The horizon had burst into an infinity today. An infinity of infinites. Infinite shades. Infinite emotions. He tried ignoring the waves tickling his feet and looked at the horizon; drowning the already sinking Sun in his crystalline blue eyes that looked like the burning skies. Or perhaps his burning heart. His heart…Breathing in a deep whiff of salts, his eyes reflecting darkness, he placed his right palm over his heart, feeling. Feeling his heart dance to the rhythm of the breeze. And the cold metal of his watch that filled him with warmth and shudders altogether.
“Time’s not always good or bad. Sometimes it’s just there. Like a companion. Always. Making memories. So, in honor of our time together then, now and till forever, I gift you this.”
She handed him a box wrapped neatly in a white wrapper that glittered with a satin bow on top that matched her turquoise top perfectly.
“What’s that space for on the side? Is something missing?”
She’d winked and flashed her wrist that were normally bare, now entwined with a black watch with a slightly oval dial with slender bands that fit her petite wrist perfectly.
“It’s a pair.”
“It’s beautiful. They’re perfect together. “
She’d suddenly worn a sloppy frown and crinkled her nose like bunnies did.
“I know you really like white and how this is completely in contrast to that but there was something really appealing about it. You know, they reminded me of black bodies. They absorb every wavelength of colour and radiates them all back. Just like how time gives us every colour at some point and then takes that colour another time. I kno-“
Her hands had stopped midair right beside her flushed cheeks; her eyebrows tried to reach out to her hairline of soft, subtle curls that reminded him of coffee beans and, her pursed lips caused a slight dimple on her left cheek.
“I love it. Honestly. “
And then came that smile that was richer than Bill Gates’ bank balance. And it was what brought balance to his world. He’d told her how it had become his favourite before he’d even opened the box completely, as he slipped it over his right wrist.
He’d never bought or worn any other ever since.
The tickles brought him back to the burning skies as they started turning to ash. The waves were racing with each other, sometimes bringing soaked gold and treasures with them, sometimes taking it away. He saw the impressions of his feet turn to ghosts. The ghosts of two pairs of feet along the coast.
Her eyes had been glistening with the spark of a New Year’s Eve night and her lips had caught the grin of a child in a mischief. The winds had been whistling. And as the waves hushed to us, she leaned in and whispered a whisper so soft that he could hear the tinkling of her charm bracelet dancing with the winds as she pulled her hair off her cucumber eyes that now hinted towards plums and tucked it behind her elfish ears.
“I love… Aaaaah!”
Another loud hush. Another set of ghosts. The echoes of her laughter filled their moment’s incomplete dome.
He suddenly caught himself laughing like he had then. With her. With her memory. Except it brought an ache to his heart rather than his stomach. Like it had…then. The wind got more fiercely unknown all of sudden, the waves harsher and the Sun’s screams louder. The world’s echoes stung his ears. His world’s. The world whose pieces he was picking up now after leaving them unattended all this while. Their memories. Their moments. He hugged his coat tighter, trying to shield himself from the cold. From the cold that had made him numb now. From outside. Or within. The same black coat he’d worn one year ago and then never again. The same contents. The same contents he’d never taken out. The same violet colour velvet box he never opened while he went down on his knees. The same black diamond. The same place he never sunk his feet back in in one year…
“Hey, what’s going on? What’s with all the crowd? Police? “
Everyone was too busy. Doing what? And why? He didn’t know. And where was she? She was supposed to be here. She said she’d reached. He scanned the crowds at a height of 6ft. She wasn’t there. But how come? What was that dress that she was wearing? Yes, it the one he’d got her from his trip to Paris. The white chiffon dress with woollen lace works on it.
“Oh my God! I LOVE it! It’s beautiful. It’s it’s…I feel like wearing it 24×7 now. But it’s too nice. Eee. Gaawd. Thaaaaaaaaa-just a minute, I need to catch my breath-aaaank YOU!”
She wasn’t picking up her phone also. “Switched off”, said the automated voice. He should probably ask someone. Maybe someone saw her.
“Excuse me? Have you seen a young girl in a white chiffon dress? Green eyes, long; wavy brown hair? No? Are you sure? Okay, thank you.”
“Hey, excuse me, but have you seen…”
And he kept asking till he found a set of eyes that lighted with recognition. But there was an unsaid darkness in his face. Why?
“Did you see where she was going? Do you remember where you saw her? Could you please tell me?”
“She’s beside the ambulance.”
“Ambulance? Okay. Thank you.”
He didn’t see any ambulance. Someone’s hurt. For some odd reason, his heart had started to skip beats. And the beats it wasn’t missing; they were beating as fast as Usain Bolt ran.
“Do you know what happened?”
“Some lad drowned, they say.”
“Oh. How awful.”
“The tides were high tonight, son. The tides were high.”
And with that, the man wondered off across the sands of harbour. And he; he sprinted towards the ambulance. Someone had drowned. It wasn’t her. She was safe. But where? She was a champion in swimming. And the open sea was her pride. She was probably helping them out or so; likely of her to do that. He had reached the ambulance and now all he had to do was to find her and give her one tight hug; feel her heart beat against his. He turned his head every angle possible, straining his neck till it might just break but, he couldn’t find her. Not the briefest glimpse. The officials. Would they know?
“Excuse me, Officer, I’m looking for my girlfriend. She’s in her early twenties. Curly brown hair; green eyes. She’s wearing a white chiffon dress. Someone said she was near the ambulance. Have you seen her?”
“Sir, do you have any photo of her?”
“Photo? Yes! Yes, I do.”
He always had one of her with him in his wallet. They’d taken that picture when they’d gone to Switzerland. At Mount Titlis. In the midst of the condensed milk as the Sun wished good night, it’s yawn covered the snow capped peaks with cotton candy.
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to please-“
“Have you seen her?”
“Sir, please list-“
He didn’t have the time to wait for the officer to finish. He couldn’t wait any longer. It had turned from twilight to night and he still hadn’t heard anything from her, let alone seen her. He suddenly felt the tug of trained arms at his.
“Sir, please! You’ve got to listen to me.”
“Listen, buddy. I’ve been searching for her for the past 6 hours. Six hours, okay? If you know where she is or so, tell me. If not, don’t waste my time.”
“Sir, there’s been an accident. Someone’s drow-“
“I KNOW THAT. JUST TELL ME IF YOU KNOW WHERE SHE IS. YES OR NO?”
His heart was threatening to rip apart his chest and escape.
“Where is she?”
“Sir, I’m so-” “WHERE?”
“Please follow me, Sir.”
“What? No, no, just tell me where she is. I’ll get her on my own.”
“Sir. I’m taking you to her. Please.”
His heart would’ve argued but his heart was out of patience.
“Hey. Why are you taking me inside the ambulance? What the hell is going on?”
“We’re extremely sorry for your loss, Sir. We tried. But we couldn’t save her.”
He couldn’t understand what was happening. His head felt like lead. It felt heavy. Too heavy for his knees to stay strong.
“Sir! Sir, are you okay? Sir?”
He couldn’t process what was happening anymore. There’d been some misunderstanding, he was sure. It wasn’t possible. And then he saw. The perfect match to what he wore on his right wrist. Those fingers which fit in perfectly between his. Drenched coffee beans. He saw a face. Dimple less. Lifeless. Their fingers fit again. But like fire and ice that left burns on his hands; burns that never showed or healed. He didn’t understand.
“Due to the high tides, a canoe got hit. There was a young boy in it; alone. Well, he wasn’t strong or skilled enough to handle these tides. According to witnesses, she was at the shore and when no one was there to help the kid, she went in herself. She reached him and was even bringing him back but, the tides kept getting worse. By the time our rescue team had reached, they both had started drowning. We got them ashore but she’d already lost consciousness and there was too much water in her. We couldn’t bring her back. We’re sorry for your loss, Sir.”
“Critical. We don’t know if he’ll make it or not.”
The ring read ‘Till we find a corner in our circle of life.’. They found the corner before their circle even started.
He’d been one too. Till he met her. And now he’d been orphaned again. She used to loved this place. They loved this place. They’d become an “us” here. And now that same place had broken apart their “us”. The Sea always gives back what it took. Did it take back what it gave too now? He’d pushed it all to a corner in his head. A corner he’d never visit. A memory locked away. Collecting dusts like book on an overwhelming bookshelf of an overwhelming library. The wind ruffled his jet black hair like she would, whispering memories into his eyes that he’d deprived them to see, and his heart to feel all this time. He didn’t know when his knees gave away to the burden he carried. When his face started getting drenched because of himself instead of the splattering waves. But he did know that he wouldn’t stop himself today.
He’d been stupid. Stupid to try to bury her memories. Bury their memories. Stupid to try to forget her. To forget himself. Stupid to have thought that they’d reached the corner before their circle had started when they’d already entwined their hearts with the circle of life. Stupid of him to only grieve about what was taken instead of prizing all that was given. Stupid to have tried to kill her imprint in his life. To kill his heart. Stupid to not have relived her; relived them through him. Moaning in loss always brought pain. But cherishing memories always brought peace. Brought tears of the forgotten laughter of an old joke. Stupid to have left their time incomplete. Their forever midway. He was stupid to have only seen that the Sea took her and not see what it returned.