The pier was cold, and getting colder with the windchill. The silver sky stretched out for miles over the restless ocean. Six months ago, her hair would have been whipping around her, the long strands of copper curls silently stealing the scent of the ocean. She kept her arms crossed over her chest tightly, less against the chill than to keep him from reaching out to her.
"We can't keep doing this," he said. He wouldn't stop watching her and it made her uncomfortable. "Sometimes situations are bigger than the people involved. Why do you fight this?"
"Because we're being foolish! We're rushing in, and you know what they say about that." She could feel the mist spray her bare feet. They should probably be heading inside. The wind was nearly a hurricane in her ears.
Even without looking at him, she could hear the frown in his voice. He said, "only fools rush in?" If he said what he was thinking, he would have said, now look who is being foolish but that was not what this conversation was about. Instead, he said, "don't do this, Eden. Don't push me away."
"I'm stepping back from the cliff, Daniel. Don't ask me to jump head first into this. You know where that's gotten us before."
"Don't play the victim card, not now," he fidgetted, switching the position of his legs, stretching out his tingling extremeties. "This isn't just about the cancer, and you know it."
"How can you be so flippant?" She was angry now, her voice practically a hiss between her teeth. Her feelings were hurt, raw from the last three or four months of fighting between them, but he couldn't console her.
"How can you be so cowardly, now, of all times?" He watched her face, waiting for her to turn and meet his gaze. She never did, only clenched and unclenched her jaw in silent fury. "I don't understand it, Eden. You've overcome everything that has been thrown in your path your entire life. Except this. Except this one, insignificant thing."
"A brain tumor is insignificant, Daniel? And you wonder why I think we're fools," there was acid in her voice still, but it was fading. She was losing her ground. Beneath her light shawl, she began shivering.
"It is insignificant compared to us, compared to what we are and what we could be. What we have been. It seems a trivial thing to sacrifice us for."
"Who are you to talk to me about the impact this should have on me? When was the last time you were looking death in the face, huh? Do tell." She counted the waves that crashed on the rocky pier.
His silence stretched on. After a while, she stopped expecting him to respond at all.
"There's something I've been less than honest about."
"Surprise, surprise." She rolled her shoulders dismissively.
"The scar, my rebuilt jaw, my stay in the hospital... I didn't get them by breaking up a riot at the penitentiary." He paused, taking a deep breath as if to find the strength to push forward. "I tried to shoot myself after we split up."
Aside from the uncontrollable shivering, Eden froze. She realized a great many things, standing on that pier just before the biggest storm of the decade. She realized she had been running from herself, from her cancer, from her slowly decaying body. She hated to admit it, but while he was not willing to exist without this, she had been running as far and as fast as she could to escape what was worth living for. Being afraid to experience it was dooming them both to empty deaths.
He waited for a response, desperately searching her silhouette for a sign of her reaction. Any sign. He found none. "I got lucky that I miscalculated the recoil..." His discomfort was growing the longer she remained silent. Clearing his throat, he said, "could you say something?"
She said, "what do you want me to say?" She meant, "how am I supposed to explain myself?"
Rising to his feet, Daniel brushed off the backseat of his jeans and shrugged even though she couldn't see him. "I guess that's all you needed to say. I'll go stay with my brother until I can catch a flight to Minnesota."
She couldn't let him leave, of course, so she said, "Don't go back to Minnesota."
He said, "that's all you needed to say."