The ocean water is warm, but his lips are warmer.
And it doesn't matter that this summer was never supposed to happen. It doesn't matter that this summer is ending. In two weeks, I will at Brown University's freshmen orientation. He will be on the road, traveling from the gulf to the Rockies to the West coast, seeing things I will never see and loving people I will never love.
In this moment, we are one, a tangle of my braid and his jacket and the crystalline sand. A piece of me will always be here, I think. A piece of me will always be wherever his heart calls home.
The tide rolls in, and each time it does I experience a moment when my heart pounds, and I frantically think that the water can't reach us where we lie. But of course it can't. Of course it can't.
He is my first love. Though I haven't asked him, I'm sure I'm not his. The life he has led and the stories he has to share are evidence that I was not the first girl to fallen under his spell, nor will I be the last.
"I can visit if you want." He murmurs into my ear sweet words that I know cannot be. We've talked about this before. The train track of my life is headed to Providence. His is not.
I turn away from him, flinching when my eyes face directly toward the golden sun. "No," I say. "I don't want that."
He says nothing. We are utterly still, save our chests rising and falling in tandem. The thing that completes me will soon be gone from my life, and we're not even trying to change that. That's how we've always been, and how I suppose we will always be.
I sit up and look down at him, his face angelic in the noonday light. "I love you," I tell him softly.
He doesn't say anything back. He never has had to.
The ocean water is warm, but his lips are warmer. And right now, at least for a little while, they will make everything okay.