It was one of those days that made you feel like anything was possible. I must have believed that anything was possible, because I felt certain it was the day I would finally be rid of you.

The weather was abnormally warm for October. Though the light had turned golden and the leaves had begun their transformation from green to rust, the heat was reminiscent of June: when the months ahead promised days of endless possibility.

I fiddled with my lip ring as I stared at the wall clock and waited impatiently, conspicuously, for the end-of-day bell to sound. I was the first to my feet when it did, and quite nearly bolted from the classroom. I didn't bother to wait for you; I knew you would hurry to follow and catch up. You always did. You were so predictable.

I was out the school's front door and to the sidewalk before I heard your dull voice call anxiously, "Shire!" I turned and grinned when you shouted my name, as if I were happy you had found me. I suppose for once I was.

You panted slightly as you came to a stop before me, brushing your newly-dyed black hair from your eager, dark Kohl-rimmed eyes. You were trying so hard; so hard to fit in where you weren't wanted. It was impossible not to notice how dramatically your style had changed as you spent more and more time with me. The more you changed, the more I hated you for being so fake... for giving up whoever it was you had been in an attempt to catch my eye and make me like you. It was so pathetic how much work you put into being something you weren't.

"Where are you going?" you asked, falling into step beside me, your head bobbing next to my shoulder as you walked close. You used to seem taller, with your heeled shoes and platform sandals. The flat-soled high tops you had traded them in for didn't look as good on you. They didn't do you justice.

I told you I was going to the beach and you asked to tag along, just like I knew you would. "Of course," I replied, hoping the tone of my voice or the hunger in my green eyes did not betray my intentions. They didn't, apparently, and you seemed pleased just to walk with me and babble on about your day and who-said-what-to-who. I've never cared much for gossip, but I nodded and looked appropriately shocked as you told me the latest rumors, because at least it kept you busy, and I didn't have to talk.

The fresh smell of sand and saltwater reached my nose as we neared the beach and my stomach fluttered with anticipation. I closed my eyes and listened to the growing sound of waves crashing heavily on the shore. A smile played on my lips and I opened my eyes to look at you when you commented on my apparent happiness, asking me for a reason.

My smile grew but I did not respond. I crossed the threshold from street to beach, sand sliding fluidly beneath my worn black sneakers. I took you by the wrist and led you over the small dunes to stand in the shallows at the water's edge. Frigid water flooded my shoes, but I did not mind. You made a face as the waves bubble around your ankles, but you did not complain.

"Let's go deeper," I suggested, wrapping my large hand more tightly around you tiny wrist. When had you gotten so thin? I failed to keep my surprise from showing as I looked at your angular silhouetted. You had been so much healthier before all this. I think you had been happier, too.

"Shire, it's too cold," you whined, though you did not resist. Could you tell I was only trying to help you? It was not long before you were in up to your waist. I stopped walking and turned to face you, my hands sliding up your arms from wrists to elbows. I brought my face close to yours and expectation filled your eyes; your lips parted. You thought I was going to kiss you. I leaned closer still, until my lips just barely brushed yours and whispered, "You're going to die."

I slammed you down into the ocean before you had a chance to react, forcing all of my weight on you. You flailed and kicked wildly, but I had the upper hand, with size, weight and gravity all on my side. There would be no escaping for you.

Within minutes you stopped struggling and the bubbles cleared. You stared back at me from beneath the surface, eyes wide and mouth shaped in a frozen scream. the water around your long, straight hair clouded as the black dye lifted from the strands. The color had been temporary, just like your suffering. Your natural white blond hair was perfect, and suited you much more than anything that came from a bottle.

With one arm around your narrow waist to keep you steady, I used my free hand to completely removed the black from your hair. God, you looked so beautiful. I let my hand linger before trailing my fingers gently down your face to cup your cheek in my palm. Running my thumb over your left eyelid, I smeared your heavy black makeup, then rubbed more persistently to relieve you of it completely. I was surprised when a contact slid from the surface of your eye to reveal a golden, honey-colored iris. I repeated the process on the right side of your face, my revulsion slipping away with your facade. I lifted you free of the brine and cradled you against me as I returned to the shore with you in my arms.

I sat down on the gritty white sand and held you so your back was to my chest, with my chin just barely resting on the top of your head. There was no sound but that of the water climbing the shore, and I reveled in the pleasure of being with you - the ireal/i you; the you I could vaguely remember from before. Before you had ruined yourself, and I had been forced to despise you so greatly.

I laid you on your back on the sand, your hair fanning out behind you to give you an almost ethereal quality. I grinned down at your form with satisfaction. My silent brooding and wishing for your charade to end had at last come to fruition.

Now we could finally be together.

© Kelsey Sanderson 2008