Soledad Sanchez is in love with her best friend Brad Letsmith, only problem is that he doesn't know and she is too afraid to tell him. She also doesn't know if he feels the same way. The summer is big and holds promises that may end up being too big for the two of them.
It is a summer of tragedy, love in the strangest of places, and the finding of how to honestly and devotedly say "I love you" in four different ways.
I know how how to say I love you in four different languages.
I love you.
But even with this knowledge, this understanding that love is universal; known worldwide, this small, heart-rendering phrase escapes from me. Even though I know what it is, how it feels; how it hurts-- I can't seem to let it escape my mouth.
Today, everything is grim. The sky is an ironic dark grey with angry clouds that appear ready for a tantrum. The trees, swaying melodically with the late summer breeze, are like the helping hand of a soul that leaves us forever today. Even through all of this; through the pain and loss, I can't utter these words that could either break me with an everlasting loneliness or make me into something that I have only dreamt of.
The priest with greying hair and kind blue eyes looks upon us all, sitting in rows prettily set up on the lawn behind the church. If it were any other day I would probably let my eyes wander or try to catch a glimpse of whatever may lay around me. But today I am looking steadily at my hands, awaiting the next part of this day.
"Now all, please stand," the priest's gravelly voice enchants us, pulling us all to our feet. We look on, waiting like a pack of children for instructions. He starts to recite a memorized prayer before a bright, classically trained voice reaches my ears. Everyone seems to turn as one as I hear the coming footsteps. I close my eyes and look down, knowing that tears are escaping them. Finally, after a few heavy breaths I turn around.
"--it is just so unfortunate--"
"--so young and--"
"--I can't imagine what the family is going through."
Voices whisper around me, meshing with the sounds of the blowing trees. This was supposed to be our summer. No one expected this to happen. We were supposed to go on trips and find ourselves. But of course, events in our lives had different paths for us.
The beach, the mall, our favourite Starbucks--they all held promised memories, but those memories were shortened; unmade and destroyed in what we thought would be an everlasting summer.
Brad Letsmith, my best friend, walks morosely behind his mom and his older brother. His dark, blue-black hair gently blows in the breeze. He'd decided to make it grow out at the beginning of summer and now it is nearly halfway down his neck. His sharp features contrast with the dark emotions on his face and his light green eyes are downcast, trying to see nothing but the ground.
I move over one chair when he reaches my row at the front. My eyes catch the way the black suit perfectly fits around his lean figure, bringing out his toned arms from swimming and doing summer things with his other friends. At first, I wish that I could hold him, kiss him, and tell him that everything is going to be all right. But I contain myself, hold back my need and focus on his pain.
"Hey," I say softly, settling for a strong, quick hug instead. "Why don't we go by starbucks after this?"
I know that the best thing for Brad right now is a distraction. If he wallows too much in the hurt then I will lose him for several agonizing minutes. These days the darkness in him is too deep for me to swim through yet.
"Yeah," his voice is low, weak from crying. "That sounds good Sole."
We sit down and I look over at him. Small, silent tears are escaping from his nearly closed eyes. His cheeks are slightly blushed and the few freckles he has are almost hidden by the bags under his eyes. His shoulders are slumped and his back is slouched, showing his unwillingness to be connected to this world.
"Brad," I whisper to him, "I'll always be here."
I grab his hand and place it on my lap, holding it there protectively and silently praying that he will never let it go.