The beach was drenched in the early morning light of the summer sun that rode high upon a chariot of fluffy, white clouds floating in the sky. The beams danced and smiled at all those below, picking out the thousand golden hues of the sandy beach and running gaily across the gentle waves of the sea.
Brian watched from the rocky pinnacle he had seated himself upon. He could feel the sunlight upon his skin, tingling him and filling him with beautiful warmth. He raised his head and stared up at the sky above before lowering his head again.
His eye stung after countless tears that had left them red and swollen. “Karine,” he whispered to himself. He looked out across the water, the waves lapping peacefully at the honey coloured shore. He thought of her in the rain, their hair wet and tangled but their skin burning at the other’s touches.
She was gone. Her promise had been to never touch him again if he chose not to be with her on that final night. He had been pulled from bliss by Nick’s arms where tears and fear had covered him in victory. He had been unable to think or choose…
When he finally had fallen into a troubled sleep, she had not been there to welcome him. There had been nothing but a vague collection of strange images. A normal dream.
She was gone.
He cradled his head in his arms away from the light. The tears had stricken his cheeks with red trails and his arms ached while his heart hummed in a lonely lament.
“Brian,” a voice said from behind him quietly.
Brian raised his head but did not turn. “Go away,” he whispered hatefully.
“I just wanted to save you,” Nick whispered helplessly.
Brian watched a wave rise and fall and listened to the soothing sound. He thought of the waterfall that used to spill into the pool when he was with Karine and then he was forced to discontinue that thought as he felt his heart rising and trying to burst in spasms of pain. “Don’t talk to me.”
He could remember what it felt as the pain and confusion began to drift away. In that second he had known what was right. He thought of the last kiss he had shared with her and the taste of strawberries that she had left lingering upon his lips.
“She was killing you! She was taking you away!” Nick cried desperately.
Brian finally stood up and whirled around to confront his friend. “You understand nothing!” he snapped. “It was my choice! My choice!” He looked away for a moment. “It was my choice, but you didn’t let me choose! You were too afraid that I would leave you! You are so selfish!”
“Brian, I care about you!” Nick said close to tears. “We all do! We were worried and you didn’t know what you wanted! I saw your face, I heard your voice yesterday! You were almost glad I stopped you!”
Brian shook his head. “You made me confused. I had made my choice but you made me confused! It wasn’t easy you know! Why did you stop me Nick? It was my dream and you took it away!”
“What was I supposed to do?” Nick said, dribble of water running down his cheeks. “Just let you fade and die?”
“You didn’t understand!”
“You should have explained!”
Brian’s eyes narrowed. “I tried to explain, but you wouldn’t let me. You just kept rambling on about her being a witch. Well you were wrong! She let me choose! She did not want to take me away but I chose it! I loved her! I loved her so much.” His voice was beginning to crumble and crack with sobs. “Love like that only comes once in a lifetime, and only to some lucky few. You wouldn’t let me take it!”
He turned again and stared back at the sea, just as the sun glided a few beams over the surface to give off a dazzling display of rolling hues and sparkles. He sobbed slightly and a tear split the light into thousands of little glimmers in his eye. He placed his hands to his face. “We’re finished! Backstreet is over!”
He was crying again. He had thought that he was raw inside and that there were no tears left but here they were.
“So you’re prepared to lose us as well as her?” Nick shouted. “I’m sorry!” he screamed. “I’m sorry I took you away from her but I was trying to do what was best! I didn’t know! I saw you dying and I wanted to save you! I’m so sorry!” Nick was sobbing, his voice catching on sniffles and chokes.
Brian turned, his chest aching at the sight of Nick’s face and the tears that coated it. He remembered crying once himself when his last girlfriend had walked out… he remembered breaking down while Nick held him close.
He looked out to the sea once more and thought of her. ‘You love them.’
He closed his eyes at the memory of her voice and then he was running to Nick, sobbing as he fell into those arms. Nick gave a slight cry and held him tightly, his arms wrapping about his friend. Brian pressed his face against Nick’s warm jersey, drying his tears on the thick fabric while the sun danced about them.
“I’m sorry,” Brian murmured. “I’m sorry I scared you.”
Nick shook his head. “No Brian, I’m sorry for what I did.”
Brian turned and looked at the beach below. The smooth water was rolling in great, tantalising waves of joy before lightly teasing the sands by touching them ever so lightly, almost like a lover tentatively kissing their partner. The sun brought out every shade of the beach so that a carpet of gold stretched out below him, waiting for him to step out onto it and return to life.
It was beautiful.
The breeze was light and warm and did a wonderful duty of blowing the sunlight against his skin. He hadn’t appreciated these sensations before but now he was loving every single one. He could smell the salt of the sea that reflected the sun and hear the melody of the whispering waves. So beautiful…
“Brian, your mom called this morning,” Nick said finally.
His mother. Brian blinked a few times, memories beginning to return as if the had never left him. He had a family, a family that loved him, a family that had fought to keep him alive as a five year old child. He smiled at the thought of speaking with her.
He turned back to Nick and nodded. “Okay.”
Nick smiled at him and draped an arm over Brian’s shoulders. “Let’s go,” he said softly.
Brian returned the smile and found that it was easy to do. He had thought he would never feel the curving of his lips again but here he was. Life did not end after all.
“Nick?” he said.
“Maybe you did the right thing.”