The rock is smooth, and cold – just like my heart, and his hand.
He sits next to me, on the rock, jutting out into the waves of the restless sea. The moon rises high above us, the glimmering pearl hangs above our lives like a forlorn passerby, questioning just why, and how, we have come to be like this.
The waves come crashing, one after the next, showering both of us in a misty spray, yet neither of us wants to back down, to head back up into safety.
I’m afraid to look at him. I’m afraid to turn my head slightly, afraid to even catch sight of his face, for I am dreading what I will see. However, I don’t need to look at him to know for certain. The flames have sputtered; the short-lived fire has failed to rekindle.
Several months ago, love was just another word. And then it became everything, consuming everything in our lives, just like the ocean waves, draining away at our – my – patience.
Love, then, became like death, for both of us, in that it gave us everything, yet we did not truly own it, we were simply renting it for the duration of our satisfaction. What I didn’t know was that it also began to steal away everything else, the things that had existed previous to our ill-informed passion.
He said the magic words first. I was a fool to listen, a fool to believe, naive in my faith for him and his sincerity. And now, his hands hold mine, in a cold and vice-like grip, like he is afraid to let go, fearful that the ocean will rise up and snatch away at whatever bonds that are left that holds us together.
What good ever came out of falling in love? A few, brief moments of happiness, yes; satiation of our desire, obviously; but what else? Have I gained anything else apart from such short-lasting triumphs? Was love supposed to be this ephemeral, this brief, and so painful?
Was love not supposed to last?
I don’t know what he’s thinking right now, except for the fact that his hand is now clenched even tighter around my own, his fingers entwining into mine. And suddenly, I feel like the protagonist in a bad romance novel, and I suddenly get the feeling that this will end with one of us jumping into the sea.
And the sea does, indeed, beckon; the dark water below us seemingly begs us to jump in, dive, forget.
His hands convulsively tighten, and in my shock, I turn towards him for the first time tonight. He is crying; I can tell by the way his cheeks tighten, just like when he laughs. But I know he is not laughing.
How will this end, I muse. Will one of us really jump, like my brain so desperately wants me to do? Will we both reverse course and turn around, facing whatever may come, no matter how unexpected, or how fearful, the future may be?
He stands up, and I follow, stumbling a little at the force of his grip. Love may be beyond us now, like a ship sailing past the horizon, but for some reason, I still find myself in his shadow, trailing his decisions, and unable to break away.
We are still trapped in a relationship that has grown even more complicated, like an insect struggling to escape a spider’s web: the more we seek to push ourselves away, the closer we find ourselves becoming.
Strangely, I find myself wondering less about what will happen next, and more about what he is thinking. Is he also cursing himself? Or is he simply frustrated at my lack of patience?
Should I be cursing him for his … everything? Or should I be simply cursing at myself for letting this happen?
Never have I felt so hopeless, so destitute. I imagined love to be beautiful; it was a shining specter of light, giving me hope for the future, filling my fantasies of what will happen to me once I find it, the ever-elusive four-letter word.
And then, I found it. I thought I had found it. Then I invested in it, never doubting its veracity. And then it turned on me like I had never expected it to. And everything fell around me, tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.
Or perhaps it wasn’t love at all, and I still haven’t found it yet. Perhaps it’s hiding somewhere, waiting for me to come and dig it up.
What I do know for certain, though, is that it doesn’t exist in the man walking next to me, the man who is still holding onto my hand.
Should I let go? My hands clamor to be free of his embrace, but something tells me that if I do, the little shred of decency that still exists between us will be irrevocably lost, and we will be worse than strangers – we will be enemies.
I don’t want to be his enemy. He was naive, too, after all. Yet, I do not want to forgive – not now. Am I wrong? Should I shrug, smile, and say, “It’s okay”?
The ocean recedes behind us, the sounds of the crashing waves fade. Even though the sounds are gone, their tumultuous motion remains inside me, dredging up the memories of the present and the past into a rush of emotions that makes me dizzy.
What will happen to us, now?