Epilogue - Michael

The life-giving rain fell gently from the sky, hissing into the bonfire of Hannah's paintings in the courtyard and shooing everyone back up the stairs and inside the house.

Almost everyone.

Michael stood alone in the rain, hands jammed into pockets, watching the smoldering ruins of masterpieces of his home world, never seen with these physical eyes, and never to be seen again. His mother's words rang again and again in his ears.

"Get busy living, or get busy dying."

"I cannot continue to waste my life pining away for the one thing I cannot have, can never have again."

Pining away for the one thing I cannot have. What about you, Michael Smith?

He brought his hands out of his pockets, pulling Rose's sand dollar out from one of them where he had kept it hidden since she'd given it to him on the beach that foggy morning. Tracing the edges with his thumb like a talisman, just like she had done... Tears streamed unnoticed down his face, mingling with the raindrops.

He brought the shell to his lips as if to press a kiss into its side, but then with a burst of sudden, hopeless fury, he tossed it into the flames and stood stock-still for several minutes, watching it slowly blacken in the embers.

"I'm ready to live..." he echoed.

He turned at last towards the stairs – and saw Donna waiting for him in the rain halfway up. Holding her eyes with his own, he mounted slowly, stopping two steps below.

"I'd like to come back," he said simply.

Her head tilted in sympathy. "I didn't realize you'd left," she lied.

They reached for each other at the same moment, sliding into each other's arms as they had a million times over the years of their marriage. Then the rain began pelting harder, and Donna choked out a small laugh, saying "We're getting soaked. Let's go inside."

"Yeah. Let's go."

They turned and ran up the stairs to join the others. All afternoon, their last in the huge old beach house, they partied, and smiled, and laughed, while outside in the courtyard, the sweet summer rain poured down, washing away the ashes of old regrets.