"Zane? Zane! Please tell me you're with me..."
She was always there.
The cliff next to the ocean had always been her favorite place to go to when she needed to clear her mind, and today was no exception. I could see her slim profile, outlined by the sun's fading rays. She was beautiful, and for a moment I felt happy he was no longer there to block me from telling her so.
As I watched her lay her head in her arms, I instantly felt guilty. He had been her whole life, her anchor, and she was a wreck without him. Who was I to wish this fate upon both of them?
"I'm going to be brutally honest with you, Kaitlyn. He has six weeks, perhaps two months, left."
Jealous and petty. That's all I would be if I continued feeling this way.
Although it was true that I had a chance...
I pushed those thoughts out of my mind. I was her best friend, and nothing more. Whether she wanted to take it to another level was her decision, not mine. She needed time.
Glancing at the clock, I grabbed a light jacket and headed outside to join her. She looked up as I approached her, her face wet with recent tears. She was wearing nothing but a tank top, apparently not feeling the cold breeze sweeping over the sand.
"You're going to catch a cold," I said, not knowing how to comfort her. Telling her I would be there for her seemed fake and superficial, but there was nothing else I could say. I draped the jacket over her shoulders, resolving to show her in my actions.
Absentmindedly, she tugged it over her, holding it around her neck. An awkward silence followed, punctuated only by our breathing. After some time, she raised her head.
"Do you think he's happy now?"
"I'll never be happy when you're not by my side."
My heart ached at her broken voice. She used to be strong, just for him. Strong and fiery... and just then she seemed like a shell or her former self. "He's happier now then he was on Earth the past few weeks, in any case..."
"What are you telling me?" She peered at my face, searching for a hidden motive. I felt uncomfortable under her gaze, afraid she'd find something I didn't know myself.
What was I telling her? "Kaitlyn, for your own good... you have to accept that he's not here anymore."
She scooped up a handful of sand and let it flow out of her fingers. "Move on," she whispered. "You want me to move on." The fine grains slipped past the cracks in her hand, piling beneath her, and she stared at it numbly.
Move on. "It's for your own good. You'll kill yourself with the grief. There's no way for you to see him again." I fumbled awkwardly with the pebbles on the ground, wondering if I was going about comforting her the right way.
"Isn't there?" The words came out on a breath.
"I will see him again, if it's the last thing I do!"
"What?" I could barely hear her, and the words made no sense.
She shook her head, her hair flinging itself over her shoulder. "I see what I have to do."
It was that easy? "You do?" I briefly considered the possibility that she was going to yell at me soon for suggesting such a thing. I braced myself for the explosion.
It never came.
"I have to move on, don't I? Accept the facts and deal with them." She suddenly stood, brushing the sand off her shorts. "Thanks for helping me see it." Smiling serenely, she walked back to her house, her small feet making imprints in the sand.
I waved at her retreating silhouette, a little surprised at her abrupt agreement but also, for some reason, insanely happy at my breakthrough.
"He'll be fine, I promise..."
She'd make it through.
I woke up the next morning feeling groggy and disoriented. I had been unable to sleep, and my dreams were plagued by images of a hawk dropping its prey. I had watched the mouse fall down to its death before jerking awake, only to close my eyes and see the same image. The same image, the same picture, over and over.
"You can't escape reality."
"I've been watching too many nature shows with Kaitlyn," I muttered, wiping my eyes and stretching. I smiled goofily as I remembered the night before. Thanks for helping me see it. The words echoed in my mind, making even my tedious morning routine a pleasure to do.
As I dressed quickly, smelling the scent of breakfast wafting in from the kitchen and anticipating a large plate of pancakes, my mom stuck her head in the doorway, apparently not caring enough to knock so I could rearrange myself.
"Mom!" I silently thanked my lucky stars that she hadn't come in a second before.
She glanced at me, probably glad to see me fully clothed, and apologized. "Sorry. Just wanted to tell you that Kaitlyn wants to meet you at the beach before breakfast. She didn't say anything else, but I think you should see her."
"Did she say why?"
"No, although she seemed well enough to me. I'm glad, she's been so fragile since..." She left the rest of the sentence unsaid, flustered.
"It's almost time to say goodbye, Kaitlyn."
I relaxed. I had been worried she had gotten worse, that my suggestions hadn't helped. "Oh. Thanks, Mom. I'll be down soon."
She moved to close the door. "Hurry up, your sister's going to steal the last of the syrup."
I slipped my shoes on and followed her, anxious to meet Kaitlyn and see what she wanted. I waved to my parents and sister before closing the door behind me.
There she was. She seemed peaceful enough, dressed in a light t-shirt and jeans. Her hair was put up in a sloppy ponytail, and she was holding a box. I recalled seeing that box on her dresser once before, but she had never allowed me to touch it.
"Come to the cliff with me," she said, taking my hand and leading the way. At the edge we stopped, looking down at the sand below. The wind was stronger today, and I chided myself for not bringing a jacket.
Puzzled, I turned to her. "What's with the box?"
She handed it to me, lifting the lid. "Just leave it open, please." She reached in and took out a bundle of papers. "This is to moving on." She separated them and tossed one carelessly, her eyes following its spiraling descent.
She ignored me, taking out the next sheet of paper. "Moving on."
I looked at her, alarmed. "Are you okay?"
She smiled softly. "I'm moving on." She threw the next one, taking only a moment to scan it. I caught a glimpse of Zane's scrawling signature and knew immediately what they were.
"This isn't what I meant..."
"It's okay, Nick, this is what I want." She pulled out a necklace, tears filling her eyes. She roughly wiped them away, her expression changing from melancholy to determined. After allowing herself a second to hold it, she dropped it, watching it fall. Everything in the box became victims of the wind - letters, wilted flowers, jewelry, cards... she threw them all away.
She threw away his love.
"Except for this." She took out a silver ring and put it on, twisting it on her ring finger.
"I'll always be here for you, you know... you can tell me." I was beginning to worry about her odd behavior. "You can't just toss all of this and forget what he made you." I wanted her to move on, but this was too much.
Finally, she took the box from me and let it fall. "I'm not forgetting, far from that."
"Thank you for your blessing, Nick." She turned to the view below her. "For reminding me that there is a way to move on."
I stared at her. "This is not the way!"
"Don't leave me, Zane!"
I grabbed her arm, acting purely on instinct. I had no idea what she was about to do, but I had an ominous enough feeling to feel the need to hold onto her. "Kaitlyn?"
She wrenched her arm from my grasp. "I wish you the best, Nick." She stepped forward, closing her eyes.
"He's gone. Zane's... gone. I'm so sorry."
A/N: Any thoughts? Please review!