IN WHICH LOSS HAS ME, MRS.HOT, AT A LOSS FOR WORDS.
Nikos and I spent the rest of our days together as if we both had one week left to live. If the previous time had been blissful, these final moments were beyond profound. He continued to beg me to marry him, but I was adamant that his future, one with children, shouldn’t be with me.
The day before I was to leave, we had taken a late afternoon nap, as usual, made love and showered together. As we got dressed, the air was thick with sadness. The plan was to take his motorcycle to pick up dinner and wine, and have it while watching the sunset from our favorite cliff.
As we sped off from the hotel, I held onto him tightly as I had done so many times before. But this time I buried my face in his shoulder, deeply inhaling his familiar scent, intent on memorizing it.
While we had dinner, we looked silently at the sunset, neither of us capable of pretending we were happy, since we knew it was for the last time.
“I almost forgot!” Nikos said suddenly, brightening up. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a handful of shimmering 18k gold. It was two chains, one thicker than the other, and some kind of charm with two loops at the top.
He held the charm up to me, a flat circle with designs in it, with a curved cut down the middle, the two sides still attached. I didn’t understand it at first, but as I looked closely I realized half was a semicircular sun, the other half a crescent moon. The design was ingenious.
“Moonlight,” he said as he snapped the charm into its two pieces, “this moon is for you.” With that he slipped the moon onto the thinner of the two chains, and fastened it around my neck. It fell perfectly over my heart chakra.
I was touched beyond words. I picked up the sun part of the charm.
“Let me,” I said, choking the words out through the lump in my throat. I threaded the thicker chain through the sun charm’s loop. He bent his head down as I fastened the chain around his neck. Just as mine had, it fell exactly over his heart center.
Simultaneously, we each touched the charm on the other’s chest, our eyes glued to each other’s.
“Sunlight,” I murmured.
“Moonlight,” his whispered. “One cannot exist without the other.”
Unquestionably the most romantic, poignant moment of my entire life.
The next day just before sunset, Nikos and I stood at the ferry dock, wrapped in each other’s arms for the last time. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t imagine being without him, or his scent — on a whim, I asked for the long sleeved dress shirt he was wearing, the green and white striped one which matched his eyes.
Immediately, Nikos unbuttoned it, wordlessly staring at me intently, with that same hot, searing look he’d given me our first night together. He put his shirt over my shoulders and hugged me so tight I couldn’t breathe. His heart was beating so fast. I tried to memorize that sound, too, as I’d been memorizing everything about him.
As the boat left Santorini for Athens, I clung to the railing, locked in a stare with Nikos on the dock, both of us crying. As the sun finally sank into the sea, we still didn’t let go of each other’s gaze, even when we were distant specks. Only darkness, and the stars coming out, erased each other in a cruel finality.
For once, this smart aleck has nothing funny to say.