It was summer and she was hopeful. They had been out by the water all day and had gone in for a rest. Now they were clean and dry, except for her damp hair that blew wildly out the open window.
The city lights were nearing, speeding quickly on as they drove up and under and around the tangled highway. She could feel the energy of the city spill out to meet the energy increasing in her. The air and lights and cement and radio were churning and pulsing, matching the beat of her mind. She smiled and turned to look at his steady, un-churning face. This is what she had come here for.
They entered the city and crossed straight through it to reach the water once again. This was not the well-kept beach where they had spent the bright, carefree day amongst the usual summer crowd. Here the water met rocks and then cement. Here there were no crowds and every dim street light cast shadows. She was still carefree, but his clenched jaw and fists told her that he was not. She had made her choice and was now free to live in it. Here was where it was his turn to make his. She was hopeful.
They walked from the car out to the very edge of the water that spread far and dark blue and calm. Small waves came in to splash quietly against the cracked cement.
They sat down and let their feet dangle over the edge just out of reach of the water. She scooted to come as close as she could without touching him.
“If you come then you’ll have to come forever,” he said, keeping his gaze on the water. “You will never be able to turn back.”
“I know,” she said, brushing a strand of hair out of her eyes to see him clearly. “That’s why it took me so long to decide. I know it’s final.”
“It’s final,” he nodded.
They sat in silence. She could feel her emotions welling up and mixing and pulsing. She felt they were starting to seep through her skin. She wondered if he could see it.
“You seem happy,” he said, turning to her, “with all of this.” He waved his hand out over the water.
“It’s final,” he said again.
“Final,” she repeated.
Now this was it. She had taken the step, finally, and now it was his turn to accept. Or not. That had always been a condition. He was free to accept, and free to not.
She turned to look out on the water and thought of what she had confirmed: happy.
Yes, it was true. She was sure, and she was happy. The continual beating in her mind that made every other part of her beat was proof. Happy.
He reached out to take her hand and looked at her. She turned to meet his gaze. His jaw clenched again but the light in his eyes changed. It flashed a shiny black she had never seen before. It made the beating inside her stop. She drew in a quick breath.
“OK,” he said simply. “OK.”
Song: “Don’t Swallow the Cap,”
by The National.