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We were quiet as we walked slowly along the beach, his arm linked with mine. The moon was hanging low in front of us, a bright, perfect circle that shone luminously in the sky. No clouds floated in front of it, no planes zoomed thunderously overhead. It was just me and him, walking down the empty beach, listening to nothing but the sound of the waves breaking on the sand and the sparkling of the stars.
A light breeze swished lazily by; barely strong enough to brush my hair out of my face. It carried with it the last touches of the hot summer day, warming my bare shoulders and smelling faintly of cut grass and barbeque. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, wanting nothing more than to freeze time and make this moment last forever.
I laid my head on his shoulder and I could hear the soft, calming sound of his breathing. We walked on, and I could feel the sand under my shoeless feet, a soothing feeling that crept up my legs and distributed itself throughout my body. The lukewarm water of the rising tide swirled around my ankles, my feet sinking into the now wet sand.
As the water retreated, it left behind debris such as seaweed and small, abandoned shell fragments. I bent down and picked one up, examining the flawlessly molded contours and the swirling, greenish color scheme.
It looked like part of a hermit crab shell, and the relentless beating of the waves had polished it smooth. It was beautiful and achingly perfect. I ran my thumb over it slowly. It felt like the face of a porcelain doll, or the side of a marble statue. I carefully put it into the pocket on my shirt.
I looked up at the sky, staring in wonder at all the stars I could see. In the still of the night you could almost hear them twinkling, flashing cheerily down at me from who knows how far away. I was filled with an emotion that I couldn't name. It swelled from deep in my chest as I looked intently up at the sky, and suddenly I felt like I was floating in space, surrounded by the brilliance of the celestial lights.
I realized after a moment that I had been holding my breath, and I let it out slowly, looking over at my companion. He was gazing up at the sky as well, and I could see that he had also been affected. I could see the constellation Orion reflected in his dark eyes, which were open wide to take in as much of the majestic sight as possible.
It was then that I realized that both of us had stopped walking.
I smiled, and he turned to me, his face displaying the same nameless emotion that I felt. I gently pushed his hair back out of his face, my fingertips brushing his forehead ever so softly, trailing back down behind his ear and down his neck to come to a rest on his shoulder. The radiance of the moon made his skin seem to glow with its own luminescence, and in contrast shadow his light hair. It was startling how different he looked and acted, here, alone, under the clear night sky. There was a flash above us, and we looked up quickly. A streak of phosphorescence was flying across the sky…a shooting star. I closed my eyes tight, wishing for this night never to end.
But then the moment was over, and we continued walking again, much slower than we had before, our heightened senses clearly aware of the complete silence.
"I am sorry," he said softly, his voice, instead of breaking the calm, only blended into the overall sound of it.
"I know," I whispered sadly. "But I'm still upset."
We stopped, and he turned to face me. "But it’s not like I’ll never see you again," he reassured. "It's not that far..."
"It’s almost a thousand miles!" I protested. “How will I know when we’ll see each other again? How are we going to-“
He leaned down and kissed me softly, cutting off my sentence.
"I tried, remember?” he said, sadness in his eyes. “But I'm not in control of where my parents decide to go."
I sighed, and we were silent for a long time. I had so much to say to him still, but I couldn’t find the words. I struggled mentally with myself, trying to sort out my tangled thoughts, until I finally choked out a lame fragment of a sentence. “Promise to call me." It wasn’t a question. It was a demand.
"Every day,” he responded immediately.
I lifted myself up onto my tiptoes and kissed him back, wrapping my arms around his neck. His arms slid up my back and pressed me closer to him.
"Promise?" I whispered insistently.
"Yes." I saw him smile.
I loved that smile.
The rising tide threatened to crash against our feet again. This time, he swept me up into his arms before the water hit. I laughed quietly with delight as he spun me around and kissed me again. I held onto him tightly, not wanting to let go.
When the water retreated, he set me down easily, using his hand to brush my brown hair out of my face tenderly, securing it safely behind my left ear.
"I'm going to miss you," I said. "More than I can say."
"I know exactly what you mean," he whispered. "I guess that's why it makes it so hard."
I looked over his shoulder with shock. I hadn't realized that we had made it to my house already.
"You should probably go inside," he said. "Before your Dad gets worried and sends the police after me."
I grinned, despite the slow run of tears down my face. He wiped them away with his thumb, then kissed me again, this time more intensely. I could feel his pain from the impending separation as well, and I ran my fingers down his neck softly, trying to soothe him.
"It's going to be alright," I said into his ear as his lips moved down the line of my jaw and onto my neck.
"What, so you're reassuring me now?" he said jokingly, pulling back, much to my disappointment.
"Someone has to, and I'd much rather it was me than anyone else."
He smiled, and kissed me one last time, simply, on the mouth.
"Goodbye," he whispered.
I didn't want to say it, as if somehow refusing to say goodbye would keep him from leaving. But I said it anyway, and I turned to go in the house, my hand lingering in his until there was too much distance between us.
I watched his slowly retreating form through the living room window for a whole thirty seconds before I realized what I was doing.
I ran to the door and wrenched it open, hurtling myself out of it as if I was on fire.
I shouted his name, running to him as fast as my legs would allow. He smiled, and held open his arms for me as I slammed into him with all the force I could. We crashed to the ground, and I began kissing him furiously.
"I don't want to say goodbye just yet," I whispered. "Let me stay with you a while longer."
He didn’t say anything. He just lifted his hands up to push up my long brown hair that had spilled down into his face as I looked down from on top of him.
It was one of those perfect nights that come once in a lifetime, or one that could only exist in the movies. Neither of us had the urge to speak again, and neither of us wanted to.
Just being in each other's company was enough to say all that needed to be said.