They wander out across the sand in the few lingering moments before sundown. The couple from the bar are barely visible in the dimming light, but for the white beach towel beneath them, as they lie facing one another, bodies flush tight, motionless except for the undulating forms of their heads– lifting upward, feasting on each other’s lips.
“Still at it…” He murmurs.
They both laugh. He wraps an arm around her shoulder as they walk along the wet sand at the water’s edge, waves tickling their feet– cool, salty breeze blowing her hair across her face.
“No ‘buts’. This is an ‘and’ “, she continues, turning to look at him, tucking errant strands behind her ear, so he can see her eyes. So he knows she is serious.
“And… what?” He stops short in the sand and dips his head to listen carefully over the roar and crash of the tide sweeping up and back, like the push and pull of her emotions.
“And I want to go to bed and wake up every day with peace of mind. To know you have a place in my life. That you belong in my life.”
“What could change that?”
“Shame. Guilt. Fucking sex.”
“Yeah. It stains everything it touches.”
They continue walking the shoreline in silence, heads down–contemplating their feet, making temporary impressions in the wet sand beneath, then filling with water and washing away again.
“You can’t blame a guy for trying…” he offers, with a weak smile.
“I can’t say I want you to stop trying…”
She takes his hand from her shoulder and entwines her fingers with his.
“All this attention feels good. But, I don’t think I could ever…”
He wriggles his hand away from her tangled clasp.
“I don’t know where that leaves us then…”
He sits down on the dune, knees bent, feet planted in the deep, white sand…gazing absently down the beach toward two men, one older and one younger, tending fishing lines beneath the pier.
“Does it have to be all or nothing?”
She sits down beside him and her eyes wander out to the waves and the darkening sky.
She had wished her husband was more interested in getting to know her better. She wished he wanted to know all about her first crush. She wished he was excited to learn about everything that ever happened to her—every thought, every feeling, every dream. She wished he were more like this man whose warm, receptive body waited just a fingertip’s length away from hers.
But, he had no desire to read her musings, her stories, her flights of fancy. He simply had no interest in what he could not see or touch. It’s too bad, she thought. He had never fallen under the spell of words. He didn’t understand the power they held over her.
This is what falling in love should be like. This is what she always wanted.
Spending the past week, lost to the sensations, the thrilling anticipation of his words. All the words! She thinks of how she has been so lonesome for company. For years. How all her carefully scheduled time was until now, just consolation for the emptiness. How willing she thinks she would be to throw everything away for this.
“We share something special, that’s true. I just don’t know if I can handle being with you without the hope that maybe…” he looks down and away. The fragile connection begins to splinter. To unravel right before her eyes.
She feels like this is all just details that need to be worked out, so they can get back to the way things were before she made the mistake of bringing up the inconvenient reality of their situation. She rises suddenly, dusting the sand off the seat of her jeans and reaches down for his hand.
“Maybe…we should have another drink.”
To be continued…