On the Count of Two

“Sampson, are you waiting for an invitation? Jump in!” He shouted, a soft, harmonious laugh escaping his parted lips.

“Shut up, Kale,” she whispered, ducking back into the shadows of the trees, the moonlight not daring to give them away. “It’s freezing, and I’m not plunging fifty feet to my death alone. Let me remind you that I’m not the one completely and utterly terrified of water,” she teased, the singsong timbre of her voice piercing the silent night.

“I’m not afraid,” he stated, emphasizing his words with caution, his eyes narrowing alluringly.

“Then why am I the only one ready to make the jump?”

Stepping out onto the large rock before him, he glanced over the edge, down into the abyss of calm water below. He shivered, but carefully hid that fact as he pulled his shirt over his head, stripping down to just his own bathing suit. Finally, he extended a hand in her direction. His eyes gleamed with something like anger, fear, love, and excitement, all meshed into one person that made up himself.

They stood on the very edge of the rock, hand in hand, their pulses beating in a rhythmic manner, so together in that second that if one listened hard enough, it almost sounded like they made up one human being.

“Ready? On the count of three.” He glanced toward her, smiling shakily, but able to squeeze her hand in encouragement. “One… Two…”

In one fluid motion, he leapt forward, taking her with him. The air rushed underneath them, their bodies turning in an uncontrolled manner. In a matter of moments, he hit the water, squeezing out one last grin of triumph before he plummeted into the

darkness that surrounded him. Surfacing, he gulped a breath of fresh air, his eyes falling upon a breathless Ashlynn. With their legs brushing against one another beneath the water, he couldn’t help but laugh, a joyous, charming chuckle tumbling from his lips.

“On the count of three? You little liar,” she remarked, unable to hide the small grin.

“What can I say? I’m known for jumping the gun,” he responded. “Sometimes you just got to close your eyes, and let yourself go. You can’t live anticipating the moment, you have to be the moment. You have to know what you want before you go out and get it, even if it means jumping before you’re ready. Live on impulse every once in a while. You know?”

She stared at him for a minute, unable to truly believe that he spoke those words. Kale never acted upon impulse, he always kept knowledge of himself at each particular second, not looking in the moment, though, he always looked at the future, planning things out today that would help him later on.

“You? Impulse?” She laughed, not quite believing him. The man she’d known for almost her entire life never acted on impulse.

“Marry me,” he blurted, the words passing his lips before her could stop them, but he meant it, every single word.

“Yes, it’ll always be yes to you, Kale Cooper.”

Pressing his lips firmly to hers, he finally found himself, somewhere in this motionless sea he collected the pieces. She became the last piece to his puzzle, and in that

way she completed him, made him whole again. Somewhere he always knew, it just took one night of facing the unknown, and taking a premature leap to notice just that.
* * *
She stood by the window in all her perfection, her hair billowing in the late summer’s breeze. He never received such a chance to look at her like this, her lithe frame supporting the sun’s rays, their glory splashing with such kindness that she appeared to him in the form of a goddess. In that moment she noticed him, his head tilted to one side, admiring her with his honey colored eyes. She smiled, her fingers quite gracefully leaving the window frame as she proceeded toward him. Her steps light, she increased her pace to that of a slight run, effortlessly cute as she bounded into bed beside him. He enveloped her into an embrace, his arms encircling her easily. Confidently pressing his lips to hers, they became one again, her smile spreading like wildfire, until the corners of his own lips spread, as well. Kale Cooper, a man so much in love with this woman, couldn’t help but feel happy.

“What are you looking at, silly?” She asked, pulling away from him for an instant, the temptation of crushing her lips to his again very much alive.

“You, of course, who else?” His eyes dazzled in the sunlight, affectionately glancing her over.

Her gaze fell for the briefest of moments, her shoulders slumping ever so slightly. She quickly kissed his forehead, curling up on the pillow beside him. He took notice to this, worried. With his brow furrowing in concern, his fingers traced small circles on her arm, her skin delicate, smooth.

“Tell me, what is it?”
“I… I was thinking of us,” she said softly, her sapphire eyes catching his. “I just…” She hesitated, toying with a piece of hair as she turned herself somewhat away from him. “I can’t do this, Kale. I can’t keep pretending that this is us, because it’s not. You need to move on, to let go, and with me here that’s not going to happen.”

He ran his fingers through her chocolate locks, his gaze immediately softening. “I don’t want to lose us, Ash,” he stated tenderly. “I love you, you know that.”

“I know, but you’ll find someone else, you’ll love someone else, just like you loved me, maybe more. I want that for you, Kale, more than anything. You can’t live your life with your head stuck in what was, or what you could have done to change things, because you can’t change things, I’m not magically going to reappear again.” There was sadness in her voice, her eyes pleading.

“I don’t want to forget you, Ash, and that’s what I’m afraid of. I don’t remember your smell like I used to, or the song you used to sing every morning in the shower. I don’t remember things like that, and it kills me, every day.” His voice was pleading now, his eyes not the warm golden coloring, but a dark, disappointed shade of brown. He shifted on the bed, gently pulling her to face him, his eyes simply searching her now for answers.

“You won’t forget me, you’re bottomless in memory, Kale, you remember every little detail about everything, you always do. You may just remember me deep down, or for a fleeting moment when you drink raspberry iced tea, or open a book, and smell me on the pages,” she said, cracking a gentle, cautious smile, one of which he didn’t find

funny, not at all. “You can do it, you just have to jump right in, act on impulse, remember?” She paused, her fingers tracing his jaw line before finally placing a light kiss on his lips. “Remember, you always jump the gun, even when you’re not ready.” She gave him another weak smile, that famous Ashlynn Sampson grin. “One… Two…”

When he looked over, she disappeared, gone from his view, from his life, leaving just an empty hole in his heart. He still felt her touch on his skin, her kiss tingling on his lips, lingering with a burning intensity. She left him with nothing other than his memories, and that itself killed him inside. He knew of no way to bring her back, not from the accident she endured. That one car crash changed everything, taking her life in the midst. He walked away from the scene, clawing at the car to get to her in time, but soon found it to be too late, Ashlynn Sampson, his wife, the girl he loved, was dead, and he forced himself to come to terms with that. It allowed him to realize the importance of those little moments, the acts of impulsion; they remained the moments that made up his life. She taught him how to be the very best version of himself, and to take a chance on love, on everything, even when he wasn’t ready.





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