hurts too much. I can see it. All of it.” I cocked my head to the side like a confused dog.
“See what?” I asked him.
“The bullets. I can hear them. The death and suffering on both sides. The buildings once full of families, crushed and gone, the families inside along with them. It is all so vivid.” He sobbed hard, his chest tighter than before and eyes puffy and red from the tears.
I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to fall back asleep at his side. What if he hurt me again? What if it is worse next time? We had to find some way to help him or we were never going to be able to be okay together. “You need to rest.”
I took his hands in mine and put them to my cheeks. “I am here.”
We laid back down as he began to calm down and fall back asleep, my eyes wide open the rest of the night, afraid he might grab for me again, but laying close to his chest to make sure he knew where he was and that he shouldn’t be afraid. He never had to be afraid with me.