Finding Closure Down Memory Lane

by Chase Clarke

There is nothing better in the world to me than sitting with you on the sea wall. We agreed to come to the beach because this is where we can be together without being disturbed. The night sky is clear and that helps the infinite city lights dazzle us from across the water. Together we look over the vast distance while a pleasant calm arrives and the cool breeze sooths us. We are new to each other. There is still so much to learn, but everything feels right. Every few moments, we silently work up the courage to look up into each other's eyes to make sure that the feeling is mutual... and it is. This is what falling in love feels like. The setting and timing is so perfect that it can never end. We talk about nothing in particular, but it doesn't matter because it's just our way of studying each other. We're learning each other's facial expressions, feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Our hands tentatively find each other. We're completely aware of the fact that we've been slowly inching closer as the conversation becomes more and more insignificant. My heart beats faster. First a gentle brush, and then an affectionate touch. You look at me and I hold my breath for a second and I delicately brush your hair back behind your ear. I can see your face completely now. There's no other way to put this, but you are so beautiful. My world stops for you in this moment and I become speechless, completely forgetting what I was just saying. I can't put into words the way I'm starting to feel, but I look into your kind, blue eyes and they tell me it's ok. You caress my hand and I can't wait any longer. I kiss you and I can feel you take in a short breath. We close our eyes and can feel the others relief that we have finally arrived to the place where we wanted to be. You put your hand up to my chest and you can feel my heartbeat. We kiss slowly because there is no rush, no worries, no fears, and no distractions. There is only me and you and nothing could make this stop. How come it took us this long to find each other? Now we have forever to grow together. I know we will fall in love eventually. We have to because a kiss has never felt as intoxicating before.

The light turned green and the guy behind me starts beeping. I snap out of the little dream world that consumed me without warning. I sigh and dismiss the memory because it is, after all, a memory. The cold weather turns the beach into a barren wasteland. There's nobody around. A fog hides the city lights as they struggle to burst through. I'm alone and completely drained after another typical night out with the boys. I drive forward and look back in my rear view mirror. I see how naive the two of us were. I turn the music up and try not to think about what went wrong so long ago. "I Wish You Were Here" comes on and the painful, distant memories come flooding back. I can't bring myself to turn our song off, so I decide to suffer through it one last time... again. The beach seems to never end, and I can't drive fast enough to get out of the past. There are too many other cars in my way. I speed by the part of the beach that is directly across from that old gas station with those foggy windows. This is where I decided I needed more from you than you could possibly give me. I look like such a fool asking you to spend more time with me while your were trying to finish school and start your career. I clench my jaw and push forward. I notice the parking spot further down the street on the left where you told me that you could never love anybody, including me. My stomach drops and I banish the thought by laying on the horn as some guy in a Lexus cuts me off. I punch the gas past a yellow light trying not to look at the bench where we discussed taking a break from each other. We were fighting about our ex's. If I had hit that red light I'd be right back on that ancient wooden bench shuddering at the thought of losing you again. We sat there for hours as I tried to make sense of what you were saying and you were trying to make it as painless as you could. I slow down. I see the park area where I thought we might be able to make things work. I had hope here, once. I stare into this dark corner remembering how you hugged me so close and so tight that that I couldn't see you crying. You could see our future before I could. I quickly chase that thought away as Eddie Vedder starts to sing "Black" to me on the radio.

"I know some day you'll have a beautiful life. I know you'll be the sun in somebody else's sky. But why? Why can't it be mine?"

I'm rushing past every single gut-wrenching memory and the images are just so vivid in my mind. I'm almost there, almost to the end, but there's that one last memory, or should I say regret? I don't want to think about this. I haven't thought about this night in almost a year. Now here I am, stuck at the last red light on the beach. I have to re-live this one. I have no choice.

Your head is resting on my shoulder, and we're tired. I feel so comfortable right now with the familiar scent of your blonde hair and the soothing way you touch the palm of my hand. You have your eyes closed. I love to watch you sleep. You look so peaceful. I whisper, I love you, so quietly that you don't hear it. I've done this every night that we get together. It comes out only as a breath. I wish I could say it louder but I'm scared. I don't want you to hear it because I'm afraid of what might happen. I'm terrified that you don't feel the same way. You look up and I kiss your forehead. Maybe you did hear me, but it doesn't matter. It's getting late and we have to start going home. I hated this part of our nights, because it's the beginning of the end of our time together, which has been sparse lately. I drive the normal way back to your house but you tell me that we should go the long way, to take up more time. I'm happy that you would want to spend more time with me. We see so little of each other these days. When we do see each other, we fight. I complain about your busy schedule and I'm worried about us. You tell me that you're comfortable with our relationship and that I had nothing to worry about. I thought it was neglect and was wrong. We fight about nothing. We forgive but then find new things to attack each other with. We have found those worries, fears, and distractions, and they are pulling us apart. We hold hands tightly. As tight as we can to let the other know that we're trying our hardest. As if we know that there is a void growing between us, and that maybe holding on this way will save everything. It's coming, it's inevitable but we're in denial. I feel desperate. You need to know how much I truly love you before it's too late. We get to your house, and you kiss me on the cheek. Once again, I say nothing. I couldn't just say the words. The void has finally swallowed us, and we are done. You say that we don't work, and I argue that you didn't try hard enough. I know you're right, but I can't accept this. I watch you walk into your house as I reluctantly pull away. I show up at my house not remembering any of my lonely ride home. I only remember that I haven't cried in almost three years before this night.

The light turns green and I'm grateful for it. I can try to move on again. I feel the cool sea breeze recharging me and I have to smile. The end of the beach is near, and I miss you so much. I miss your smile, the laughing, the holding, and the completeness. Something makes me glance in the mirror again and I see us walking away from each other.

We are so frustrated and angry. The hurt radiates off of us as we shout. We look back at each other from a heart-straining distance. You yell to me over this impassable abyss that you did love me but you just couldn't say it before. But I can't hear you from where I stand. You apologize for not sharing your true feelings and I apologize for the gap I've created between us. I tell you how much I love you, but you can't hear me either. It's too late and we're much too far apart.

I look away from the mirror and stare straight ahead. I refuse to look back again. I keep a warm place in my heart for you and think that maybe if I had let you hear me or I had heard what you had to say, things would be different. Maybe if you knew that I was as scared of love as you were, we would still be holding hands at the beach kissing each other slowly and softly, because there would be no rush, no worries, no fears, and no distractions. But then again, maybe not. Perhaps it was for the best, and we'll never know. I feel good now as I take a right at the lights and the beach is behind me, a memory once again.

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