It seems that the evening distills moments to their fullest capacity, removing the pomp and leaving us the complete essence of their wonder. Too, the proximity of water appears to bring these moments to being, the ethereal quality of it making magic happen on a daily, or rather nightly, basis.
And so it is once again at night, by the water, that this moment takes place...
Dusk had fallen, as had the sun. It had dipped its brilliance into the Juan de Fuca Straight, rolling down mountains, cresting the towers of pine, and extending fingers into the quiet water.
We paid homage to it that night, our small fire brilliant in the midnight stillness, the smooth stones of the beach heated slightly and warm against our bare feet. It was sheer West Coast. It was comforting, simple. It was perfect.
And now, the embers cooling and the night setting in with a yawn, we found ourselves echoing the flame, the beauty of both lights.
I sat on the beach, set into the stones, back pressed against a lonely piece of driftwood. Lonely, juste comme moi. True, I was with a crowd of three others, but two of us were playing third wheel to the remaining pair. They sat together, almost as one, at the other end of the log, inseparable. Lovebirds, for the moment.
No, I was alone for another reason. My babushka had left the night before. Permanently. I knew if was coming, we all did. But I felt, somehow, wrong. I didn't shed a tear when I was told. Bottled it up, just like I do with everything else. Maybe it was because I hadn't seen her at her worst. She didn't want me to. Wanted me to remember her for who she was, not the frail thing she had become. It was sad, truly.
It was at that moment that I chose to tear up. Shrouded in darkness, moon hiding behind a stand of firs, orange embers gasping for life. That's when it hit. Full force.
And that's when he hit. Subtly, though.
He crept up behind me, sat on the driftwood, legs stretched out at my sides. He knew, I guess, what I was going through at that moment. He cared enough to try and be a comfort, awkward as it was.
So wrong. So right. A deadly cliché, but potently apt in this situation.
His arms slowly tightened around my shoulders, tighter and closer than the night around us, warmer than the flames we had brought to life hours ago.
I relaxed; sighed. This was it. A perfect moment, caught in the midst of bitter imperfection. Funny how opposites attract in nature.
He whispered something in my ear. I can't remember what it was, but it made me smile, made me forget the sadness buried deep in my gut.
We sat like this for what seemed like forever, his arms around me, chin resting on my shoulder, staring out at the Straight and the stars.
Why can't this happen more often?
But then he broke it, tainted it. It was bound to happen, though I still wish it never did. I can't blame it all on him; that would be unfair. I played a part, I was an accomplice.
"I love you," he whispered in my ear.
"I love you, too," came my reply. But I was speaking to someone else.