My tears didn’t fall for long. Suck it up, Nikki! I scolded myself. You need to be strong. You will find your family and you will find a way to save them! Stop feeling sorry for yourself. What if someone sees you like this? I hated feeling weak. I never cried in front of people. Never.
“Nicole?” Zeke asked. His voice came from the floor next to me; it was still groggy from sleep. I was struck again at how nice he had been; insisting that I take his bed while he slept on the ground. “What are you doing up? It’s still dark out.” He yawned, emphasizing the statement. When he sat up and looked at me, he asked what was wrong. It was only then that I realized that I had pulled my knees to my chest and was now hugging them.
Zeke’s expression softened. “Nicole, tell me what’s wrong, please.”
My eyes welled up and I squeezed them shut and bit down on my lip, trying to keep the tears from spilling over.
“Are you scared or something?” Zeke asked. I knew that if I spoke, I wouldn’t be able to stop the waterworks. I shook my head.
Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t—
I couldn’t hold it in any longer; I felt so hopeless. I started sobbing and I hated myself for it. Zeke was going to think that I was just some scared little kid. Which, I guess, I kind of was. There was no way he would respect me after this.
“Shhh, shh, Nicole. Come on. Don’t cry. It’s okay…”
I felt movement on the bed and before I knew it, Zeke had his arms around me. I didn’t care about what he thought about me anymore. I needed someone to be with me right now. I turned into his hug and sobbed against his chest.
I cried for about an hour. The entire time, Zeke was silent. He just sat there with his arms around me, letting me ruin his shirt with my tears. He waited to make sure I was finished before he spoke.
“Nicole, why are you so upset?”
I sighed. “It’s kind of a stupid reason, actually. I just had a dream—well, it was more like a memory—of the big fight me and my boyfriend had before breaking up. I guess…I guess it just made me think…” I paused and breathed a shaky breath in. “Zeke? If I ask you something, you’ll tell me the truth, right?” I asked tentatively.
“Always,” he answered. He looked at me quizzically. “What’s up?”
“I…I’m never going to see them again…am I?”
Zeke sighed. “I’m sorry.”
I leaned my head against his chest. I wasn’t…sad really. I guess I had known all along. The hopelessness filled me once again, but this time, I didn’t cry.
I fell into a dreamless sleep just listening to the sound of Zeke’s breathing, his arms around me.