Ike rolled over in his bed with tears streaming down his face. The nightmare kept repeating itself in his head. Taylor's blue eyes filled with fear falling away from him. Remembering Taylor asking him why did he let him fall. Why he couldn't get rid of the guilt confused him. It was now coming out in his dreams. He closed his eyes again hoping the nightmarish dreams wouldn't return. Suddenly he felt a hand caress his forehead and he jumped at the touch. He slowly opened his eyes and saw his father's concerned face staring down at him. He quickly wiped the tears away with the back of his hand.
"Are you alright Ike? I heard you moaning."
"Yeah... yeah I'm okay dad." Ike answered sadly.
"Ike? I want to talk to you. Please get up and come outside. Okay?" Walker asked gently.
"Why? What do you...."
"Please Ike I am worried about you. I want you to talk to me about it. It will be just you and me. For the last couple of days I have noticed you have been having nightmares. I keep hearing you cry at night. I want to help. Okay? Please get up."
Ike nodded his head and fear formed a knot in his stomach. How could he explain what he felt inside? He slowly got up and saw his father walk toward the door of the camper and stood waiting for him. He put on a pair of jeans that lay on the chair across from the bunk. And pulled a sweatshirt out from the closet and slipped it on. His legs shook when he approached his father. Walker put his arm around Ike's waist and led him outside too two chairs that were in the back of the camper.
Ike sat down and found it hard to look into his father's eyes. He just stared at the ground.
"Ike? Tell me what you have been dreaming about. Is it Tay?" Walker asked with concern in his voice.
"I...I just keep having dreams about...." Ike suddenly burst into tears. The sobs shook his body. Walker pulled his chair in front of his son and grabbed Ike's head gently and pulled his face up so he could look into his eyes. He noticed they were filled with pain and heartache.
"Is it Taylor son?" He asked gently again.
"Yes! I keep dreaming he is falling away from me! I try to hold on but I can't! Taylor keeps asking me why I didn't pull him up! Oh DAD! Why didn't I pull him up?" Ike sobbed gasping for air.
"Ike? Listen to me... I know you tried your best to help your brother. You did the right thing coming back for help. I hope I didn't make you feel like it was your fault when I yelled at you that night! I didn't mean it Ike! I really didn't mean it! I hope I didn't make you feel like it was all your fault that Taylor fell!" Walker rasped with tears welling up in his eyes.
"No Dad! I have been feeling like this ever since it happened. I feel like I could have done more. Everyone keeps telling me I did all I could... but I...I feel I let Tay down! He trusted me! He trusted me to pull him up! But he kept slipping from my grip and he fell. I can't get Taylor's look of fear out of my head when he fell away from me. His eyes keep haunting me!" Ike shouted angrily pounding the arms of the chair with his fists.
Walker grabbed Ike and hugged him close. Ike wrapped his arms around his father desperately. The flood of anguish and guilt flowed out in uncontrollable sobs. Walker held on tight trying to let Ike feel the love he felt toward him.
"That's okay son. Let it all out! Just let it all out!" Walker consoled rubbing his back softly.
"DAD! Dad? Will Tay love me? Does he still love me?" Ike sobbed into his father's shoulder.
"Of course he does! Taylor will always love you. You said he didn't want you to leave him. He would only say that if he loved you. He was scared and you were there for him. Please Ike don't feel guilty about what happened. I know I can't take away your feelings. I want you to know I love you. I LOVE YOU IKE! I don't blame you! It was just a terrible accident! But Taylor is okay now and soon we will see him again." Walker explained as he rocked his crying son in his arms.
Slowly Ike pulled away and wiped his tears off with the sleeve of his shirt. He sadly looked into his father's eyes.
"I keep trying to tell myself it isn't my fault. I keep trying to feel that way, but it keeps coming back! The guilt I mean! When will it go away? WHEN DAD?!" Ike yelled desperately searching in his father's eyes for an answer.
"Maybe when Taylor comes home to us, hopefully then your feelings of guilt will pass. I wish I could take it away from you."
"I'm scared! I'm almost afraid to see him. I am so scared he will be angry with me, for not... pulling him back up. I know that sounds stupid, but I...I..." Ike moaned squeezing his eyes shut and rocked his head back in agony.
"It's okay Ike. Everything will be okay. I want our family to be whole again." Walker assured him lovingly, caressing the side of Ike's face.
"I do too! I love Tay! I love him so much!" Ike exclaimed tearfully.
"Don't worry. When Taylor is returned to us I will be there for you. If you need me don't be afraid to ask. Okay?"
Ike nodded and gave his father a weak smile. The pain he felt inside was somewhat relieved by his father's concern. It felt good that his father understood. His dad didn't make him feel like his feelings were stupid.
"Dad? Dad I love you so much! Thanks for letting me get this out. I can't say I feel totally good, but I am glad to know that you are there for me." Ike rasped cracking a small smile.
The sun was coming up in the east. It cast a orange glow around them. They didn't realize how long they were talking. They sat there together watching the sunrise. Walker wondered if today Taylor would be brought back to them. It was the end of the week. He wanted the emptiness he felt inside to go away. He missed Taylor so much. He turned and looked at Ike. His son looked exhausted, but calm. He hoped that this talk they had finally took away some of the guilt Ike was feeling inside. He knew only Taylor could make Ike feel whole again.
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