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Hearts Break In Silence
By Demeter


Cindy was in tears when she greeted me at the door. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I didn't know who else to call."

"It's okay," I assured her, as I pulled her into in an embrace before I kicked the door shut behind me. It was disturbing to see her like this... Unraveled. This couldn't be happening, not to my unshakeable friend. If I was honest, though, this didn't come out of the blue. We'd just assumed that Cindy was fine behind the easy smiles and the quick jokes, none of us had bothered to take a closer look. The last time I'd been this careless, Cindy nearly had been raped.

"How long have you been having these nightmares?" I was going on a hunch, and the moment she pulled back and gave me a resigned look, I knew I'd been right.

"A few weeks now." She shrugged. "I know it's silly. Nothing happened to me."

"It wasn't nothing." This probably wasn't the best moment to argue, but I had to say it.

"Okay, then. Still. It sucks." She slumped onto the sofa, leaning forward to cover her face. "You're the last person I wanted to draw into this, but... damn it." The tears started to fall again. I couldn't help thinking how young she looked. I went to sit beside her, placing my hand on her back, wondering why she felt that she couldn't talk to me about something this important. Another question sprang to mind. "Where's Rich?"

Cindy looked up at me with so much desolation in her gaze it was getting me scared. "Out of town with a friend over the weekend. I... didn't have the heart to ask him to stay."

"You should have. He loves you, Cindy." And so do I.

"I know," she sighed. "I just... I keep seeing the women, and thinking, that could have been me. If I feel like this, what must they..."

"Shh. Don't go there."

I ran my hand down her arm, took her hand and squeezed it lightly. "I haven't been much of a friend lately. I'm sorry. I'll do better, I promise."

Cindy didn't comment, but she didn't withdraw her hand either, just studied me intently as if to gauge the truth of my words. I intended to make good on that promise. It wasn't until then that I realized how close we sat, how close her face was to mine. Then she kissed me, very softly.

I probably should have reacted in any way, but I was startled into passivity, and there were plenty of reasons.

She finally pulled back with a sad smile. "Please, Linds, don't tell me you didn't see that coming."

I didn't, not really. That was because I had shoved the possiblity far away in my mind, needed forever to go through with my wedding after causing some unnecessary drama by crushing on my partner. Rich, who was now Cindy's fiancé.

"Cindy." I didn't know what to say, except that... I didn't stop to think. When she leaned in again, I kissed her back this time, ignoring everything that was wrong with this situation, because I wanted to. Because it felt right.

Reason kicked in soon enough.

"This is not happening, Cindy. I'm sorry." Wasn't it just like me to do that? Her face fell, and for a moment, I hated myself. However, what had she been thinking anyway? I was married. She would be. Even if all that hadn't been true, there was something else she didn't know yet. "I'm pregnant," I finally said. "I can't do this."

"Oh God." She pulled up her legs to her chest and wrapped her arms around her knees. "I'm such an idiot."

"Don't. You're not." So this was the way the story could have gone. If anything, we shared the blame, for not taking chances when they'd come up, years ago. That didn't mean we couldn't be friends anymore. I hoped. "I'll stay. If you want me to, that is." The reason I was here wasn't to explore any missed chances, it was because my best friend had called me at three AM because she needed me. I was determined to get at least something right. If I had to ignore how my lips tingled with the memory of the kiss, or my heartbeat couldn't seem to slow, then so be it.

"Thank you." The longing in her gaze was turning the knife, heartbeat after heartbeat as we held the dream between us for a sweet painful moment, and then let it go.

At least that's what I'd been telling myself. I spent the night next to her, at a safe distance, close enough for comfort. Cindy didn't have any more nightmares, but as I lay awake, I knew that both of us would be haunted forever with what could have been.

The End

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