All he was aware of was her. He was aware of her face, of the dress she wore, the distance between them. In this gap, in all the words that he had yet to say to her, was the promise of a great life. His heart was beating slowly but hard. He had never felt so sure of himself, so bewildered by the ease of what he was about to do.
A friend once asked him, “How does she make you feel?”
“She reminds me of winter,” he said.
“You hate winter. You hate the cold,” this friend replied.
“I do. But I once went out during one of the harshest of winters, just after the first serious cold of the season. I wanted to walk around the park, clear my head. A sheet of ice was resting across the top of the lake, fresh and new and clear as glass. Close to the shore, the ice could easily hold me. I am not a brave man. Never were. But I decided to go out farther. Baby steps. It felt like learning to walk again. Heart beating faster and faster, my feet taking me farther and farther. I eventually found myself on top of a sheet of ice so thin that it could just barely hold my weight. Imagine what I felt. The ice splintered under my feet, and as I stared down I could see the white cracks darting through the ice like mad, elaborate spiderwebs. Perfectly silent. No one around. No one to save me. No one but myself, my beating heart, and the sharp vibrations of the thin sheet of ice breaking under my feet. That’s how I feel whenever she looks at me.”
The air was still, absolutely still, the sand warm. She had not smiled once as of yet. The sea, its surface alive. Barely so.
They had been purely platonic. She was someone else’s. He was too busy thinking of being hers to ever fall for someone else.
He wanted to say something quite simple to her, but she was preventing it. He tried to remember what it was that he was supposed to say to her. Oh, yes, his life would be better if she’d kiss him then and there.
“I find writing to be a matter of hope,” he said. He was too nervous to look at anything except his hands. “We, writers, know that our stories will never come true, yet we hope that somehow they would. I wrote about you. I wrote about you, over and over again, and nothing happened. Most nights I’d fall asleep, certain that you were everything I needed. That I could be great, if only you’d hold my hand. If only you were real. If only there was some force that could show you that I was everything you never knew you needed. Something like that.”
She said nothing.
There were young couples strolling down the beach, their legs washed in moonlight.
“I write because you exist. I write because I have always desperately wanted someone like you to exist. What else would life be, if one could not even imagine his soulmate into existence? Hell is nothing else than the feeling that you are but a broken heart inhabiting half of something that will never be whole. I write because of you.”
She was silent. The darkness of the night, the resonance of the waves sluggishly crashing onto the beach, it all began to invade his senses. He could feel himself slipping from reality. He longed to kiss her, he was quite desperate for it.
He felt himself trembling, he knew she could see it.
They sat like that, on the sand, for a long silent time. Her beauty was directed toward the sea. She seemed to have forgotten about him and his words. She seemed lost in thought. Then, coldly, without a word, her eyes met his. They did not waver.
And in that moment, or maybe a bit later, he realized she was worth everything and kissed her.