We always meet at night, our voices hushed and footsteps soft against the sand. The waves crash and shush us, as if I need a reminder this time. It's not like I'm actually saying anything— we're sitting on the beach with the moon casting a gentle light on our bare feet. He's got a glass of wine in his hands and our legs are so close, they're nearly intertwined. He's watching the water and I'm trying not to watch him. A wedding reception buzzes above us in the restaurant on the side of the mountain. Traditional Greek music is muted but still it hums, cushioning the inevitable silence between us.

It's been three humid summer months of us meeting in this spot. It started at a bar one faithless night, when the speakers cut out and the whole place erupted into song and next thing I knew, I had my arms draped around this model-esque man and swayed and he asked me what I'm drinking and all I said in a drunken stupor is, "Whatever tastes like you."

A few drinks later, we end up outside and the night slowly morphed into day and I kiss his neck while he's smoking a cigarette. Then he hits me with, "No one knows I'm gay, and I'd like to keep it that way."

And it's okay, right? I left it at that but for three days, he took over my thoughts like a parasite, like tar coating my lungs. I've met plenty of tourists in my time living on the island— being a local and working at a bed and breakfast has molded me into an unofficial go-to tour guide. You want cheap, traditional food that tastes like an elderly Greek woman crafted each dish by hand? A good club with tasty drinks that doesn't close until 4am? A beach that isn't completely littered by other tourists? I'm your guy.

That's just the business of it— tourists come and go, but this one seemed to waltz into my mind and turn on all of the lights.

I spotted him three nights later at the same bar. I teased him for drinking alone on a Tuesday. He pointed out that I was, too.

He had a sketchbook out and he told me he's a designer, here on a summer holiday to seek inspiration without the buzz of the tabloids but all he could do lately is think of me. I told him I've been there once or twice. The evening aged finely and we reached the water to talk nonsense while the sun sinks into the horizon; we talk sensuality, sexuality, and my fingers trace his hands like I want to memorize every bend and turn.

We agree to meet here again and I should've known from the very first drag that he's a man of habit, and I'm the tobacco.

"Say something," the deep French accent urges and brings me back to Earth. He nudges me with the hand that caresses his glass of wine.

I look away immediately. The feeling inside of me is bubbling, brewing like a kettle of hot water. The clock has been ticking all summer and that's nothing new to me but I swear, I feel it crawling under my skin as each second passes. It makes me itch. I tug at the sleeves of my linen shirt to pull them over my hands.

"It's just cold," I mutter.

And I wish I didn't feel the way I do. I wish I could go back and tweak a few things between us, take back certain words I had said in a feeble attempt at seeming cool enough to be talking to some French fashion designer five years my senior. He has this way of making me feel like a child— immature, prone to mistakes, giddy, full of love and life. I wish I hadn't told him I was okay with just meeting at night, that I knew this wouldn't go anywhere because France would inevitably ring its bell to call him for supper and I'd be stuck here, where the sunsets are almost as breathtaking as my sobs in the middle of the night when I have no one to hold.

So of course, when he kissed me one night on the beach and his lips moved down my jaw and he asked if it was cool if we kept doing this in secret, I told him "No, it's cool," because that's what I was supposed to do, right? He keeps me at a distance and it's only a matter of time before the rubber band snaps.

Like a sucker, I'd come back to this exact spot and find myself falling farther and farther. We would talk, we wouldn't talk, I'd go home and cry like it was some cruel routine and I tried everything in my power not to let this happen. The nights only piled and here we are now, at the brim of the jar and my hands are full with feelings I didn't mean to catch.

"Keep going." He leans back all arrogantly, his gaze unwavering as if he invented that shade of hazel. He sips at his wine.

"I don't know what you're expecting me to say," I retort as I slowly turn away from him.

"I expect nothing."

"How do you say bullshit in French?"

He laughs like he knows something I don't, like he's dangling it over my head. Just out of my reach. He's always so out of reach.

"I'm just sad to see the summer go," I state, my voice small. I can hear him smile.

"Was that so hard? I just want you to be honest with me," he insists. I scoff.

"You're one to talk about honesty." I pick up sand and watch it fall between my fingers steadily.

I feel him gently beckon for my attention, his fingertips brushing against the back of my arm. "If you're going to be accusatory, mon amour, at least look at me–"

I whip around to face him. With my hands on his shoulders, gripping like it'll somehow provide me with a sense of direction and his face inches from mine, I scream three words soaked in frustration and anger: "I love you."

The music cuts.

The waves settle.

He doesn't reply. He smirks like the devil.

A pathetic laugh exits my lips and my hands fall to the sand. 

"Isn't that the worst thing you've ever heard?"

September 06, 2019 15:12

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