Footsteps come up behind me, crunching across the gravel. Koso crouches down beside me, but doesn’t say a word. For a moment, I consider telling him about the Speaker, about the instructions I gave Nicola to bring his father here. His face, though, is too wistful, too full of remembrance. I acknowledge him with a look, then stare out at the rumbling sea, letting him fade to a silhouette in my peripheral vision. I often wonder whether Koso’s soul came here with us.
Music comes from him; Koso is humming. The tune isn’t what I would expect, it’s light and bouncy and in a major key. Keeping the music with him, Koso gets up and walks to the water, slapping against the sand. A wave rolls in, and he dips his hands under, coming up with his palms cupped together. He comes toward me, still with a tune bouncing through the air, then releases his hands, throwing seawater in my face and all over my clothes.
“Koso! What are you doing!?”
He is laughing, not trying to contain himself, such an unfamiliar happening. I’m soaked, dripping wet and, after only a moment, already freezing cold. I get up and run to the ocean to get water of my own, not even caring that I get my pants wet to the knee. He darts away from me, and when I throw the water, only a few drops hit him. He throws sand into the air, retaliation, and it lands on both of us, now lodged in my wet hair. I only stare at him.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
He hadn’t stopped laughing since he began this escapade, nonsense for a thirty year old man, but now he gets quiet, and a look of such intense longing comes over his features that I want to look down and away.
“I’m sorry, Tomas. I wasn’t thinking.”
I stop looking at him. There is such pain; his eyes are full as the sea, the moon. The chill is a cold wind with the wetness, and it hurts, this hurts. He goes on,
“You only looked so much like your brother for a moment there.”
He hangs his head, raindrop tears dripping onto the sand. I swallow my pride, his pride, my stupid independence, and go to him. I put a hand on his shoulder, and mercifully he does not look up at me.
“Go home,” I tell him, “I can handle it here today. It’s a slow day anyway, Benson and I will be fine.” I am talking, babbling on, not knowing what to say. He nods, then looks up at the clear sky. I can see everything in his moon-full eyes, everything that I can and can’t name.
I feel like crying, though I, too, am grown. Everything has gone well, all things considered, but this generation will never be healed. I stand at the oceanside until I forget myself, until Benson finds me out by the rising tide, alone. I tell him what has happened, and he brings me inside. I pour myself water, wishing for the morning’s tea, for rejuvenation of any sort. It does not come. Benson helps how he can, double-checking our inventory so I don’t have to. We mean to deliver the baking goods first, before they spoil. We load up crates to our one small cart and begin the first round.