I put one slender arm around your body but you refused to turn and look at my face.
You knew you would see my eyes loaded with the weight of saltwater barely held back and at this moment, it was too much for you to carry. I believed it might be too much for you to ever want to carry. How capable are you of letting someone lean on you?
Or perhaps you are more than capable but I wasn’t the one you were willing to offer your shoulder to. I knew you’d loved before, and I couldn’t help but feel pangs of jealousy towards your past loves, unfamiliar to me, yet strangely too close for comfort, having once inhabited the heart I was trying so hard not to lose.
You said the time was wrong but in my anxious mind, I was convinced you found a situational excuse for an emotional motive. Or maybe I was just too romantic, emotional and idealistic and you were the sensible voice of reason. The wind around us whispered that it was you who was right. But what does the wind know about matters of the heart? It blew in cold.
As the tide rose, your breathing fell out of sync with mine and I tried to remember the last time our bodies moved to the same rhythm.
In a way, they never had. We fell in love instantly, we didn’t have time to match the pace. We became fire before the spark. I know that’s impossible, but impossible was us. Too good to be true and one in a million. A matter of seconds. Yet by modern standards, we never consummated our relationship properly, neither online in the net nor offline in a bed, in fact, on paper, there was not much to show except the beginning of the most unbelievable romantic comedy. And I say comedy because there was once a time when you made me laugh like a child running towards the sun.
The ocean now seemed crude and unforgiving as it encroached closer towards us, with its waves rising and falling uninterruptedly. Fuck those waves. How dare they keep rolling when other things fall apart so easily.
I closed my fingers around the tip of your sweater, squeezing it in hopes that the fabric could guide my next move. But since all my moves towards you have always been instinctive, no amount of advice from cotton or polyester could have stopped or started what I wanted to do. How do some people control their care? It just comes pouring out of me like rainwater. Lucky for you, when you were thirsty enough.
Some people think there is always one person who loves a little more, not in absolute terms, but relative to the other.
In true love, shouldn’t all things be equal?
I realized we were never equal because I put you first, and you put yourself first.
The equator for both of us was you.
This is why I’d wake up in the middle of the night to make sure you were still breathing, as if you were a newborn child, newly born into my world of affections, but you, you slept soundly as a baby no matter when the sun was rising in my hemisphere, undisturbed by the sleep I was losing over you.
You never lay awake for me.
And I realized that when your effect on someone is weaker than coffee, your worth to them is scarcely a cup of decaf. In a world where 99 cents can buy that, our story now scares me.
Then my hand floated up towards your jawline, beautiful and so different from mine, your features aren’t delicate, they are bold, jagged and unequivocal like rocks, I could spot you from oceans away. And I think you are the most beautiful creation for everything that in this continental scope is considered raw and imperfect, and I realize that I will probably never cease to believe that. I mean, I probably will, but I can’t imagine it.
The clouds smiled at my innocence.
So the sand became damp as my fingers landed on your cheekbone and you flinched ever so slightly, as if my touch electrified you the way my sight did the first time you laid eyes on me.
I remember that. You didn’t even try to hide it. I could feel your gaze from all angles as my back grew its own pair of eyes and I wasn’t taken aback by your shameless stare the way I would have been had it come from any other man, woman or child.
In a way I wish I could unlive those moments. Where it was you who searched for me in the crowd. You who spoke first. You who initiated every contact, from the first to the next to the last. It was you, from beginning to end, who made the decisions, and I would have gone along with most, as long as they did not infringe upon my self-respect too much. I made excuses for you. You became king of benefit of the doubt.
I should have realized that this set the tone for us. It was always you who dictated our Terms and me who signed the Agreement without reading the fine print. It would have warned me that loving and losing is a huge emotional burden for a heart as open as mine was at the time, a heart that had only just begun to reopen and found itself whole and content without romance.
But I don’t remember you even giving me this contract. The one you preached sounded completely different. You seemed so sure of our success, you don’t half-ass things. I wish you’d never said that because when I admire someone, I believe their words. But yours were only written in sand and, with every rising tide, washed away letting you rewrite them anew with me shores away, out of sight. I should have realized the impermanence of our nature – I myself move from sea to sea effortlessly. But I draw roots to every soul I encounter and yours in particular I wanted to entangle with forever.
Now we are searching for each other in the billions of grains of sand with every drop of water mudding our vision more. I wanted to reach for you the way a mouth reaches for an impending kiss. Like when we kissed. Of all kisses, ours I could never forget. Hesitant because we cared so damn much, natural because you and I were meant to kiss in this lifetime. Shy and nervous because to each other, we weren’t just another.
To you, kissing me was like kissing a new universe, you trembled just before entering it and I wish you would have gotten lost without return before landing back on the concrete of your previous realities. But I’m not good at playing games so I never hid the key. Of course, young hearts thrive on the chase and yours was too easy, I was open and raw.
Just as easily, I was done.
As darkness fell, I knew the day was over and the pain was one I recognized from long ago. I knew I would get through it as I had before, but every time that pain hits, I swear to God you think you won’t make it.
But I had to. My sea stops for no one.
Finally the pull to be washed clean from your scent became stronger and with the next rise in tide I let myself glide into the waves.
You saw me go but thought I was just taking a dip. I’d be right back.
This time, it was me who didn’t disclose all my plans because since there was no longer an “us,” you had no free entry into my mind. That mind was now full of thoughts never meant for you to discover.
So I drifted further away until you had to stand up to see me. You lost your balance in the wet sand and it surprised you. In the distance, I disappeared and reappeared time and time again and you started to feel seasick though standing on solid ground.
I could sense it – you don’t know it, but I can feel what you feel no matter what you communicate to me.
You still tried to communicate a little. You threw the occasional seashell to remind me of your existence, always catching me by surprise. Some of the shells opened up with a beautiful pearl, others cut me with a sharp edge. At the end, the pearls faded into dust and the cuts left little scars that I could see more or less, depending on the light that day.
As you kept looking you realized there were other creatures around. Some you barely noticed but others were beautiful. One in particular, you knew from before. She was from the land just like you, she was pretty, too.
And she wasn’t me.
She was well known and close by. You started to think about her more and less about me. With two desires in your mind, you realized the other body was much closer to you geographically while my physical distance remained unchanged. My emotional distance, you didn’t know, was growing too.
Women of the waves have this instinct: we know when our beloved’s lust has been cast on another.
I never met your new fantasy but I created my own fantasy about her in my head. I never asked you about anything. But my instinct was enough and the pebbles you threw at her in attention skipped past the ground into the sea and carried ripples throughout the water. We all knew.
From then on every shell I got from you turned into a cut. I started to duck. Swam faster.
When I reached the horizon, you saw me in my full essence. The sun set over the sea identical to the tattoo next to my breast that you never touched. You began to undress me in your mind. Your heartbeat accelerated as you imagined my breath quickening underneath all your weight, all the emotional weight I used to take for you as well as your physical body now, you crashing into me like the waves into shore, entering another part of my universe.
Would we never make love there?
The thought scared you, but not long enough to resist the earth. The other girl was fast ashore, her world was accessible now and I was at the dawn of something mysterious. My planets moved further away from you with every stroke. Some may have loved that but for you, it was too much. Too much because the orbit was not around you anymore, an arrangement unacceptable to you.
I wanted a love where your ending and my beginning were confused, you wanted a love where for both, you were the muse.
With water washing through every pore, I finally knew I didn’t want two you’s and no me’s.
At the beacon of sea and sky, I waved you goodbye.
saltwater hit your eye.