It happened yesterday, more than a week after they arrived. In the pale amber light, her searching eyes betrayed her interest on what she wanted for dinner. Her gesture was perfunctory, if not pure deadpan, and nowhere was it able to obscure the terse sentiment clawing its way from her heart to her throat. I whisked the thought aside. I got closer to her. The moment I felt my hand brush her hair, I closed my eyes. For a second, there was darkness, a momentary prelude to an unwelcome flashback; I rarely dwell on my forgotten histories. But then I found myself at this shoreline seven summers into the past, the tender waves rolling under the bright sun, unmaking themselves as they surrender to the undertow, flailing their ever so fragile surface against the air and sunlight as they sail through the Pacific and elsewhere, treading the infinite blue like tendrils that drape behind a carpet of retreating shadows. The sea met the sand at our feet, the lovers that we were at the time, two people united by their differences in more ways than one can imagine, and since that summer day she’s all there has ever been in my dreams.
I opened my eyes. She was looking at me, herself looking surprised at what I did. Those eyes, I thought, they give me a sense of life, the way the clouds give stargazers a sense of the sky. Her glance, it finds its genesis in the humble promise of a gaze, continuing with every anxious beat as though her heart fears its own pulse and the feverish desire burning her from within. I held her hand. This must be how it feels when the earth receives the benediction of the rain on a summer day, the way the dry fields are quenched of their thirst by the first dew before the awakening of the morning sun.
Her eyes were now fixed on my hand holding hers.
The word struck me like a dagger stabbing my chest. With her eyes now cast down, I figured that guilt has begun to find its way to her heart, which further estranged her from who I am to her, the only woman I have loved like this.
“It’s never wrong to hold on to the only life we have,” I said.
And in the silence that followed I swear I could hear her heart. The way she smiled, I figured life could still be as complete as this night.
Her husband finally arrived after dropping off their children at her cousin’s house. He sat beside her and said without batting an eyelash, “I’ve heard many things about you.”
So you did, I thought, so you did. Under the table, the weight of our seven summers missed: she and I still held hands. As I have promised to myself before, I will trap the universe in her heart. That night, I gave her the same promise.