I received a call from a stranger early in the morning recently. Someone that used to mean a great deal to me. Obviously drunk and disorderly, angry, and lost. His voice a mixture of emotions, confusion, and searching for help. The night was cold and rainy, I had just prepared myself for sleep after an exhausting evening when the phone rang. The conversation started off as me listening as he yelled at random people in the background and me saying, “Hello?” ….Hello…seemingly so simple a word but yet the meaning behind it was so much more. It was my own confusion mixed with emotions that I hadn’t felt in a long time. The anger and the hurt burned and yet the shock of the call still stunned me. After being hung up on several times he called again. A request for help, a damaged tire, car, and soul. Despite his yelling and anger in the calls that followed because I took longer to get there than anticipated I carried on. I had made a wrong turn down the long road, struggling to see the lines as I searched for him. When I finally found the Phillips 66 where the damaged car and bruised ego waited for my arrival I felt pity, empathy. Despite his previous anger he hugged me tight, thanking me for showing up when nobody else would answer his call. I know I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t say no. I knew that we ended for good reasons, it would’ve never worked…we both knew it. I guess somewhere deep inside my tortured soul understood his and it drew me in, once upon a time. Perhaps it was stupidity and perhaps it was just kismet. I offered up my jack, but not much assistance otherwise. I was cold and freezing, watching him as he furiously changed his tire in the rain, and my heat blasting to fight the frosty winds that flowed into my open car door. I knew a lot of his anger was to cover up his sadness. I used to be like that, but I realize it was better to be sad than to be angry. It’s not fair to take it out on people that don’t deserve it. I felt obligated to reach out to him in his time of need, although I’m still not sure why. I followed him home to make sure he got back safe and there were no more issues with his car. He asked me to come inside and I did, against my better judgement. His mom had woken and was not happy to see me heading down the stairs of her house. She yelled and he yelled back, and I stood in the basement awkwardly. I looked into his room, the two grey chairs that sat in front of his television bringing back memories of the single night I slept in his bed. Only once and it was nothing more than sleeping, but for some reason it was a nice comfort. He continued on with his angry banter and covered my mouth with his hand as I tried to speak, I had so much to say but he wouldn’t listen. I shut up knowing that this was a fight I could never win. When he was done he asked me to stay. He said, “I’m not ready to leave you yet.” I knew this was the part where I had to let go, I finally felt some closure for the first time since our last huge fight and his subsequent silent treatment. “I have to go,” I said, and I did go. His sad eyes almost made me want to stay, to try to reassure him that things would be ok, but I couldn’t. I hugged him goodbye, and I knew it was a good possibility that I would never see him again, even though my jack remained in his trunk, which is where he threw it accidentally after fixing his tire. I was alright with that. It was over. He had once said things to me that I had only dreamed of hearing, and I thought he cared. I realize now that he was never capable of really caring about anybody but himself because he wouldn’t allow it. He had hardened his heart that was once so fragile and broken. He wouldn’t let anyone get close enough to break it again. He told me he didn’t hate me, that he never hated me. He was angry because he felt betrayed by something that had nothing to do with me. That he cared, that he still cares. I know these are empty words, but a part of me left there feeling like I had some power in this once powerless relationship. Before everything had been on his terms, but this time I was saying goodbye, I was saying, “No.” I drove home the slick roads shiny and wet. I felt good. I knew that once his intoxication wore off that he would probably regret calling me, seeing me, speaking to me, or telling me to stay, but he can’t take it back. I will forever feel that I had the last word, the upper hand, and even though it wasn’t my intention it feels good, it makes up for all the hurt I once felt because of him. I won’t shed another tear or contact him again, but I will always remember.