(Ben said Do this right, Brother and Lochlan told him he was way ahead of him. The best changing of the guard ever, and the only step we missed in all this love, all this time.)
In the dim light left over from sunset he pulled me out into the water. I thought maybe we would just stand in the surf up to our knees, make a mess that would mean clearing the back hall of people long enough to strip out of our wet things outside on the steps and make it up to our room in only skin without tracking salt and sand through the whole house, but no. He had other plans. Baptism by saltwater.
We walked until the water was up over my shoulders and then he pulled me under with him. We surfaced in a kiss, in the dark and then he pulled us back to where we could stand comfortably. It wasn't cold, surprisingly. It wasn't uncomfortable and it wasn't frightening. I didn't notice any of it save for him.
Lochlan wrapped one arm around me to keep me close and with the other he held my face up to his so that I would pay attention. And then he started to talk. He talked about everything while we went numb in the Pacific together, not caring. He talked about his feelings from the time he was thirteen to now. He told me all of things that paralyzed him. All of the things he hated about himself. All of the things he wanted for me and then for us and then for me again. He talked about his regrets and his shortcomings. His flaws and his gifts and what he wanted to give to me. He talked about love and what it means to him and what it isn't and what he thinks it should be.
These are the sorts of words that take years, even decades to formulate. As he talked I could feel my heart. He keeps doing this to me. All of the broken, blackened, stapled and taped together pieces of it swelled and burst one by one, only to melt together in a slick cohesive red plush before exploding again. Over and over again it did this, at the end of just about every second sentence until it made a mighty gasp and started to beat really hard as one organ instead of the remains of my loves. Whole, rebuilt on promises that I don't doubt for a moment for the first time since I was little and believed that it would be easy to keep a promise. You just promise to keep it and you're good.
He spent his life in anticipation of this moment where he could tell me everything and here it is and by golly he earned the spotlight tonight. This is the greatest show on earth. One night only.
In the moonlight my blood turned to gold again and he took a shuddering breath and laughed, his forehead pressed down against mine as I finally start to shiver. He asks me what I'm thinking as we finally wade back in toward shore.
I couldn't find any words. It makes sense now. Everything works out. Everything explained. Everything resolved. Everything is better. Everything will be okay. Everything is turning out better than I had hoped. Everything is right here. Right now. But my brain couldn't operate my mouth and I nodded and shivered and cried and he cried and goddamn it, we'll figure it out.
I could regret the time it took for him to say these things, and the stony silence for so long when he refused to explain himself and instead took up last place when he should have been first in line but it makes sense now. I could regret all the times I've tried to hurt him for that silence, or tried to pay him back for turning his back on me, or begrudge all the wasted time and heartache we've endured for each other but then he holds his hand out, waiting for mine.
Everything happens for a reason, right, Peanut? Maybe we just had to be sure. And if we're not sure right this minute then I don't think we ever will be.
Then he got down on one knee in the crashing surf and fumbled for a box. My head aches from the cold and my hands are numb. I can't imagine what his feel like but he has a deathgrip on the box.
A wave almost knocks him down and he grabs for my hands. Oh, that's good. I can't save you, stupid.
I really want this to be spectacular but I fear I may die down here, he says from his knees.
It will be spectacular wherever, I remind him.
Okay, pretend you didn't see this. He gets up and we head back up to the house but instead of heading to the house we head to the camper that is still parked by the cliff. He wraps me (shivering mightily by now) in a quilt, tells me the usual order to stay put before making a roaring bonfire. Then he joins me in the quilt, his arms around me, his head tucked over mine. Our teeth are making such a collective chatter I can barely hear his words.
Bridgie, I'm going to cry and ruin this. I've waited so long to do this properly and everyone keeps beating me to it.
*(Part II will be a few days from now because we won't have wifi where we'll be. See you soon!)