Pink cheeks hidden beneath golden skin. Piercing blue eyes. Crooked red smile with perfectly white teeth.
They're all hers and oddly they're all mine. They've been my map. My compass. My umbrella. My sunshine and my rain. Everything that you can imagine, she's been it. All that is her is everything to me.
And right now I can't see it. It's all turned away from me. Blond hair's the only thing facing my way. Highlighted white from the combination of salt water and the sun. I can see brave strands swirling in the breeze with absolute grace and ease.
Just like her. Careening through life with complete grace and ease.
A smirk finds it's way to my lips as I let my body lean against the open doorway. The afternoon breeze catching my own curls, a few fallen pieces from my loose bun sweeping across my face. I don't even bother trying to control them. I don't even try to stop the pieces from going wild.
Just like me. I've never tried to control or stop her and I've never wanted to. I've never wanted to tame her fire.
She's sitting on her favorite lounge chair on our balcony deck. Bikini clad body safely wrapped in an ancient blanket. Wrapped inside the afghan her grandmother made her when she was five. The one she always has with her. It's her comfort food. It's her treasured photo ablum. It's her favorite song.
She's sitting there inside her little cocoon, inside her own little world, just taking in the view over the railing. Taking in the beautiful landscape before her. A green expanse of trees with a random rooftop peaking through here and there. In the distance you can make out the beach. The beach we just spent our lazy Sunday afternoon on. Our favorite beach.
All because it's ours. It's our beach. Our names have been endlessly traced in the sand there. Traced with our salty toes. Sure the ocean claims those letters every night. But we'll always come back to draw them there again. We'll take back what is ours. What's always been and always will be ours.
Once again she dragged me into the water to teach me her life passion. And once again I failed miserably. I barely managed to stand five seconds before the board slipped from beneath me, pulling my ankle with it as I crashed into the water. She adorably stifled a giggle as she fell back into coach mode. Cheering me on with empty words and useless motivation because we both knew it was pointless. This was not my place. It was hers. I gave it a shot for her and I'll always keep trying. But eventually enough was enough. I finally threw in the towel and decided to literally lay on one. Doing what I do best; relaxing and sunbathing.
Meanwhile she went on to do what she does best; tearing through the rest of the afternoon. Just her and that beloved Roxy board, taking on the rest of the day. Wave for wave, minute after minute. I'd sneak glances at her often. Even when I didn't realize I was watching. I just couldn't help myself from looking at the sight before me. Looking at her effortlessly ripping through the water.
Damn she's good and she's mine.
While waiting for the next wave, her next big chance to show off, she'd straddle her board. Letting the water rock her gently, as she'd glimpse back at me. Her face never without that child-like smile, always blowing me an animated kiss, before going to paddle for another wave.
Yeah. Today was a good day. A really good day.
I cross my arms as I see her stir, toes stretching out beneath the beloved quilt. Any minute now she'll feel my gaze on her. She always does. I do this a lot. Stepping back and taking in the view. And I don't mean the one she's admiring from this balcony.
I stand back and take in my view. Soak in all that I have, and all that I've been blessed with. And of course she is at the forefront.
Finally I see her gorgeous face, complete with beach hair and bright eyes as she leans up, turning her head. Her eyes already know what they're going to find, and so does her mouth as it forms her trademark goofy smile. The one that never fails to make me smile. The one that makes me want to crawl right into her arms and never leave them. I'm seconds away from falling inside that safe haven, but remain where I am for a moment. My head leans to the side as I just watch her.
Her hand sneaks up in front of her face as one innocent finger beckons me over. I feel my cheeks dimple as a light chuckle floats from me to her. Her head tilts to the side, pointer finger still inviting me to join her.
"God, I love you."
The words are breathy and honest. So painfully honest.
Her fingers remain in her fist as her eyes say "I love you too". As her mouth hangs open, jaw crooked from her sideways smile. I freeze that image in my mind. I hold onto it for as long as I can. Letting it drip deep inside me.
I never want to let it go and I never will.
My lips curl as I go to step towards her. I don't however, because I can't. My body is frozen. She giggles and all I want to do is go to her. Fear creeps it's way into my bones. I'm paralyzed.
I feel a light hand on my shoulder. It's shaking me. It's pulling me away from her. I want it to stop.
Finally I turn around and face the voice. My eyes are strangely heavy. Like I've been sleeping. I see her face and it hits me. I realize that's exactly what I've been doing. I have been sleeping. I've been sleeping my favorite dream and now I've woken up to my living nightmare. That same nauseating beep punctuates the air as the stale sunlight streaks through the blinds on the window.
There are those blue eyes politely looking down on me. Filled with just the right amount of concern. Those same eyes that hit too close to home. The ones that are hers but could never match them. They're merely ghosts of her eyes. They're ghosts that haunt me and taunt me with what they'll never be.
"How you feeling today?"
I blankly stare at her, almost as if I didn't hear her. She doesn't hide the fact she knows I'm not going to answer. I never have and today isn't the day I'm going to start. She lightly smiles as she adjusts some machines, writing something down on a clip board.
I keep my eyes on her boring blue name tag, before I face the window again. Feeling the few lines of light on my cold skin. It does nothing to warm me. It does nothing to comfort me.
The same sun that once shone so many amazing memories into my life is now a stranger. I hate that sun. I hate that it can't bring them back. It can't bring me back to that beach. It'll never shine on our names in the sand again.
I feel that uninvited sting in my eyes. The one that taps on my shoulder, whispers in my ear that the tears are on their way. My eyes hop from side to side, as if they could run away from it. As if it were a game of tag. I purse my lips together so tightly my chin almost starts shaking. Somehow it's working though, somehow I've managed to compose myself.
And then I feel it. My broken body comes to life once again. The dull ache in my bones, the sharp pain of my cuts and bruises. The tightness of the skin around them. The physical scars of all that happened. The scars that will now shine new memories into my life. The scars that will forever be with me. Unlike her. These scars will see days, months, and years that she'll never see. They're going to outlive her. I'm going to outlive her. I already have.
My head falls to the side as the realization hits me. The realization of all I've lost. My map, compass, umbrella, sunshine, and rain. All those things that kept me together, kept me safe, and lead me home. I've lost them and with it I've lost myself.
My view's been taken away. I have no view. There's nothing to look at. No reason to stand back and admire what's before me. There's no point. I'm never going to see her. I'm never going to find her.
She's really gone. Cherry lips and aqua eyes. They're gone. They're things of the past. All I see now when I look before me are these dull wallpaper covered walls.
No stopping the tears now. No use in trying either. I let them cascade down my cheeks, a slow and steady river pouring from my eyes. Silently dying inside as each one drops to my hospital gown.
I feel a hand on my bare arm. It's obviously hers and as much as I don't want to look her way, I have to.
She's all I have now. She's all I got.
I turn and look at the one remaining familiar object in my life. That jaded name tag. It's become my safe place. Cause those eyes are too dangerous. They only remind me more and more of what I'll never see again. So I stare at what I have left. What I'll always have as long as I'm in this bed.
She's my nurse and she visits me every day. She visits me a lot. She's the one that changes my bandages. She tends to my abrasions on the outside and tries to tend to the ones on the inside, below the surface. She closes my wounds and tries to open the larger one deep inside my heart. She's hasn't gotten anywhere near it, but it hasn't stopped her.
She's the one who told me what each day would bring. What surgery I would need. What broken rib had healed. She's the one with the answers. She's the one who tells me I'm still breathing. She's the one that makes sure my hearts still beating.
"I'll see you in a little bit for dinner, Ashley."
I keep my eyes on her plastic name tag for as long as I can. Eying every groove and curve before she turns and walks away. My eyes close and I can still make out the outlines of each letter. The transparent tracings of Spencer written inside my eye lids. Written against them like chalk, just waiting to be wiped away. Just like those letters toed in the sand waiting to be washed away. Her name is washing away too, fading away with every passing second.
But just like those names, hers will resurface. That plastic name clipped to her shirt will blind me again as she checks in on me. As Spencer reminds me I'm still alive. And just like every other time, I won't believe her. Just like every other time, I'll search for something to prove her wrong.
Cause every time Spencer reminds me I'm still alive, I only feel more dead inside.