Our Daughter Laments the Past
“The name we agreed on — Lily Azure.”
Sarah wasn’t looking at me. I wasn’t looking at her. I could see her, even when I couldn’t see her — long black hair, blowing around in the warm wind off the coast that summer in Maine; rainforest jade eyes that I first noticed at the company Christmas party all those years ago, eyes that I would gladly drown in; her smile like a dying star. She was tall and willowy, and she moved with an effortless grace. It was the way that actresses and dignitaries hopelessly attempted to walk, tripping over their silent egos, instead of gliding around the room, haunting everyone they passed. I had told her that, on our first date. The way she smiled, I knew that it meant something to her. I used to know a lot of things about her. Right now, I knew she wasn’t smiling. I knew her hands were at her side, the way that my hands were also at my side.
“What about it?”
I wasn’t smiling either, and because I was not looking at Sarah, I could also not look at the dark, grey clouds overhead. There was a storm coming in today, possibly within an hour or two. The wind picked up on the shore where we were standing, slicing our faces, and carving a line onto them where our smiles used to live. It was March, which in New England meant it was still cold when the sun was gone. Billowing towers of grey stretched out across the ocean.
“It’s a lovely name.”
These gloves aren’t doing anything for the cold. I remember when Sarah got these for my birthday a couple of years ago. I’m not even sure this is the same lifetime. It feels a lot longer ago than that. I need to box up this scarf. It’s too bad; it was my favorite. The jacket too. She had told me that charcoal had made me look more distinguished. I feel like a rock. I’ll have to find a new favorite I guess.
I’m not moving my hands into my pockets until she does. I can learn to be a statue; I could talk like a human, but I would still be a statue.
“She would’ve been beautiful. Like her mother.”
I wasn’t looking anywhere. If I was, I didn’t see anything. There was water in front of me, a myriad of waves beating endlessly against the helpless sand. Not looking at the waves, I saw the horizon. Infinite, distant and looking like an imminent storm. Her hands stayed put. Mine clenched nervously. It was a trap, of course. She didn’t flinch.
She had an upward inflection. There should have been a question mark after my name, if that was still my name — do I have to change my name, now that I’m not the same person? In the distance, the thunder made its presence known. The wind rose, pushing my eyes closed for a few moments. I am the Colossus of Rhodes; I am a monument of ice and steel; I am the height of Everest — I will not look at her.
More than anything else, I wanted to let go of my hands, to stop not-looking at Sarah, to look into her wonderful, enchanting summer-grass eyes, to hold onto her like she is the cliff that I am falling off of and kiss her until I collapsed into nothing, until I turned into sand right there on the beach — the beach where we had been spending every summer for the past four years, and until very recently, had planned on spending many more. It didn’t happen though. It couldn’t happen now.
Neither of us spoke.
“How far do you think it goes out? The ocean I mean.”
Her voice had brought me back, from wherever it was that I had been. I put my hands into my pockets, too cold and too tired to keep this up. I turned my head and studied her — she was more beautiful than I had remembered. Our eyes met.
“I’m not sure, honestly.”
She turned away from me, back out towards the water. Her hands went into her pockets; very quietly, very subtly.
“It ends you know — somewhere.”
I didn’t know where she was looking, but I saw it too.