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Is This Goodbye?
There we are. Sitting about a foot apart in the white plastic chairs on the rooftop of the beach house my family had rented for one week in the summer. This was his last day – our last day together. After two nights spent together lying on the beach, our toes sinking into the cool, damp sand, the waves of high tide crashing and roaring just feet away from the tips of our toes, the endless galaxy of the starry midnight blue sky above us – it was one of those moments you wish would last for eternity. Those moments that once I arrived back at my beach house afterwards, I spun around, beaming, and leaned against the wall in order to regain my balance. Those moments that only happen in movies, and the ones I never even imagined would happen to me.
Yet nothing lasts forever. Everything comes to an end at some point. This is our end. As we sit there on the roof in an intimate silence, both of us know we are thinking the same thing. Would this be the end for us? In just a half hour or so, he would be leaving, driving back to his home and the very next day I would be heading back to mine. We would both be returning to our regular lives as teenagers living just as close, or as far away, as 25 miles apart.
Still we are sitting there in silence. We have not said a word to each other since the initial hello. I slowly remove my sunglasses from the top of my head and slide them down over my eyes, pretending to be squinting from the sun, when in reality just trying to hide buildup of tears I feel rapidly blinding my blue eyes. I notice his fingers carefully unhooking his stainless steel bracelet he had made out of a bike spoke – the one that I had pointed out with interest the other day. I watch him behind my sunglasses, still trying to blink back my tears, though I know there is no use since they are going to fall anyway. He begins to fiddle with the bracelet switching it from hand to hand, wrapping his soft fingers around it. I can tell he is pondering something and I wonder what is on his mind. Then, he leans forward and clips the bracelet around his shoe lace, smiling up at me. For a second there, I had a glimmer of hope that maybe he would give the bracelet to me; a slight feeling of disappointment comes over me.
I wonder who will break the silence first. I know it will not be me. The second I begin to talk, my voice will crack, my lips will quiver, and I will begin to taste the salty tears falling down my face. I do not want him to see how sad I am, though I am not sure exactly why I am trying to conceal it.
Then I hear the words that abruptly tear me away from my daze, “So what are you thinking?” he says.
I turn to look at him directly in the eyes, though he cannot see into mine. I say quickly as to not allow my voice to crack, “I don’t know. I just don’t want you to leave.”
“Me neither.” Then the quiet resumes.
He reaches for my hand, our fingers intertwined. With his arm resting on my leg, I notice he is wearing a friendship bracelet, striped with red, yellow, and green. I inquire about whether he made that bracelet too and he replies that a good friend made it for him. Thoughts race through my mind. A good friend? A girl friend? We had been very open with each other these past few nights. We had nothing to hide, we could just be ourselves. Unlike in our own schools, with people who have known you since elementary school; people already know your place and it is difficult for their perception of you to change. This was different, because we knew nothing about the other one except for what the other decided to share. I did not even know his last name. He did not know mine. There was something about that that comforted me, I felt that I could tell him everything and anything, he was the only person I had ever been able to be completely myself with. I revealed to him secrets of mine that I had never shared with anyone before.
Then he breaks the silence that had followed his response to my question. It is as if he could see into my mind and sought to clear things up. He continues to explain that the bracelet was from his ex-girlfriend who had recently broken up with him on the 4th of July – just five days before. With that I begin to feel even more comfortable with him and I allow myself to tell him the story of my recent break-up with my boyfriend as well. It is just another thing that we both have in common; something that ties us together, a bond of some sort, something that we can both relate to, and something that just adds to our understanding of the other.
More silence follows. I wish I could break the stillness, I really do. But as the time goes on, I know that we are nearing the end. I know that very soon he will have to leave.
Suddenly, he gets up from the white chair and stretches his arms out. I peer up at him. He can tell that I think he is getting up to leave from the look that must have been expressed with my lips. My eyes were still covered by the dark black shades of my sunglasses, with the pink hearts on the sides that when the glasses are folded, becomes a broken pink heart – ironic, huh? He immediately reassures me that he is not going anywhere, just tired of sitting. I follow his lead as he walks toward the white cement wall that encloses the rooftop deck. We are facing the bay side, where we can catch a glimpse of the navy blue water shimmering as the tiny ripples catch the sun’s rays between the gaps in houses across the street.
We stand there next to each other, identical reflections of the other, with our forearms resting on the wall, our hands clasped together. The silence is broken again. We talk about how amazing the past couple of nights have been. Images of those nights pass through my mind. I remember how nervous he was the first night to even hold my hand – probably trying to be cautious about whether or not I felt the same way. I remember lying on our backs looking up at the remarkable night sky as he talked about how it amazes him that the stars we are looking at right now could actually have died hundreds of years ago and still appear to be shining just as brightly. I remember him pointing up at the sky and laughing at me because I missed the shooting star that just soared across the sky. And I remember him making sure that I did not miss the next two that passed above us, as we both made wishes on them, keeping them to ourselves, of course. My wish being that that night would never end.
And then his cell phone rings with the dreaded phone call. As he hangs up the phone, I know that this is it. It was his sister on the phone reminding him that it is time to go. We both turn around, leaning our backs against the wall. He puts his arm around me. I cannot resist the urge any longer. I turn towards him and hug him firmly around the waist, deep down inside hoping that if I hold him long enough, he will not have to go. He puts his arms around me even tighter. It seems as if that moment is just stopped in time, as if we could stay like that forever. He slowly kisses my forehead and I look up at him, right into his eyes. We are close enough that I know he can finally see into my eyes behind my shades. He can see how they are glossed over, and in that moment, there is nothing I can do but allow myself to cry. Right there, in his arms, I cry. There is nothing he can say, but “I know,” and there is nothing he needed to say. All I desire at the moment is for him to stay right there, on that roof with me, and never leave. Never ever leave me. He lifts my chin up and kisses me. This is the most incredible kiss of my entire life. It is simply real.
Then, we release our embrace. We walk down the three flights of stairs, hesitantly taking each step, until we reach the rocky pebbles surrounding the entire house. There is no final hug, or kiss goodbye. He just turns around one more, looks at me and says, “My last name is McKnight.” I try to smile. I want him to remember me that way when he goes back home. But the second he turns around, my beam fades as I watch him walk away and not turn back. Of course he would not look back at me. He is probably hiding his face too. He had been so strong, but no one can really be that strong.
As I watch him walk away towards his beach house, I wonder if I will ever talk to him again. Will we ever really amount to anything? Or was this just a summer fling? We never officially spoke the words “Goodbye.” But was this really the end? I remember him as the boy who turned my summer around, mended my broken heart, and gave me hope that there are better guys out there since I had lost faith in the race of males after my last relationship. Whether this is the end or not, he changed me. He gave me a better outlook on life. All things come to an end at some point, but that does not mean it is the end.