It was the perfect day for a stroll along the beach. There were clear skies above me, the sun was blazing and the cool breeze was refreshing to say the least. I was walking along the tide line when I suddenly saw a guy sitting alone on the sand beneath some palm trees, seemingly looking out towards the horizon.
He was ... gorgeous. His hair looked soft and almost glowed in the sunshine, and he had a great figure, from what I could see of him: neither fat nor too muscly yet, saying that, quite athletically built. He had a great tan - which wasn't surprising: this was Australia after all - and his skin was ruddy in the bright light. He looked tall - taller than me - but right now, his shoulders were hunched in ... resignation? Dejection? I couldn't tell but I didn't have much time to think about his mood before I was overcome by the desire to approach him. Attractive guys and lonely beaches seemed the ideal circumstances for a little bit of flirting.
I walked up to him and said "Hey, Mr Great-Looker," in my most girly, flirtatious voice. The guy didn't appear to notice me, or even hear me for that matter, which was a bit odd because I was only standing a few inches away from him. He continued to gaze out across the ocean and, for the first time, I saw that he was unhappy. I sat down beside him.
Unhappy wasn't the word: he was depressed. His hair, though great in colour and thickness, was tousled, either as if he'd just got out of bed or run a hand through it frequently in distress. There were dark circles under his eyes which made him look slightly haggard despite the fact he had a clean, handsome face. I looked into his unseeing eyes and saw devastation there. His pupils were slightly dilated and I felt like I was falling into black holes. The longing and wistfulness of his expression made me want to fall on the ground and bawl. Then his eyes focused on me, this girl before him who was attracted by and sympathetic for him: the lone, ... broken stranger.
I found I wanted to kiss him but also wanted to comfort him.
His eyes were wide and vulnerable, and something like wild desperation filled them.
"Jade?" he asked excitedly, his frown disappearing to be replaced by a broad smile - he looked elated.
Before I could say anything, he was running his fingers through my hair, looking awed and ecstatic. That felt incredibly good and the proximity of his carefree smile and great looks rendered me momentarily breath-taken. These seconds of silence seemed to confirm to the guy that I was indeed this ‘Jade' girl and he threw his arms around me saying "I knew you wouldn't leave me. Not after four years. It just isn't possible to end a relationship after so long - we know each other inside out! Whatever you had with that English guy, it was nothing compared to us - you and I, we're soul mates!"
There was no doubt in my mind that this guy was crazy but I didn't care: strong arms were around me, that shoulder in front of me was perfect to snuggle into and my arms would easily wrap around his waist ... Stop! What was I thinking? I couldn't let this poor, irrational guy think I was his ex (as I had figured out the situation). I felt a pang of pity for him at the same time as I felt ashamed of myself. I gently pushed the painfully desirable guy away and said, "I'm not Jade; I'm Violet."
The guy blinked and all the pain and sadness returned to his face.
"So you are," he said.
His voice was deep, I had noticed, and I felt like I was falling again as I imagined it caressing me during a moment we were alone together.
"Are you okay?"
It was a question I should have asked long time ago and the answer was obvious but I felt that, for some reason, it ought to be asked. To show my care and concern, to convey my anxiety for his condition.
"My girlfriend dumped me after we'd been going out for four years," he replied quietly and suddenly, he was crying.
I was alarmed. A guy my age crying? But I didn't stop to consider the infrequency of such an occurrence: I hugged him, saying "It's okay. Don't cry."
Some deeper part of me couldn't bear to see such a strong, controlled guy break down. But, part of me pointed out, he wasn't strong and controlled - that was just what you assumed because of his height and build. He definitely needed help at the moment.
I held the guy tightly and talked to him as if he were a child: a toddler at the fair who had lost their older sibling or parent.
"Sh, it's okay. Don't cry."
Oh please stop crying, I mentally added, resisting the urge to cry myself. That, I told myself sternly, would only make matters worse. This guy needs comfort and support: a shoulder to cry on. He must be going through hell at the moment.
I began to rub his shoulders, barely aware I was doing it. The guy's arms came around my waist.
"Don't cry," I murmured. "It's all going to be okay."
"It's not," the boy told me. "Jade's the air I breathe. She's the sun and the wind and the rain: everything I need to live. She's as breath-taking as the stars, as dependable and loyal as a golden retriever and her soul is pure like untouched snow."
I changed tactic: now stroking the guy's back with one hand and arm with the other.
"It's okay," I said and I kept repeating that until eventually, the guy let go of me and shifted back, standing. I rose to my own feet.
"Sorry," the guy said. "I shouldn't be so cut up: it was what she wanted - that was the path she chose. It's just ... she was my reason for existing, you know. I feel incomplete without her. I really thought that she was the one."
I didn't know what to say. It was obvious the guy still loved the girl a lot so a comment, though intended to cheer him up, about her obvious imperfection would scarcely be appreciated.
"I'm sorry for what she did to you," I murmured finally. "It must have been tough on you."
"I just couldn't believe how quickly she'd forgotten me. When she dumped me, I found out she'd been seeing another guy - she'd been away for a while. I was shocked."
"She sounds horrible," I said.
"No," the guy said quietly. "I wouldn't say that about her. Despite what she did, despite what she's put me through, she's the girl I've been in love with for the past four years."
With that, he turned and slowly started walking up the beach.
"Wait," I said, following him. "I don't know your name." It was a lame excuse but I couldn't let him get away.
"Zack," he replied, without stopping or turning.
"Please don't go! We can ... talk a bit more. Tell me more about Jade."
"She's an angel; that's all you need to know."
"Will I see you again?" I asked sadly.
Zack turned and shrugged. "I don't know."
He walked off, leaving me standing alone in the middle of the beach.
I wanted to be in a relationship with Zack but I wanted to help him first, out of genuine concern for his welfare. But what was helpful? Keeping a distance and leaving him to get over Jade or encouraging him to open up to me? I didn't know what to do. I did not have a clue what to do.