The salty air pricked my eyes as I sauntered toward the crashing waves of the sea. Every year on this day, I have journeyed here to visit my truest friend. But today had been different.
I waited fifteen minutes for her to present herself to me, and finally, her silhouette appeared in the far distance of the ocean. As she drew herself closer to me, my heart fluttered in anticipation. I’ve never waited this long for her to show up before.
I noticed her eyes at first: sullen and dull, a darker blue than I had ever witnessed. The corners of her mouth formed a forlorn half-smile; her long blonde hair became dark and matted. What happened to her? I approached and offered her my hand.
“Cecilia,” I said. “What took you so long?”
She glowered at me. “Jimmy, why do you visit me here every year?”
“You’re my wife. This is the only day I can see you.”
“I’m dead. You don’t need to see me. You must move on.”
We sat in silence for several minutes. I gazed out at the ocean and observed the larger waves thrash above the smaller ones. The sky appeared dark and ominous as if rain would drench the beach at any moment. I wriggled my toes into the damp sand.
“I love you,” said Cecilia. “You know that, right?”
I turned toward her. “Of course, I know that. I love you too.” I focused my gaze back on the ocean. “I miss you.”
“Which is why you shouldn’t return here.” She moved herself in front of me and took my hands in hers. “It isn’t good for your mind. You don’t owe me visitations.” The intensity in her eyes frightened me.
“I let you drown here,” I said. “I couldn’t save you.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“I should’ve been watching you.” Tears welled in my eyes. “Why didn’t I pay attention?”
“You’re only human.” She grabbed my shoulder and her eyes lightened. “I don’t blame you, and neither should you.”
“I’m not the same without you.”
“No, but you need to heal, Sweetheart.”
I sobbed in my hands as she soothed me. We said nothing for twenty minutes. I longed for the warmth of her breath on my ear, but her breath produced a chill colder than the sea’s breeze. Her fingertips felt like ice cubes against my cheeks. Her skin once resembled the fragrance of sweet plumeria, but today, for the first time, I realized how dank it was. When did she become so cold?
“You’re right,” I said. “I’m holding on too tightly.”
Cecilia beamed at me for the first time. “You need closure.” She gazed out at the sea. “Our time is almost up.”
“Our time together never lasts long enough.” I stared at my hands for a couple of seconds. “Maybe it’s for the best.”
“It is,” Cecilia said. She cupped my face in her clammy hands. “It is. Go and live your life, now, Sweetheart. For the both of us.”
I grinned at her. “For the both of us.”
I gazed at her one last time before I hoisted myself on my feet. Her hand enveloped mine—almost warm again. Her hair returned to the long, flowing blonde strands and her eyes brightened to the sky-blue I remembered them to be. This is how I always want to remember her.
I didn’t look back as I strode across the sand. The hour with her ended, and I found no place for me here anymore. Cecilia’s life ceased here, but her memory never leaves my heart.