And so the lovely girl who walked innocently along the shore … seeking beautiful shells, savoring the warmth of the sun on her bare shoulders, came to meet a man … he passed by, with a soft toothy smile he urged her to stop walking and to sit with him … for “just a while,” he told her. So the girl, somewhat under a spell by his charm and ease, sat. She sat and sat and the day grew long, the sun burned her skin and her mouth was dry from thirst, but she sat with him … there on the shore … the waves every now and then splashing on her toes and chilling her, reminding her that she needed to go … but she stayed … and the sun set … and they talked and talked, and it was as if he had known her forever and ever, he melted into her and she thought that this was what love was … it was not when someone just walked up and came to you, but rather, was when it felt like love had been there all along, like you were just waiting for the presence of it. Here it was for her, warming her soul, and she laughed, and smiled and spoke of things that she told no one ever before, and then she had to go, she just had to go … and he told her not to go … he said he didn’t want it to end … but she left, and he left, knowing it didn’t end, knowing there had to be more … and more … and so the next day the girl awoke to another day, the same as any other day only now she knew him, and now there was peace in her soul, she ached to see him again, so she walked along the shore wondering if he would be looking for her again, and he was and there, she saw him with his strong arms and handsome everything, she could hardly hold back, she yearned to run to him, into his arms where she knew she belonged. But she didn’t. She didn’t because she barely knew him and she was frantic with emotion and confusion … why did she come again? Why did she need him so? And he came to her … and as if he had been in the same thoughts, as if he had known all that she knew, he wrapped his arms around her, never hesitating, never using caution, he simply took her, knowing she was his. The girl’s blond hair was soft and salty and he took it in as if it were his last breath, he tasted her skin as he softly kissed her neck, he pressed her close and they yearned to be together, there were no more words … no need to speak, they looked into each other’s eyes and everything was explained, everything unspoken was said … a tear streamed down her cheek and he kissed it away, together in one another’s arms there was no need for anything else, life circled around them, the waves crashed, the wind blew, barefoot people walked by … the two heard nothing, felt nothing except the oneness they shared. The girl thought to herself that this was not real, too good to be true, and so she thought and thought and he just wanted to hold her … and she let him, because she wanted to feel it and because, she only wanted his happiness and with her, he seemed so happy. Their love became lust or lust became love and nothing mattered and the day became dark as night settled and the ocean was lit by a moon she swore to herself she had not seen or truly looked at for years, and there were stars, millions of sparkling, dangling stars hanging and streaming and celebrating gently in the sky … their sky. But in all of the peace and the calm and the lust and love and souls intertwining, there was a fear that settled in because as he held her and kissed her and wanted her, he spoke of another world … a world outside of their world on the shore, the one where it was just the two them, the only world she could see anymore … it hurt her when he spoke of this other world, he told her that though he loved her and wanted and needed her, he couldn’t, he shouldn’t, her pink lips fell to a sad pout, a whimper of pain let out from deep inside her and she couldn’t stop the three words that escaped her mouth, “I love you,” she said … and as the words fell and landed on him, he changed, in an instant, her fear became his and his other world beat down the door to theirs and in came his life and his worries and his troubles and all that was once theirs and good and perfect, was gone. And as he looked at her, through her, he held her, crushed her in his arms and she didn’t care, the pain was in some way pleasing to her … because she knew soon there would be nothing from him and even the pain she felt was better than the nothing that was sure to come. He held her and took her slowly into the ocean, her ankles felt weak as the cold dark water hit her, and then it was on her thighs and he kept holding her and kept taking her deeper and deeper and the stars and moon were suddenly gone to her, she felt the darkness but in him, no matter where she was, if she were with him there was a light, there was no fear, so she walked, and as the sand at the bottom of the ocean became hard for her to reach and as the water got deeper, he held her and squeezed her and kissed her and at one moment he breathed his own warm breath into her and he felt her lips, smelled her skin, touched her body one last time and then, with no words, only the pain in his eyes, he looked at her one last time, he looked through her and there was a tear in his eye as he allowed the girl, the innocent girl who walked along the beach, just feeling the sun warm her shoulders, to go deeper and deeper until he finally let her go, knowing all along that no one was there to save her, knowing that he had to get back to his world, the one without her … knowing that if he couldn’t have her then no one could … so he let her go … and her blond hair tangled into the water and her baby blue eyes stared at him in confusion and she didn’t struggle, she just drifted because she knew … she knew without him it didn’t matter … his smile was gone and his arms and heart weak as he watched her sink, but he found himself just watching … and as he saw the last of her precious body be taken under, he turned and simply swam away … safely back to shore, safely back to his world, the one he forgot so easily, for just a moment.