You Showed Me How to Love

Mollie Hervey

The rain pummels down on the roof. I am sitting alone on the porch listening to the cars splash across the slick road in the distance. The refreshing smell of the rainclouds relaxes me coupled with the amber bourbon in my glass.

My attention is drawn away from my surroundings when the front door opens and Zoe steps out.

“Hey, you,” she says.

“Hey,” I reply. She sits on the wooden porch swing next to me and leans her head on my shoulder. I let my arm rest behind her head.

“It took me nearly twenty minutes, but I finally got the kids to lie down for their nap,” she says. I chuckle mindlessly. Zoe has always been more hands-on when it comes to the kids than me.

“Are you feeling okay?” she asks after a moment.

“Mhmm.” She looks up at me, sensing a potential lie. I return her gaze. “No, really. I’m fine,” I insist.

“Then why are you drinking whiskey out here alone?” I pause for a moment, wondering if I should tell her what’s been on my mind for the past hour.

“I’m feeling…nostalgic,” I say after a beat.


“Don’t tell me you don’t remember when we used to-”

“Climb up to the roof and drink whiskey in the rain? Yeah, I remember. It’s kind of hard to forget something like that.” She lays her head back down on my shoulder. “But there’s something more than that.”

“You always were good at reading me,” I say. I set my now empty glass down on the porch to avoid fiddling with it. “I’ve been thinking about us. About you.”

“Oh, yeah?” She sits up to face me more directly, prepared for a tangent.

“Yeah,” I say, sighing. “You know, I was nothing before you came along.”

“I wouldn’t say you were nothing, Harold,” she replies. “Maybe a little lost, but certainly not nothing.”

“Well, I definitely wasn’t brave. I was always such a runaway. A gambler. I took a chance on everything and it got me nowhere. Until I met you.” The rain begins to pick up a little more. “It’s why I had so many trust issues when we met. But I also did everything for myself and no one else.”
“I remember. You did everything to keep away from me when we first met,” Zoe replies.

“Yeah. I knew you were trouble from the very beginning,” I say, laughing. “But when I met you, I couldn’t get away.” Zoe places her hand in mine and rubs soothing circles on the back of my palm with her thumb.

“I have been through pain in the dark like a knife,” I say, looking out to the thick, gray clouds in the distance. “When you came to me I was in the darkest point of my life. I was alone and I thought I was better off that way.”

“Clearly not,” she says. She continues to stare at my hand.

“I’ve been betrayed. I didn’t trust anyone but myself, and even then that trust was touch and go.”

“You can’t blame yourself for that, Harold.” Zoe squeezes my hand and looks up at me. I don’t say anything. I’m remembering the night that turned things around for me–the night that gave me the life I have now.

Zoe had been a friend of a friend. I had met her one evening at a local bar when I was out with a friend. I didn’t often go to bars without someone else that I knew–or at least hoped–I could trust. She had taken a particular interest in me. I did everything I could after that to keep my distance from her. For my own sake. I couldn’t risk being betrayed by someone who got close to me again.

One time late at night, she found me sitting on the roof of the bar. There had been a downpour all evening and I was soaked. My glass was filled with more water than whiskey, but I drank it anyway. I spent nights on the roof of that place when I was feeling anxious. The owner didn’t mind, but he always made sure to send me home before last call lest he find me passed out drunk on his roof.

Zoe walked over to me, purposely making her steps loud so as not to scare me. I appreciated that. I looked up. She was holding an umbrella and her own glass of alcohol. Her usually straight black hair was frizzy and curly due to the humidity in the air.

“May I join you?” she asked. I shrugged. After a beat, she sat down next to me, holding her umbrella over the both of us. She peered into my glass.

“What are you drinking?”

“Rain water with a hint of bourbon,” I replied. She chuckled a little and took the glass out of my hands and gave me hers instead.
“Are you trying to appease me or something?” I asked.

“Not necessarily,” she said, not looking at me. “Just trying to make friends.”

“Well, I’m not the type you’d want to be friends with,” I said. “I’m not exactly what you would call good luck.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“And that doesn’t bother you?”

“Not in the slightest.” I scoffed a little.

“You think you can fix me?” Though her face was serious, her eyes glimmered with amusement as she turned to look at me.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” she said, taking a sip from my glass. She looked up and sighed contentedly. I knew then that Zoe was much different from any other person I had ever met. She didn’t seem to care about my nomadic tendencies. She didn’t even seem to care about the poor weather or the lack of alcohol in my glass. She appeared to be enjoying just being here. With me. It was at that moment that I realized that she was good for me. She could be the catalyst that launched change in my life. And she did change my life. For the better.

The rain has stopped. My glass is empty. Zoe is resting her head on my shoulder and dozing off a little. I look down at her. I’m so very grateful that I allowed her in my life. I curl a strand of hair behind her ear.

“I’ve made a million mistakes in this life,” I whisper. “But choosing you was not one of them.” I turn to look up at the sky. The clouds are dissipating, allowing for a brilliantly blue sky to show through.

“You taught me how to be brave,” I say to myself.