The setting sun shone bright over the edges of the lake. Crimson and gold hues lit up the entire landscape. Brady and I walked hand-in-hand towards the lake shore. We spread the blanket over the lush green grass that covered the ground and sat down. We both knew that we had a lot to say to each other, but time was running out.
And yet, I refused to bring up the topic. Instead I cuddled into his side, the same as I had done every day since we were fourteen years old and reveled in the comfort of his arms. He sighed contently and pulled me closer. We watched the fiery, golden orb as it descended over the glittering water of the lake and disappeared over the edge of the horizon. As beautiful as it was, at that moment, it felt like the personification of our relationship. Burning bright with a blazing inferno but rapidly descending into a dark abyss.
Brady straightened and reached out, switching on the camping light he’d brought along. I closed my eyes and breathed in the crisp evening air. I could feel him looking at me, but I refused to open my eyes.
“Kiara?” he coaxed.
I shook my head as he caressed my face with his hand. I didn’t want to accept what was happening. Looking at him would only make it more real. Maybe if I didn’t look at him, if we didn’t talk about it, then it would just turn out to be a nightmare. A lone tear slid down my face.
“Don’t cry, baby,” he said softly. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
“It’s all happening so fast. It feels like just yesterday when we went out on our first date and now…” my voice trailed off.
“And now I’m headed to Harvard and you’re headed to UCLA, I know,” he finished.
“I don’t have to go to UCLA. Maybe I can apply for a transfer.”
“Baby, you’ve dreamed about UCLA for years. Ever since we were little kids. And I’ve always wanted to go to Harvard.”
“I don’t want to be away from you. Please Brady, I’ll transfer to Harvard. We can get an apartment together and commute. We can start our life together.”
“Kiara, we’ve considered this. We both agreed that if one of us transferred to schools to be with the other, it would cause problems…between us. And that’s something I’m never going to chance. Giving up our dreams would make us resent each other, eventually.” Brady said.
I stood and walked over to the dark waters of the lake. Brady came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. I whirled around and threw my arms around him and buried my face into his chest. He rubbed my back as he whispered gently, “We’re going to be okay, baby. We’re going to make it. We’ll see each other everything chance that we get. I’ll come to California and when I’m not able to come, you’ll come to Harvard. We can do it.”
“Only fifty-eight percent of couple survive long distance relationship. What if we’re not amongst them?” I sobbed.
He cupped my face and smirked at me, “We’re the best couple I know, baby. If anyone can do it, then it’s us. Hell, we survived high school. What’s four years?”
I sniffled, wiping my tears with the back of my hand, “Yeah, what’s 4 years when compared to the rest our lives? You’re right. We can do it.”
He smiled tenderly at me, “Yes, we can. And do you know why? Because we love each it. And love conquers all. Even a distance of three thousand miles.”
I laughed through my tears. Trust Brady to try and break the tension with a joke.
He lowered his head to my height and placed a soft kiss on my lips. I pressed myself into him, determined not to let the moment end. Tomorrow we would be heading towards our futures. But we still had today.
“I love you, Brady. Forever,” I murmured against his lips.
“I love you too, baby. You’re the only one for me. You’ve had my heart since that very first date of ours four years ago. College is just going to be a blip on our radar. We’re going to have eternity together after that. Don’t you dare forget that, okay?” Brady said as he held me in his arms.
“Okay.” I agreed. I took a deep breath against his neck, desperately trying to memorize his scent. I placed my palms on his chest and took comfort in his steady heartbeat.
“Now let’s get out of here. It’s getting really cold,” he said as he tugged on my arm lightly.
“You go on ahead. I just want to spend a few more minutes here.”
“Are you okay?” he asked me as he peered questioningly into my eyes.
“Yeah, go ahead. I’ll meet you by the car.”
“Okay, I’m going to be right there, okay? Take your time.” He turned around. I heard him gather our things and walk towards the car.
I walked over to the water’s edge. The same lake where Brady and I used to play when we were kids. The same lake where we’d had our first date four years ago. Four years felt like a lifetime. He was my first real boyfriend. The only boy I’d ever loved. The only boy I ever would.
Dropping to my knees, I trailed my hand gently through the water and watched as it rippled, distorting the reflection of the full moon.
We’d be okay. I had to believe that. Just like we had breached every obstacle that had come our way in the past, we’d get through this one too. Just like the sun, we’d be back, and our relationship would burn bright again.
“We’re going to make it. We’ll be okay.” I reaffirmed to myself. I knew that Brady couldn’t hear me, but maybe, just maybe, the universe would listen and grant my wish.