IN WHICH THE RAPTURE GETS RUPTURED.
It was early evening. We’d gone for a swim and were sitting stretched out on the edge of Perissa beach. As the waves came in and washed gently up under our legs, the black volcanic sand glistened like caviar. The mother of pearl sky at sunset was streaked with a palette of pastels, like a Baroque painting.
Nikos and I were holding hands, which we always did whenever we were within two feet of each other, anywhere, anytime, often, even, when we slept.
All of a sudden, the steady heartbeat sound of the waves was broken. Bringing my hand up to his mouth to kiss, he looked at me with puppy eyes. “So. Do you have your answer?” Now, his eyes changed from cute, to serious.
The moment I had dreaded had come. There was no way around it, I’d have to rip the bandaid off. It was unavoidable.
I took a deep breath. “You are my Sunlight, but I can’t marry you, Nikos.” I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes watered up.
“What?” he exclaimed, his eyes wide, his hand squeezing mine till it hurt.
Nikos knew as much as I that we were made for each other. We’d known it the first night, and the previous four weeks together, inseparable, had only confirmed it, over and over.
A tear rolled down my cheek, then another. Fortunately, I had waterproof mascara on, or this scene would’ve been even uglier. Unavoidable is one thing, but unattractive, unhot? Never.
I explained how he needed to have kids, I saw it in him from the very beginning. It was unlucky and unfair that we were not in the same place at the same time in life, but maybe some day we would look back and understand. Understand why we experienced this epic love, one which couldn’t last.
Nikos’s expression was one I’d never seen before, a combination of shock and pain. Wiping my tears away, he took my face in his hands and kissed my cheeks and mouth, cutting off my words. Pulling back, he pleaded with me that it didn’t matter, nothing mattered except for us being together. Nothing could keep us apart, he said, shaking his head, his brow furrowed.
But I was adamant — I was wiser. I pictured Father’s Days when I’d see this same face I loved so much, in pain, or even just random moments around children, children who wouldn’t be his. I couldn’t bear cheating him out of a life experience so integral to his happiness.
I buried my head in his chest, sobbing. He put his arms tight around me. He was sobbing, too.
Tough love, in more ways than one.