I let a deep sigh rumble its way up and out of my mouth, my exhausted body heartily agreeing with it.
I turned and looked out the single window of the small motel room. Silver moonlight brilliantly covered the world outside, seeming to coat everything in a layer of white light like snow, reminding me of many such nights I had already spent lying awake in the early morning hours.
The silver light of the big full moon above shone into the window by which I sat, covering me and part of the small room I was in its luminous glow. Even in the slightly chilled room I felt a sort of comfort and power in the silver glow. It fueled me in a way. Filled me up with some energy I desperately needed.
The only sounds in the room were the buzzing of the air conditioning unit next to me, the light hum of the digital clock next to the bed in the center of the small room, and the gentle, light snoring coming from the bed.
I followed the sound of snoring and looked back at Abigail; who slept looking more peaceful than she had in a week. The silver moonlight reached over to the bed and reflected white off of her pale skin. He long brown hair fell in gentle waves behind her and over her shoulder; covering her arm that lay spread out across the empty half of the bed. I could tell that behind her closed eyelids her brilliant blue eyes were shining in joy as she dreamed of something peaceful and good for the first time in over a week.
I felt terrible for having been the cause of her recent nightmares and I hated that I could do nothing to help.
As I looked at Abby’s gentle face the same thought occurred to me that had been repeating over and over in my head for the past week.
Good lord she is beautiful.
I immediately chastised myself for letting such thoughts slip through my mind.
Don’t let yourself get attached to this girl. You know that can’t end well.
I knew that I had to get her home and then leave before I got her and her family into any more trouble than they were already in. I knew what was coming for me. I would not take anyone else to the grave with me when I went.
My gaze absentmindedly turned to the piece of newspaper that lay out on the table next to me. I could hardly stand to look at the crinkled and partially ripped piece of paper. I had stolen it off of a park bench two days ago when an old man had stood up to go talk to his grandchildren a little ways away. The piece of paper looked a little ratty after having been in my pocket for two days, but it didn’t matter. I had already memorized every word in the article I had taken it for.
That stupid piece of paper on the table held on it each and every name, along with a picture of everyone who had died on that plane. Everyone who was now dead, because of me. Every single name on that piece of paper was a weight in my chest.
I should’ve stayed.
I should’ve done more.
At least I could’ve…
I grabbed the piece of paper and stuffed it back in my black hoodie’s side pocket.
Stop. You did everything you could.
I knew it was a lie, but I wanted desperately to believe I had.
I hadn’t told Abigail about the article yet. For now, it was my burden to bear. She didn’t need anything else to worry about. She only had to worry about getting home.
I would get her home. We only had a few states left to cross before we would get to Pennsylvania, where her aunt lived, and from there it was simply a three hour drive to her house in New York.
I looked back to her gentle sleeping face.
I will get you home. I silently promised.
After a few seconds I forced myself to turn and look back out the window. I looked up at the large silver moon that hung full and bright in the dark night sky.
Oh God… I could think of nothing to say. Just help me... I can’t do this without you… I prayed silently. My prayer sounded more like begging to me, which I knew it was. I needed help. And I had no one else to turn to.
Unsurprisingly I felt no change, or even the slightest notion that God had heard my desperate prayer. Though, it never seemed like he did.
One of these days, God, you and I are going to have a serious talk about how these things work. You hear me? I laughed at my own pathetic attempt at humor. ‘One of these days’ would likely come much sooner than I hoped.
I watched the moon begin its downward path in the night sky and stood to my feet. I could tell it was about 3:30 am and we needed to get moving. I double checked the backpacks to make sure they were ready for today’s travels and silently returned to the bed, taking a seat beside Abigail’s sleeping form.
Looking down at her peacefully resting I felt extremely guilty.
I did this… It was my fault that she was here, rather than at home living a normal life like all of her friends. It was my fault that she was having nightmares. It was my fault that her life got completely flipped upside-down.
I would find a way to set things right. I would. I had to. Or I would die trying.
Of course, I already knew I would die. That was no question in my mind. I knew I was as good as dead. And I accepted that.
I found a kind of solace in the thought that I’d be dead soon. It’s better that way, I solemnly thought, Your job will be done, and there will be no one left to hurt. Yes, I accepted my death.
But first, I had to make sure that Abigail was safe.
I sighed and gently placed my hand on her shoulder. I shook her lightly as I whispered for her to wake up.
“Abs. Abby,” I whispered as she began to wake, “It’s time Abby. We have to go. It’s time to move.”
I could feel her waking up as she rolled over and looked up at me with her sparkling deep blue eyes that seemed to be dragging me in. I had to fight not to get lost in her magnificent blue eyes.
Good lord, she is beautiful. I mentally slapped myself for the comment. I needed to keep her safe, and thoughts like that certainly weren’t going to help.
Completely oblivious to the battle raging in my head, Abby smiled up at me with her white, slightly crooked smile that I found extremely hard not to smile back at.
I finally conceded and let a smile break through, a little laugh coming with it.
“Come on,” I said, another small laugh slipping its way through, “We’ve got to get moving. Lot of ground to cover today.”