beach break

i watched you watch me from shore while i surfed the remnants of a dying swell, the midday sun and offshore wind a mix of hot and harsh i'd rather bear than face the alternative of you.

you waited alone, in the slight wide-legged stance i knew only to be yours, inviting in your reliably halfway attempt at reconciliation; a satisfied conscience your saving grace from the tyranny of absolute cowardice, thick like the salt on the air as it slapped at my face.

i wondered if you were sweaty through your long-sleeved shirt, and how long you'd wait before walking away. undoubtedly for good.

it was down to just a few waves an hour now, my face a burnt mix of sun and side-winds. still, you couldn't have paid me to ride one in. not this time.

soon, you disappeared slowly from sight, looking back as if in disbelief, not desire, as i stood my ground, firm in the water.

i wondered if you knew, too, that this shared moment of stubborn, unspoken indifference would be the one we'd remember, separately, as the last time you'd walk away from me. the first time i'd truly give up on all we'd hoped to be.

because this time, i'd rather float here, wind-burnt and waveless, than chase you like you want me to. follow you, forgive you, like i always do.

this time, the last time, i'll let you walk the beach alone.

i saw you see me from the water at sunset, standing there on shore with my board, probably praying i wouldn't paddle out to where you sat - your broad, sun-tanned back towards me, eyes hidden to the horizon below a flat-brimmed hat, like the one i bought you on your birthday some July a long time ago. back when you still pretended to care. and when i still half-believed your lies so that we might half-live your promises 'til death do us part - halfway, someday.

i watched you from the shore, waiting for you to wave, to wonder, to care enough to do something that might make me feel like i mattered. i had gotten used to waiting for things like that.

predictably, instead of something, you did nothing. you sat, electively blind to the shore, to me and the pressure of my waiting. now wasn't the right time to want you. forever wasn't looking much better. in not choosing, you chose. and that choice was never me.

so i turned toward the river mouth, faced the sun behind the steady clouds, and walked away from you. undoubtedly for good. and as i paddled out, i wondered if you knew, too, that i was doing the only thing i could never actually bring myself to do.

i wondered if you knew, too, that this was me, finally giving up on you.