As we burn

I remember so clearly the fire, a single spot of comfort within the coldness of the dark beach that night. You were sitting on the sand, close to the sea, eyes closed, fire-colored shadows illuminating your body. My head was pounding and my vision blurred by the light and darkness of the memories that sparked in my mind, so fast, so sudden, things I didn’t know I remembered with such painful detail. The kisses, warm and sometimes cold, the sleepless nights, talking or not talking, the Sundays hidden in your small bed, the home-cooked meals that almost always went wrong, the uneventful days in between the beginnings and firsts and the lasts and endings; I remembered all of them, all at once, looking at you. You looked as beautiful as always.

I remember watching the bonfire during the infinite silences that lived in between our sentences. I watched it as if it was the most important, fascinating thing in the whole world, because I was so afraid of the moment we would run out of words. It was yellow and orange, with blue spots that appeared and disappeared. You thanked me for coming, and said you had been gathering the courage to call for months. The yellow was bright, so bright for a few seconds I forgot. I nodded, and I wanted to ask why, what did you need to say to me so badly that you asked me to come here and see you, you know it hurts you know it kills me and you know I will always, always say yes, why?

You looked at me, and it was strange, the reflection of the fire in your eyes. The same ones that had looked into mine so many times, seen me in the crude light of truthness, better than anyone ever before, and yet they seemed to belong to a different person. There was just too much in them. Guilt, sadness, and just maybe you missed me too; and of course the fire, too alive for its own good. You said you were sorry. I kept watching the fire through your eyes, trying to, without saying a thing, get you to say anything else. Sorry for what? Was it for asking me here? For letting me love you with everything I had and didn’t have, letting me give you  a part of me I did not know existed, the only part that was really true? And then what’s left? Sorry for what?

For everything. You bit your lips and stare at the sea, as if it held any answers. The fire turned your dark hair almost orange, and I tried to stare at it for long enough I wouldn’t recognize you, long enough you became a stranger, someone I could leave there without feeling as if I was leaving a part of myself too. It didn’t work. Is that all you asked me here to say?

I don’t know if I wanted you to tell me to leave or ask me to stay forever. You didn’t do either; you turned your body to me, your back to the ocean, and you starred into my eyes for what seemed like hours. The air between us was heavy and hot, and everything else around was terribly cold; our breaths in sync, our eyes locked. I could see how scared you were. I asked you here to say goodbye. The air in my lungs turned cold. The silly beautiful hopes I didn’t know I had were broken with seven words, and a quiet, terrible promise. You got up, looking at me, not a hint of a lie between us, and I knew we had run out of words.

Things got foggier. You loved me, you loved me so much, you had promised so many dark nights, but you were afraid to be with me and what would they say? You could not avoid loving me, and you could not let me love you. It was a simple equation and the only possible outcome was heartbreak. And there it was at last. You needed to say goodbye, to let go of me, to show me the way out of your heart because it could in no way be a home for me. You said what we had was beautiful, and you loved me so much it was killing you. One last time, you said you were sorry.

I stared at the fire and breathed in the silence of a sad, cold night like that one was. The fire burnt slowly, but still far faster than I could have wished for. Too perfect. It was beautiful, intense, dangerous. Too beautiful for its own good. I thought of us holding hands and kissing and saying lovely things. We were intensity born from a sudden, unexpected beauty, fast and sudden, impossible to fight; I thought of the days when we kissed between tears and cried between laughs and hid under your sheets, pretending there was nothing to be afraid of. It was too beautiful, too dangerous, all of it, us and love and the fire that made that cold night just a little bit more bearable. Dangerous like first kisses, like the times no one was looking, dangerous like the way it felt when we remembered the world wasn’t, despite our wishes, just you and me hiding under your sheets. It was a perfect metaphor, the fire, I thought.

And then it turned to ashes, to nothing at all.

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