She was in front of me.
This wasn't a dream, a hallucination, or heaven; this was reality, and this reality wore a yellow t-shirt and a black pair of shorts. Her black hair was in a long pony tail and her bronzed skin whispered its summer memories. I wanted to touch her, feel her, have her; but first we needed to talk.
Her parents had lifted her punishment and the only rule was that she was not to sleep with me anymore in the house, and that was no problem for me.
She explained, after sitting down on the hot sand, feet close enough to the water so that the waves could tickle her toes, that after I had left the house her father had grounded her. She told me of her nightmares and how much she missed me. I told her of the emptiness I felt after not being able to be with her again and she gave me a sad smile that nearly broke my heart.
I playfully pulled on her ponytail and asked her about her visit to Habana Vieja, and when she asked me how I knew I recalled to her each painful word that Claire had used against me. She winced and I countered it by complimenting her on her bravery. She'd smiled and waved her hand saying that, "It was just an act of adrenaline!"
She amazed me and I told her so, causing her to blush in her own unique and ridiculously cute way. I told her that I had overheard her parents discussing our situation and I made a slight comment about a guy named Jacob that they kept mentioning. Her silence told me that I had approached a barrier that she had built up a long time ago around her. I felt my words walking on glass as I asked her to tell me about him, if she was ready. I thought she would say no, just like I would have answered if someone asked me about Manuel, but she only nodded.
Silence, occasionally broken by seagulls, brought us closer and by the time that she was ready her head was resting on my shoulder. The sun was like a spot light as she told me her story about the first man that she loved. I felt our breathing slow down until we had found our own unique pattern as I heard her speaking out her lonely truths. Her suicide attempt, her anger, her sadness, her loneliness, but mostly her guilt. When she was done I could see tears running down her face out of the corners of my eyes, their shimmering essence drawing me in.
"I dreamed about him a few nights ago." She admitted.
"Yeah, he told me to get my act together and go to you."
I found myself smiling with sadness as I realized what it meant to let go of someone that you could no longer be with in this life. He truly had loved her and it only showed more intensely in his need to make her happy. He had been no selfish soul.
"I love you Avery." My words came out without my thinking and I felt a faint tug at my heart as she failed to utter those three words to me right away.
I heard her sniff softly, then: "I love you too Alex."
My response for her acceptance of me was a kiss that I hoped portrayed everything that I felt, despite the fact that we weren't going to be together forever. She kissed me back, her own emotions and unspoken words intermingling with mine.