The Last Time

I watch as the sun sinks down onto the wide, blue-green sea. Every moment, each second here is not right – I shouldn't be here. There are a million other things, far more productive than watching my own dancing reflection in the clear water's surface, that I could be doing now. I have an exam coming up. I have a song to write. I have homework to do.

Yet, here I am, sitting alone on the moist grass, my hand trailing off into the sand. I grasp a handful of the coarse grains, but they slip through my fingers. Just as he had, months ago.

I remember clearly everything about him. His tousled-up, wavy brown hair, his wide, innocent brown eyes, his thin-lipped smile. How he used to drive me down here every other weekend. He'd hated the touch of sand, so we sat here, on this very spot. A small field of grass right here. I've always loved the feel of the sand, so when we came here, I would inch as close as possible to it.

What did we do here? We'd catch up. Talk for hours on end about work, my school, what we liked, out issues, what made us smile. The time we spent on the beach was always something I treasured, something I looked forward to. But even more than being on the beach with him, I enjoyed the two-hour travelling period to get from the suburbs to the countryside. I loved, relished, cherished the feel of the wind on my hair as I rode behind him on his motorbike.

I thought it'd last forever. But nothing lasts forever. Everything ends sooner or later. Sometimes, much sooner than you think.

Back in reality, the few people who remain scattered on the beach are beginning to pack up for home. I know I have to get over this. I know I should stop coming here. At first, it was fine. I inherited his motorbike and I could risk the total four-hour drive, no problem. But now, the bike's been sold. Getting here is a hassle.

How can I let go? When will I finally cease my fervent, frequent visits? For I know, deep inside, that I don't need to come here just to relive out memories. He wouldn't want to see me upset, or risking everything to reminisce. I can almost hear his voice in my head, calling me a geek, laughing at me, telling me to do whatever I have to do.

I involuntarily smile fondly at the thought of his mentality.

I push myself off the ground. The gentle breeze ruffles my hair, almost the same way he used to. My thoughts surround me, pulling me in, leaving me to think deeply. I cannot free myself from them.

I don't realize that my feet have taken me closer to the water. It is low tide – I need not worry. I bend down and pick up a seashell. It feels smooth to my skin, a beautiful pinkish conch shell. I barely notice the waves lapping at me sandals as I pocket it. He and I used to collect shells. It was our hobby.

I turn my back on the seaside full of memories, and walk away.

I finally get to the place I need to and hail a taxi. It's the same driver I've ridden with the last few times, since I sold my motorbike. His motorbike.

The driver recognizes me, smiles. "Back again?" he asks in a low, husky baritone.

I try to grin back at him, but it comes out fake. I give him my address, just in case he doesn't remember.

He does, and he's already steering off the sidewalk. "What brings you here once more?"

My voice feels cracked from lack of use. "Just clearing my mind."

Pause.

Then, "You can't hold on to him forever, you know."

I look up, away from my fingers that have been twisting uncomfortably on my lap, surprised. "How do you know?"

"I used to see you and him all the time," he replies. "And always enjoying yourselves. I hope you don't mind my nosiness."

"Not at all."

"A special friend?"

I look away quickly. Common misconception. "No."

The driver smiles again, that little flash of white teeth, and says no more. I know he does not believe me.

I am used to it.

I don't realize that after what seems like a few minutes, I am outside my apartment. I pay him the fees. He keeps it safely in his money box. I get out of the car.

Then I lean into his open window.

"He was my brother. He passed away a few months ago."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"This is the last time you will see me," I tell the driver. "I promise."

He nods. "I think you may be right."

And he's gone, down the tar road.

The sun has been extinguished, and the moon floats peacefully above me. I close my eyes. I breathe in slowly. I made a promise. It will be the last time.

It is time to move on.

I open my eyes and smile to myself.

I have healed.