Something like magnets drew my fingers to the cold wooden door, forming a fist as they ascended. I struck it with the impatience of rain when it’s ready to fall, at a near constant, muted patter.
“Asher!” I spat. For some reason, saying it, regardless of if he heard it, made me feel so much more at ease.
In no time at all, his feeble frame in all its sleepy clumsiness plopped down the steps. He revealed revelation in his tired eyes, rubbing them, as he caught my stare through the window, and I felt assured. There was some sort of connection between us. Something let him know he should go downstairs, though mid-night, and that something was definitely not the sound of my knocking.
“It’s going to be okay.” I told myself.
The door glided open and I caught his arm in a vice like grip. He flinched but did not pull away.
“Your bag is still packed, up in the closet.” I was barely whispering, but the words ran out of my mouth like they were afraid of one another.
Asher’s responding expression morphed so clearly like a monster in a bad dream from surprise to dead fear. I knew he would know what I was asking, we had discussed it before. But the panic in his breath asked me if I was crazy.
“They’re going to send me off if I don’t leave myself! You know that.”
Thudding in his chest was his only response. It wondered why I chose him.
“You’re not like them. And I don’t want to be like them, Asher!” desperation cracked through my voice when I said his name.
He grew colder as my words rattled around inside him, I was speaking ice cubes and he was an empty glass.
“I know it’s late and we did not plan this, but if not now, when?” He didn’t catch any of that, but his eyes still widened and filled with understanding. I’d never seen Asher cry.
“You have to come with me.” I was begging stone. I had to do something.
“I’ll get your bag, put on your shoes!” He was numbingly unresponsive.
And then the whole room went numb. A dreamy yellow surrounded us, and the fighting pulse of blood to Asher’s arm opened my grip. I felt my cheeks stain red and all my body stick with needles. My eye’s glare said, “it’s going to be okay,” but this time it was a question. He lowered his head, curled his back and hid his face. It was a no. It was always a no. Mrs. McKenzie stepped straight in between us then, and that was the end of that.