The First Touch of SunlightBy: Len Webster
My Josh. His Beth. Someone else’s Meredith.
Destined to fall apart before their lips have even touched,
Samuel Michaels and Meredith Driessen have seven years of almosts between them.
Seven years ago, a night by the river would bind them together. Seven years ago, Sam’s entire world blew up before his eyes.
His only saviour …
She saved his life, exposing him to what it could be like to be with her. But that wasn’t Life’s plan. Because deep down, his secrets will destroy their lives and separate them. His secrets will break both their hearts until the day he finds her standing on the edge of the train platform, completely lost.
He did this to her.
And Sam knows that if he doesn’t go to her, he’ll lose her forever.
Will seven years be enough to mend their scars? Or will the secrets they both keep deny them once more?
One thing is certain …
You may never know tomorrow’s sunlight if you’re drowning in yesterday’s storm.
A happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else.
Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to The Deep North.
For Danielle Woodside.
For loving me as an author and then loving me as the person that I am.
For always being more than I deserve.
I love you more, my dear friend.
Thank you for letting me be part of your life.
Seven years ago
It’s my fault.
It’s always my fault.
Samuel Michaels picked up the bottle of Jack Daniel’s from the passenger seat. It was lighter than before he got in the car. His mother wouldn’t be happy. Disappointed wouldn’t even come close. She couldn’t look him in the eye. Not after what had happened.
Because of Beth.
Because of what they had done.
They destroyed what they knew.
They destroyed how they lived.
Their lives would now change.
He uncapped the bottle of whiskey and brought it to his lips. He paused and stared out at the river. It had started raining almost ten minutes ago, and in those ten minutes, his phone had rung a handful of times. Looking out the windshield, he was thankful the moonlight aided in his view of the river. Sam could just make out the raging waves. A sigh had left his lips before he threw back the alcohol and felt the burning on its way down his throat. Whiskey had never been his drink. The way the liquor scorched waves in his stomach was one he hated, but for Sam, he needed strong. He didn’t want weak beer.
He wanted to be numb.
The ringing of his phone had him returning the bottle back to the seat next to him and picking it up. He saw Phillip Hall’s name flash on the screen—no doubt, his mother had called his best friend. Sam declined the call and threw his phone next to the empty bottle. It’d been over an hour since he’d run out of his house to his car. He drove to the bottle shop and then to the riverbank. It was too dark for anyone to notice his car, not unless they came close.
Sam curled his fingers tightly around the leather-wrapped steering wheel and let his forehead rest on it. He wouldn’t cry. He promised himself he wouldn’t. But the flash of Beth’s trembling lip had him sobbing. It had been a mistake. She had said that months ago, and now, that same mistake had caught up to them.
The alcohol had finally kicked in, and he no longer felt. Instead, he relished the numbness consumed by his body. He smiled and then belted out a heavy laugh.
“What the fuck has she done?” He leant back into the driver’s seat, and his hand searched the door for the handle.
The moment he found it, he opened the door and fell out of his Jeep, landing on his hands and knees. Sam ran his palms through the wet grass and rolled onto his back, laughing. Once he was able to get back on his feet, Sam lifted his arms up and down as if he were flying and stomped towards the riverbank. He let his feet sink, even squishing his shoes into the sloshy mud. He laughed like a child, continuing to march in the dark night.
When he had reached the edge of the bank, he watched the water rush past him. With the moonlight beaming from above, he was just able to see the river current drowning a log.
“I want to be that log,” Sam said as he bent down and unfastened his shoes. He removed them and placed them on the wet ground. Moisture seeped through his socks and hit his skin, causing his toes to wiggle.