AN :: Hey guys, just wanted to thank everyone who took the time to read this guy and leave your thoughts. It's meant a lot. Here's the last chapter, it just felt like the right place for this story to end, so I do hope you enjoy it. Thanks again guys, and now onto the ending...
One thing left.
Just a few minutes now.
My foot hovers over the sand. My toe skids over it.
Any minute now.
Toe pushes through the sand. It traces. Draws.
Etching the letters. Deep inside. Muddy morning light barely shines on them. Barely shows the crisp edges.
The letters. They were everything.
Today, they're not.
The letters are only letters today.
But they still try. They still want to blend in. My past with my present. My old life pushed inside my new one.
Deeply inhale. Breathe in the air.
I can smell them. All my yellow lilies. I see them. All their petals. They're falling. All over me. They're scattered. Everywhere. Pushed inside. Mixing in.
I reach for them. I sift through them. I hold them.
And I rake them away.
Looking over the ocean. Watching the waves. Watching them wind up, pulling back all their strength, everything they've got, before they come barreling towards me. Before they come crashing and tumbling. Spitting and breathing the closer they come to my feet on this shore.
As the water slides up the sand, it dies out, fades away. The waves slide, only to roll back. Retreating. Flushing back inside the dark water.
And then they begin again.
This life I've had. My ocean. My waves. All my waves. They've come crashing towards me. My biggest wave. Almost took me. Almost rolled me back.
Only took names in the sand instead. Only washed away letters drawn by salty toes.
Those letters are before me now. The dusky sun begins to paint them clearer.
These letters won't be drawn again. These letters will be taken with the waves soon. And I'll let them stay there, inside the deep dark water.
Where she always wanted to be.
Eyes closing. Breathing deep. Through my nostrils. Inside my everything. This beach. This moment. These waves.
Those letters in the sand.
All the new letters to be drawn. That will be drawn.
My toes scrunch beneath me, pushing inside the beach. Becoming one, inside this present, connecting with what's etched inside it.
Eyes flutter open and I see her. I see her right before me. Straddling a board. Rocking with the water. She glimpses back at me with piercing blue eyes.
They turn gray. She becomes a ghost.
Red lips smile. She fades away.
She tosses her wet hair, thrashing it in every direction. I feel the water, her gifts, so softly. She dissolves away.
She looks back again.
She blows a kiss.
She turns to dust.
Blue walls and sky colored sheets wrap around me. They try surrounding me. Try to remind. Try to slide into the grains beneath my feet. Try to blend in.
Try so hard.
But I try harder.
Head tilted back, looking up to the early sky. I push them away. I need to. I have to.
Breathe in bonfires. Chaste kisses on my teeth. Moments that slipped away.
Remember the words. Remember them drawn with shaky fingers into my skin. Remember what they meant. What they mean. What they'll always mean.
Coughing, teary and breathy.
Those words. Store them. All her words. Hold them. Keep them inside a safe.
Make a new safe. One for her. Only her. Give it a tight lock. Wrap her in her afghan. Wrap her so tight. Keep her safe, so safe, inside her blanket. And leave her there. Let her grow dust.
Let let her fade away.
Thumbing away pools of my tears. The breeze picks up. The breeze sweeps, wrapping it's warm arms around me. The sun stretches. The sun yawns.
The letters shine brighter. The letters breathe. They come to life.
I stare at them. Every Sunday afternoon. Every board that slipped from beneath me. Every view I admired.
Fingers stroking mine in the middle of the night.
I will not remember them apologizing.
I will not remember fumbling for phones.
I will not remember grasping at empty sheets.
I will remember hands held. I will remember eyes looking into eyes. I will remember soft kisses, so fragile, so careful. Everything so careful. So meaningful.
Fingertips brush against my palms. Pushing so hard against them.
Feeling the neck of my guitar. Tasting those Budweisers. Finding her eyes.
My heavy head lolls. Seeking solace. Seeking anything. Left with only a bare shoulder. My shoulder.
I will pick up that guitar again. I will make friends with it. I can't let it grow dusty. Forever living inside a safe. I won't let it.
Someday I will play again.
Biting my lip. Nodding. I train my eyes on the letters. Temporarily tattooed on this beach. In this sand.
The sun rises, over the water, shining onto me. Onto us.
"Sometimes I wish I lived on the East coast…"
The memory whispers inside me.
"…so I could see a real sunrise."
My eyes stare into the distance. My eyes stare for hers. Finding her. Carrying her. Holding her.
Letting her see.
I kneel down, hands brushing over the lines. The curves. Linking pinkies with a buried and open past inside the present.
A past trying to follow me through the future.
A past that can't.
A past that won't.
"I know this isn't how it should be, how we wanted it...but..."
Breath shaky, voice raspy, eyes squint into the sand then over ocean.
"…but I hope you can still see it. I hope you're seeing it, right now, with me..."
Everything becomes so still. A sea gull in the distance. My own breaths pushing from deep inside my chest. It all becomes so silent. The waves become so distant. This beach becomes another.
For a moment now. For one moment. I'm not here.
I'm there. I swear I am. I hear her. I hear her giggling. I feel it echoing inside me. I see her. I see the sand kicking out beneath her feet.
She's running through the water. Arms pushing, legs striding. Throwing her tall and lean body inside.
She shoots out of it. Draped in a glass cover of water. Her back to me. Hair shaking.
It all stops.
Slowly. So slowly.
She looks back at me.
One last time.
One last time.
That toothy left cheek dimpled grin.
And then she dives again.
One last time.
She dives under.
And she's gone.
The waves rumble. The birds sing. The sand crunches under my toes. The letters remain.
I hug my body tight. I buck against my arms. I buck against myself.
She's not gonna push through the water.
And I'm not waiting. I'm not believing she might.
Choked and whispered. Sliding out between slippery lips. Two words taking everything from inside me. Taking my past. My life. Her life. Taking and throwing it out to sea.
One last look.
The letters burn inside.
One last look.
I close my eyes. I breathe deep. Breathe in yellow lilies. Drops of water. All of it. Everything.
Breathe it in.
Hold it. So hard. So tight.
My back to the water now.
My back to the past.
My back to her.
I walk away.
I bite my lip.
The beach slows my steps. The sand hugs my feet. It doesn't want me to go. It doesn't want me to leave.
But I kick it away. I push harder. I walk faster.
I walk towards her.
Standing on the pavement, a daffodil in her hand.
She smiles at me. All lips. So natural. So soft. So like her.
A smile so far away from her blue name tag. This smile sits inside a kissing tree. Inside our chairs. Our bed. Our blanket.
This smile sits inside twenty six miles. This smile will only follow me through more.
She doesn't say anything. Just hands me the daffodil. Hands me her flower.
Makes it mine.
She walks with me. She threads her fingers through mine. Strokes me with them. They're not apologizing.
Someday, they might.
The waves rumble further in the distance. The waves wash over her name in the sand. Taking it with them. Taking her with them.
I breathe deep.
I breathe in this Nantucket air.
I leave her there. Behind me. I leave everything there.
Twenty six miles behind.
Spencer holds my hand tighter. Spencer smiles at me. She matches my eyes. The breeze blows over us. Through us. Deep inside. Sending our hair to dance together.
I look ahead to the open road.
Twenty six miles before us.
I hold her hand. Tighter. I stare into her eyes. Harder. I smile back. Wider.
Twenty six miles before me.
I begin again.