Disclaimer One:  Blah, blah, blah.  Universal and Renpics own the rights to XWP.  I'm just using their likeness.  So, don't sue me, I really don't have any money.

Disclaimer Two:   This is the conclusion to the Heaven and Hell series.  Please read Heaven Can Wait first or you won't know what the hell is going on.  It's meant only to give you a look inside these characters as well as a look inside yourself.  What would you do?  How would you act?  Would you stay?  Honestly?  There is some use of foul language, but not much.  Angst, yeah we all have to endure a little pain.  It makes the happiness more appreciated.

Dedication:  To God for blessing me, and to the Mindom for putting up with me and my sensitive self.

Hell is Here



Copyright (c) 2002

A couple of days later . . .

I jerk awake acutely aware of the pain wracking my body.  The cold sweat that covers me is a testament to my physical anquish but also the nightmare that visited me--the wreck. The sound of twisting metal, shattering windows, unbearable pain, and blood are flashes of smell, sounds, and pictures.  It's true your life does flash before your eyes the second you see death staring you in the face.  The funny thing is  I didn't see my mom.  I didn't see my childhood.  I saw Nica live and in color.  The notion that I wouldn't see her face, feel her touch, hear her laugh again was agony.  It couldn't compare to the damage to my body.  Love is  strange that way.

I close my eyes and swallow, feeling the dryness in my throat.  The pre-dawn darkness surrounds me along with the noise of bleeping machines that serve as a constant reminder of my predicament.  At least I don't have the tubes down my nose anymore. Turning my head slightly, I see light teeming in from under my closed door, and from somewhere far away, I hear footsteps, beeps, and whispers.  The coarse bedding rustles as I manuver my torso and expose my arms to the coolness of the room. Someone had me tucked in all the way to my neck. With a trembling bandaged hand, I slowly reach for the button to call the nurse.  This hurting has to stop.  Right now, I think that drugs are the most wonderful of inventions besides the English language.  They will take away the physical distress, leaving me only what I'm familiar with, the pain in my heart and soul.

I glance sideways as the door to my room is pushed open softly.  The blond nurse is illuminated by the light at her back. I squint, but I am able to see her smile and pink scrubs.  She's a very beautiful woman.  I'm guessing, it's the type Nica would probably go for.  Just that thought alone brings tears to my eyes and an agonizing clench to my heart and belly, but I can't deal with this yet not until the nurse gives me what I need. 

"How are you doing Ms. James?"

It's really the stupidest question that I've ever heard.  I'm lying here.  I can't feel my legs, my torso is on fire, and it looks like I've been pistol whipped.  Why does she think I buzzed her?  To talk about the weather?  "I'm fine,"  I answer anyway.  My words are scratchy and hoarse.

"You probably need something for the pain, huh?  Let's get you some shaved ice too."

She translated my words well.  I wonder what actually asking for these things will get me?  But, I digress and watch as she shoots the pain killer into my IV.  She finishes her job in silence, and I watch her leave as my knotted muscles relax.  I am in the dark again.  That is a metaphor if I've ever heard one, but it is an inaccurate one.  For the past six years, I've been standing in the light with my eyes wide open.  Love is indeed a funny thing.  I have to say it again.  If my eyes were open, why did I stay?  Why am I laying here wishing Nica was beside me?  It's because of love.  It sounds simple, but it isn't.  Not at all.  It takes unbelievable courage to love someone completely, totally--to love so deeply that you endure anything.  The sad thing is that I don't know any other way to love. There is no half way. Everything I am is invested in her. Everyone has one great love in their life. Nica is mine.

I'm not some weak sniveling thing with low self-esteem and a martyr complex. I'm a strong, intelligent and confident woman and words are my passion. Ever since my mother started reading me bedtime stories at age 6, I've been enraptured by their power. I am in no way naive, and I think anyone who knows me would agree. My family circle may not be huge, but one has to be selective these days and that selectivity in no way keeps me from my dream--to teach college. I want to see the wonder on the kids' faces just like it was on mine. In a nutshell, I am just a woman with the life that I've always wanted-- family, friends, a career I love, someone to love and love me in return. Yes, Nica loves me. I see it burning in her eyes, her touch, and her words. It breaths around us like another entity all together, especially when we make love. The truth of the matter is that she has her addictions and so do I. I'm just not sure what mine are---love or her. Conceivably, it could be both, and I freely admit this. What does it make me? Pathetic? No, I think it just makes me pathetically human. It's an imperfect world with so much darkness, hate, and despair, but I've found my light, my reason when so many have neither.

When me and Nica first started dating, I felt something click inside me as if everything moved into place. We fit--one piece smooth the other rough. I know it sounds corny, but I think it was meant to be. The world opened up for me. I could see it shining in her eyes, and I went for it. I still am. Words are my trade, and I'm fulfilling my dream. For better or for worse, Nica is part of that along with the nice house, large yard and the dog, a bull terrier named, Rosco. Then and now, she makes me feel like every woman should--cherished, needed, wanted, desired and love. I'm the only one who holds her heart, and that has come to mean a lot to me over the years. I can remember the exact moment in time when I knew she loved me. We had been together about four months. I could see it in her eyes and written all over her face. She didn't have to say the words, but she did.


The bookstore was bistro like in atmosphere. It was summer, and the windows and doors were open to let in fresh air and moonlight. The checkered table cloths that covered the tiny, round tables blew in the slight breeze. The smell of fresh flowers and bake goods filled the room with a heady aroma. I took it all in and discarded it for something greater, Nica.

We took a table near the middle, giving us a good view of the small stage that was adorned with a mic and a wooden stool. Our knees touched under the table, wrapping me further in her warmth. Nica wouldn't let my hand or my gaze go. It felt as though we were the only ones present. The heat from her gaze warmed me from the inside out. We couldn't get close enough to each other. I don't even think being in her skin would have been enough for me. Her hands seemed to be everywhere, touching my face, my arm, my hand, and my neck. I leaned into each caress as if I were a starving woman, and the look in her eyes made me hungrier. I loved her desperately even then.

I had always been a confident woman, but with Nica on my arm, I was invincible. I felt the eyes on us when we entered, and I was aware of them boring into our backs as we sat at our table. They wanted this feeling, but it was mine and mine alone.

From the side of my eye, I could see the waitress figeting hesitantly. Finally, she opened her mouth to speak. "Wha--"

"Two latte's with skim milk," I husked without even turning around. Nica smirked and a patented eyebrow raised. I leaned forward enough for our torso's to touch. "Did you want something else?" My gaze dropped to her red lips, waiting for them to move. She was the most sensual creature I had laid eyes on. Every move, every nuance seemed to cause me goosebumps.

"No, just you."

My heart stopped beating then and started up triple time. It was a simple statement; a cliche statement; a chessy one even. But, she meant it. I was sure it was a line she had used on many women, but something told me that it wasn't. Something told me that she didn't use a line at all. These women knew the score. Still, I sat here, and I knew I was different. It was the all encompassing feeling that started from my belly and worked its way up. Forgetting the small crowd around us, I was compelled to act on these feelings and the moment. Without another thought, I wound a hand through Nica's hair and pulled her to me. Our lips met softly at first almost reverently before a whimper from the back of her throat signaled the release of passion. I got lost in her mouth, teeth, and tongue, and I didn't want to return even when the M.C came to the stage.

Through the pleasant buzzing in my ears, from far away I heard the screech of the microphone. "Whoa! This is open mic night folks, and here is our entertainment!"

I tried to jerk away at the sound of laughter and clapping, but Nica cupped a hand around my cheek, stopping me. "No, forget them. They don't know what this is," she uttered hoarsely, trying to regain the ability to breathe.

I let out a whimper of embarassment, but still, I could not look away. "Wha. . .what is this?" I watched as her mouth curled to the left in a mysterious smile. Hope clawed at my stomach, making it burn with a special kind of fire. I waited for her to speak, but her smile got bigger. Then, slowly she leaned in caressing my lips with the most gentle kiss.

"Okay, folks," the M.C interrupted. "The mic is all yours tonight."

Before I knew it, Nica stood up and bellowed, "I'm first!" She shot me another irresistable grin and walked cockily toward the stage.

There were several murmurs, and I could feel the eyes return if they had indeed ever left. My brow wrinkled in confusion and my heart throbbed in anticipation. To wet my suddenly dry throat, I reached for the huge latte cup that seemed to just materialize in front of me.

Nica stood tall on the stage on typical jean encased legs that seemed to go on forever. The spotlight, illuminating her dark features made her into quintessential moody, sensual poet. With a toss of her head, dark tresses settled over her shoulder. She leaned into the mic, but kept her eyes trained on me.

"This is something I never felt," Her voice was smoky, deep. The sound of it sent a tingle through my body. "This is something I thought I'd never have." Her eyes brightened to a blue so brilliant that the color seemed to be escaping. Through them poured her feelings. I saw the need. I saw the desire, and I saw the love. Every word whispered made my heart beat faster. I could feel it in my chest and in my temples. I tried to take a deep breath only to find that it had deserted me. So, I sat there with feeling bursting inside me washing away my senses to focus them on the woman who stood before me. She glowed, and it was all for me.

"This is something I didn't think I deserved. This is something I longed for. This is everything. This is me loving you." Her voice trailed off, and my world began to spin around me. It righted itself when I felt her touch. Her arms wrapped around me from behind, and I moist breath greeted my ear. "Was that . . .okay?" She asked hesitantly if not a bit shyly.

Chessy, cliche, and simple, but it rocked me to the core. I fell deeper, and through my eyes, my kiss, and my touch, I let her know it.


I can't help but smile. Nica has never been a poet. She is in fact a woman of few words, but when she speaks, the most memorable, beautiful things spill out. She pretty much made a fool out of herself for me--for me. She still looks at me that way, and now that I think about it, that wasn't Nica's scene. She liked to hang out with friends at the Union, the mall, and the bowling alley, but that was for me. She would do anything for me even now, except stop cheating. An icy fire smolders from the inside, sending shards of almost physical pain to jangle along my nerves. I close my eyes and try to get a handle of my suddenly shallow breathing. This ache is much more acute, much more damaging and piercing. I shake with it, and I feel like screaming. It comes out as a whimper instead. It's my own personal hell. I've visited many times. More than I care to name. That first time it felt like someone had ripped my heart out with a red hot poker, leaving a huge gaping, bloody hole in my chest where everything used to be.

Nica has tried to hide it from me, but I see. I see perfectly. At first, I would sit at home and wait for her because surely seeing my pain would curb her appetite. It didn't. I stopped waiting up, but almost every time I cried silently when she slithered into bed and tightly wrapped herself around me. Oh, it still hurt. It hurt something awful, but somehow I survived it. Somehow, I went on, and somehow, I continue loving her despite my waning trust. Some women would have gotten even by flaunting their own affairs but that's not me. I don't think it ever crossed my mind.

Cindy has begged me to leave. She's seen me fall apart and put myself back together and stayed by my side the whole time. Nica was there too, but I think she saw what she wanted to see. Cindy's family, my family know nothing of Nica's transgressions. They only see my misery. Why don't I leave? In reality, the pain I encounter at the thought of being without her feels like death. Again, does that make me needy or co-dependent? Maybe I enable a bit. Maybe if I had let her know how I was feeling. Maybe, maybe, maybe, but maybe again it was just me being human. I can't fall out of love because I'm in pain. It doesn't work like that. If it did, I would have been gone long ago. As my mind goes into a narcotic haze, all I'm saying and thinking sound like excuses and contradictions. On one hand, they are, and on the other, they are stone cold reality.

My mother raised me to believe that love was a wonderful thing that it should be preserved, nurtured, and fought for. Even though my father left us, she still believed in love. I think it was the best lesson I ever learned. It was reinforced when I moved in with Cindy. I not only felt like their daughter in their eyes I am. The world nowadays is a piece of shit surrounded by water, and as long as I feel what I feel for Nica and my family, I'm gonna stay afloat. I take these lessons with me when I visit my Hell. That being said, I wanted to hate Nica. I even tried to, but it was all futile.

I laid in bed with the covers nearly covering my head, but there was enough room for me too peak out at the clock on the nightstand. 3 a.m. I was in bed alone for the third time since the beginning of our relationship. Anger boiled inside me along with a sickening since of dread. My mind wandered. What if she had an accident? What if she is unable to contact me? What if---

After a few minutes, common sense returned. It was a lie, and I was trying to make myself believe it. When she told me, "I'm hanging with friends tonight." I saw it a mile away for what it was. Still, I said nothing. I didn't know who I was more upset with--myself for almost falling into that role or Nica. Either way, my stomach churned with fury. I doubted my sanity for staying in this situation, and I doubted hers for puting me there. How could I love a person like that? How could that person profess to love me?

At that moment, I almost hated her for making me love her; for making me doubt her; for making me hate her. My body strained against the feelings coursing through me. Every muscle was clenched and trembling as if I were an animal waiting to pounce. 'I won't let her touch me,' I told myself. 'I won't let her near me.' And as if my thoughts could conjure up the devil himself, I heard the front door creek open.

I willed my heart to stop thumping erratically, but it refused so did my lungs. I ended up almost panting as I heard footsteps get closer. 'Stay strong.' Then she was there. I could feel her heat, smell her freshly showered scent from the otherside of the bed. The wisk and rustle of clothing was driving me mad. I could tell by the sound what she was doing. There was a thump as she removed her shoes, and a metallic sound as her zipper lowered. Then, a muffled rustle as jeans fell to the floor followed by what sounded like a sniffle. I had to school myself not to make a sound when she lifted the covers. I was as still as a rock when her warmth engulfed me.

That is, until I felt her trembling. There were several more sniffles as she pulled me into her. Still, I tried to hold on. I gritted my teeth in an attempt to ignore the perfect fit. Then, I felt it even more--the quivering. It seemed almost uncontrollable. My senses returned to me and I started to hear other things. Nica's breathing was broken as if she were sobbing. Against my will, concern got the better of me.


She stiffened then buried her face in the back of my neck. I could feel the tears. "Nica?" I asked worriedly.

"Shhhh, j--just let me. . .hold you." Her stutter was muffled, but I could still hear it.

I pressed on. I knew what she had done, but I had never seen her like this before. It was scary and somewhat relieving. "Nica, baby what's wrong?" I was sure she could hear the alarm in my voice.

Her embrace intensified, almost knocking the breath out of me. "I-I love you so damned much--so much," she whispered.

Oh God. I didn't want to feel it, but I did anyway. I turned over, bundled her in my arms and cried with her.

As if by some sixth sense, I knew the nights she was actually out from the nights she was buried between someone else's legs. If I didn't, she supplied me with huge clues every time. Almost every time, she cried, and it cut through me like the sharpest of knives, revealing feelings I tried to bury. Each time I forgave her as hard as it was. I forgave her because she couldn't forgive herself. We were one in our pain. As strange as that may sound, it is true. As much as we hurt, the love was still there.

As I'm laying here wondering about my fate, I remember when we last talked. Nica made me a promise. She will take care of me. I could see the truth of that when I have seen so many lies. She wants to get help. What did I see? I saw an attempt to try. This scared her. I scared her. I should be angry that I'm the one incapacitated after all I've been through. Fate is very fickle. If this were a Greek play, Nica would be the one suffering for her sins, but this is real life. Maybe it's because I'm the strong one. I don't know, but I do know is that I have to walk again. The possibility of not being able to takes me to a place so dark and lonely that I wonder if I could escape it. It's the kind of dark that would blind me from my dreams and from the light. The doctor's are hopefull because the swelling is almost down. A couple more days they say. I can't even stand to think about it, so I won't. One agony at a time, remember? This hell that Nica has helped to create is a place I don't want to visit anymore, but I've said that before.

I hope Nica's attempt will be a valiant one, and I must say it leaves me to wonder if there's a cure for my addiction. That is the big question. This time, I think Nica has gotten a peak into my pain-- into my Hell. We're both there together, and to make it the last trip we need to walk not crawl out hand in hand. I think it best for us to search for a cure for us both. That may be the only way. I won't leave her, but I'm tired of hurting. I just want the love. The sun is coming up, but I can barely keep my eyes open. So, I don't. I'm tired of thinking and analyzing.


Consciousness beckons me slowly. My senses are fuzzy, but I am aware of a teasing touch tracing my right hand. With a twitch of my fingers, I try to shew it away, but it continues. Opening my eyes a little more, I see the mid-morning light shining in through the raised blinds. I peer at them in confusion because I certainly did not raise them. Disregarding my puzzlement, I take a breath as deep as my body will allow, and I take in a familiar scent. My eyes widen, and my head jerks involuntarily toward the person I knew was sitting there. Nica is sitting in the chair beside my bed. I cannot stop the sudden flush to my cheeks or the pounding of my heart. I don't want to actually. Baby blue eyes are trained on me intently. I see myself shining in them, and it's not the first time.

She is make up free and looks haggard, tired. Dark smudges cover the bags under her eyes, and it looks like she didn't even bother to brush her hair, leaving me to believe she had used her hands to train the tresses. I long to run my hands through them too just as I have many times before. I miss the little sounds she'd make. She has on a ratty, frayed purple and gray ISU t-shirt--the one I've tried to throw away and probably some jeans. Still, she is the most striking woman.

Her eyes devour me like that have a tendency to do on occasion, but this time it is different. Each glance seems to be an attempt to memorize me. I see the sadness and the pain waring for dominance over her features. It looks like they have both won. I look away for only a second to see her fingers tracing my bandaged hand reverently. It's one of the only parts that don't hurt. But, I can't stay away for long. I am as drawn to her as she is to me. I never want her to stop touching me.

"Hey," I clear my throat to get the sleep out of it. "Was thinking about you not too long ago."

A dark brow raises. "I haven't stopped thinking about you. If they had let me, I would have spending my nights here."

"Maybe then you'd get some sleep, huh?"

Nica snorts. "Fat chance of that. I still look like shit, huh?"

"Of the old dried up variety. I worry about you."

In a milisecond, her eyes go from amused to somber. "How can you be worried about me when you have so much to tackle?"

I don't shrug because I know it will probably hurt. "I can't help myself."

"I can't either," Nica husks.

I close my eyes as the sharp shards of glass reek havoc on my insides. I hear her intake of breath, and I can't help but return my gaze to her. Her eyes are wide and full of sorrow and fear.

"I-I'm sorry. I meant that I can't help loving you."

I won't let her off the hook this time. It's been eons since we have discussed her infidelity. Now is as good a time as any. "I know what you meant," I whisper. "And I guess it can apply to both situations can't it?"

Her eyes lower and, I can feel her withdrawal. It's like a coldness seeping over me when there was heat before. She starts to stand up. It angers me becuse she knows we have to do this. I wish I could reach out to her, grasp her arm, or something. But, I only have my voice, my love, and my soul pouring through my eyes. "Don't you dare, dammit!"

Her breathing has quickened and become audible. Trembling hands push their way through midnight. Her back is to me. "Sand--"

"No! You will look at me. Was everything you told me the other day a lie? We can't get through this without talking about it--not anymore!" I'm almost yelling now, and it tweaks my stitches. I have to ignore it.

The statement must get her attention because Nica turns around. Her beautiful features are contorted as if she is in agony. Her hands are balled into fists and she is shaking them in the air. "Don't you understand? I don't want to hurt you anymore."

I capture her gaze with mine and whisper, "But you have, Nica. You have. There's no going back."

Nica's shoulders slump, and she moves back toward the bed. "I would, you know, if I could and change everything." She pauses, and I watch in fascination as her eyes tear up. "I love you so much that it hurts sometimes. I saw that I was hurting you, Sandy, but I didn't want to see. So, I didn't. Every time I did it, something tore in me, but I couldn't stop. Maybe deep down, I didn't want to."

I absorb all of this quietly as I try to remember how we got on this. The conversation we were having just a minute ago must have been quite the segue. What I am hearing from her now is more than she has ever said on the subject, and I realize suddenly that I did help this along by not saying a word, except for the first couple of times. Maybe some part of me was still in denial all that time. "Maybe, I didn't want you to see. I knew what was going on, but confronting more would have made it more of a reality," I murmur as she sits back down. God, I hate seeing her cry. It makes my chest ache.

"Why did you stay?" Her words are almost slurred as she tries to speak through the tears. She wipes at her face with the back of her hand. "If I had been strong enough I would have left. You're better off without me, but . . . I'm shit without you."

"Sometimes, Nica it hurt so much that I thought I was dying, and just the thought of being without you I knew would be killing myself from the inside out. I consider myself strong, but maybe I'm not as strong as I thought. I guess I wasn't strong enough to leave you or to hate you. I'm only strong enough to love you. I don't know how not to."

Nica shook her head and gazed at me with what seemed to be awe. "Then, you're the strongest person I've ever met because sometimes I can't love myself at all." Her voice trails off, then starts again abruptly. "Every time I came home I expect to see hate or find myself alone because something told me you knew. But, you were always there. I didn't deserve it."

I sigh. "No, I don't suppose you did because I didn't trust you then or now, but I just can't help the way I feel."

"You're such an unbelievable person. Do you know that? I couldn't help falling in love with you. You have my heart for what it's worth." Nica reaches for me again. I want to feel her touch, and I almost sigh as the warmth encases me.

"I know, and I think that's partly what kept me sane."

"Um, what's the other part?" She asked me hesitantly and sniffles as the last of the tears dry up.

"Cindy," I tell her.

I watch and feel her stiffen. "Uh, were you two. . ."

Anger flashes bright red obscuring my vision. Isn't this what they do? Assume that the other person is doing it too for some reason or another. Nica doesn't know me very well then and that is sad indeed. We have a long way to go. "I don't think you have the right to ask me that," I growl. I can't help myself. I'm only human after all.

A flush covers her face, and her eyes widen. "I-I guess I don't."

"Ask me anyway."

She doesn't hesitate. "Did you?"

"No." Her look is one of doubt, and it makes my anger boil even more.

"Maybe I-I should just leave. She's probably better for you anyway."

It explodes. "You don't have the right to decide for me! And there was never anything going on between me and Cindy!" I kick my leg out in exasperation.

Suddenly, we lock gazes then stare at my supposedly paralyzed legs. For the moment, my anger deflates.

"Did you. . .?"

"Yeah," I answer.

"Can you do it again?"

"I don't know." We continue to peer at my useless appendages. With a grunt, I try to move both legs. They both twitch, and I laugh in surprised glee.

"Oh my God, I saw that!" Nica screams excitedly. "I'll go get the nurse---doctor or whatever."

She is out the door before I can say another world. I can't stop smiling and thinking that this is one obstacle out of the way. An obstacle that would have probably been my downfall. Now, I am totally free to concentrate on other matters. My smile falters. I see such a long bumpy road ahead. God, please help me.

About ten minutes later, Nica returns with the doctor. His face is full of concern. "Now, let's not get our hopes up, Ms. James. Let me try something first."

I feel Nica's eyes on me. They are snapping with excitement, but they somber as she sees my expression. I jump slightly as a sharp, cold instrument pokes at the sole of my feet. "Ow!"

"You felt that?" The doctor asks.


He chuckles. "That's a good sign." He raises the covers and trails the instrument up my legs, poking here and there.

"Ow, ow!"

"Sorry 'bout that." He stands up and smiles. "Well, everything seems to be in order. You're a lucky woman Ms. James. But, there will be some physical therapy."

I nod in understanding. I'm feeling unbelievably giddy.

"Let me check your incisions, and I'll leave you two alone."

After a few more minutes, he was gone, leaving us alone with yet another prescence, tension. Nica sits back down in the chair and looks up at me sheepishly. "Great news, huh?"

"Yeah, it is, but there are other things. . ." All of a sudden walking didn't seem that important.

"I know. I shouldn't have said that. I didn't mean it. I guess it was the self pity talking." Nica sighs. "Where do we go from here? I don't want to keep doing this. I want to be with you." Her eyes are imploring and true.

"You wanted to get help. Does that still stand?"

Nica nods vigorously. "Yeah, I want to. I'll do what I need to."

"Good, I guess we're part ways there then. We can look around. I'm sure there's somebody who counsels lesbian couples--"

Nica holds up a hand to interrupt. "Hold up. Did you just say we? Why would you need---"

"Because I need you, and," I pause. It shouldn't be that hard to say. I've said it in my head enough today. "I need help too." It comes out in a whisper, but it did not change the impact of the words.

Her mouth drops. "I don't understand?"

"We need to start over for this to work, Nica, and I don't think I can do that correctly without trust or all this pain circling me. I won't be silent about it--not anymore. We both need to go to come out of this together. Despite everything, I don't want to lose you."

"You either," she adds quietly. "Should we wait--"

"No, we'll find somebody and explain our situation. Maybe you could go until I'm able. Get a head start on things."

Nica blows out a breath, disturbing her bangs. "Okay, I can do that." She reaches out to take my hand again. I let her. "Together then?"

"As if there could be any other way." She raises my hand gently to her lips and places a kiss there. I can't hide the love I feel pouring through my eyes. I want to feel relief, but not yet. Not yet.

I hear several throats clear from the vicinity of the door. I look up to see the rest of my family standing before me. I glance at Cindy. Her eyes hold a question. I smile softly at her, but she only throws her hands up. Still, she grins back. Someday, she'll understand. Mom and Dad, as I call them, hastily move toward the bed. I feel kisses pressed against my forehead and hear hellos aimed toward Nica. This is where I've always wanted to be surrounded by love. Even though I've hit some potholes on the way, I'm here where I belong. Is that so hard to understand? Is that wrong to want? Deep down it's what we all crave, and both despite and because of the realities of today, we all fight to get and maintain it.

I know this was a little different, but I hope you got a glimpse into something deep. Let me know what you think at Minerva

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