I look up, and he is already looking at me. His eyes never leave my face. He is waiting for me to react, and I just stare with my mouth hanging open like a guppy. Unable to process this information. Not wanting to believe it.
“I am sorry, Maive, I have to go and you…”
“And I have to stay, I will probably never leave”
“Sorry? I know. I just wish…..”
“I know even another day would be so……..nice”
We just stare at one another. Hoping that one of us can change something. Make it different.
“How could they move up your launch time so fast?”
“I don’t know, they told me it was urgent. Now that I am qualified, I have to go help with repairs”
“But they know I……they are even……..how could they……..”
I can longer get words out as my eyes are spilling over and I am fighting to stay upright. Kyle catches me as we slide to the ground. I look like a lunatic as I start to sob uncontrollably. But this is not really something new as more and more people have been recruited and sent to space. Many loved ones are sent out to far-off places to explore and change the world. Many are left behind to hope and wonder. To pray and wish for a tomorrow together again.
A lifetime and a second pass between us as I gather myself up and try to put on a brave face. Which earns me a smile as I must look ridiculous.
“What? Is that bad?”
“Your eyes are so red and puffy it looks like you may need an EpiPen at any moment”
I playfully hit his arm while leaving my hand there a little too long. Needing the reassurance that he is in front of me. That I am not dreaming. That I at least get to say goodbye. Before he ships off tomorrow. The gleam in his eyes, the slant of his nose, the wave of his hair. I commit them all to memory. My hands are tracing his features before I realize what I am doing, and he lets me touch him. He watches me tracing him, etching him into my forever memory.
“If I don’t come back….you…you”
“Hush, that is an impossibility. You will come back to me. You promised me a star remember”
I hit him again.
“Hey, don’t start that crap with me. My engineer to the stars”
And with that I am chasing him down the street, trying to hit him for the third time. He laughs as he runs and weaves away.
He turns around and takes me into a tight hug and we stay like that for a long while. The urge to cry again washes over me but I fight it. I will not let myself ruin these last moments with him. These last hours are precious and should be savoured like that first sip of a coffee from a barista who knows way too much about the beans and the country they come from.
“What do you want to do today? Your last day on earth?”
“My last day for now. Like you said. I’ll be back”
“Yes, for now. What would you like to do?”
“Make out like teenagers on a bench and then have sex in a public place”
He ducks out of range as I go to kick him this time.
“Omg can you not, and for real we don’t have much time before you need to pack and head to the spaceport”
“Let’s go on our”
“-first date again”
We laugh as we head towards the shore. Our first date was anything but magical. His car broke down and we ended up having fish and chips on the shore as a rainstorm rolled in. but I wouldn’t change it all. We talked for so long that my jaw got sore, and I couldn’t stop smiling. He was my soulmate, and he was being sent away to the stars. I chase him into the water to keep from being overwhelmed again. We race to the fish and chip shop and order our food giggling and out of breath. The seagulls get away with most of our chips and we throw some chips angrily at the birds, but it doesn’t really matter. The clouds roll in and the sea grows stormy. I know we have to part soon, but I cling onto Kyle holding his arm so tight he inhales at the pain.
“I know, don’t say anything”
And with that, he kisses me passionately and with all the day’s emotions. The rawness of his emotions matches my own and we pull back breathless and giddy. Tears are streaming down both our faces now and we embrace tightly one final time. I never want to let go, and I think about doing just that. Insisting he stay, telling him he can’t leave me like this, screaming at him for leaving me behind but I know I can’t, that I won’t. with no words needed he squeezes and ruffles my hair. His kiss lingers on my forehead as he walks away, our hands intertwined until the last moment. The rain is coming for me, and I know I should go home too. but I stand still, willing him back to my side. Wishing he was only mine. The clouds creep ever closer, and I wait for the rain to wash me away. The first drop on my face is as cold as a needle. An unwelcome reminder of the day that has been. I know I need to get out of the approaching storm, but my feet no longer have the strength to carry me. I turn my face up to the rain as I am assaulted by tiny cold pinpricks. Despite the heaviness of my wet clothes, I start to feel free, I can taste the inhibitions on my tongue, the tendrils of freedom cast around me. The darkness threatens to consume me. The loneliness wants to gobble me up, but I feel a rhythm in my soul, a beat in my heart, and a melody in my feet. I am gliding with the rain in a magical dance I cannot, will not stop. The deluge carries me with it, and I let the sadness flow from my fingers and toes. Tomorrow the reality of my love in the stars and my feet on the ground will crash over me but for tonight. A rhythm has entered my soul. So, I will dance in the rain. And ignore the stars that take him away.