“Honey, I’m not sure of anything. But it’s better to be happy than to frown upon the misgivings of this world.” – Grandpa William, in a letter to Diana
Dinner came and went. Diana sat on the swing set outside, breathing in the unpolluted night air. It was clean, crisp, and natural. That is what Diana loved about living by the sea: fresh air available twenty-four seven. She swung back and forth, gently yet restlessly. It was Anthony’s last night before he left for university inLondon. Out of all the places he had been accepted to, he chose London– it was too far away to think about it seemed unreal.
Everyone was talking about him leaving tomorrow. They were so proud of him, this boy that was going away and probably never coming back. Diana suspected that would happen though. The scholarship Anthony received for professional soccer was from one of the most prestigious training academies; and if he wanted that competitive edge, he would have to travel. Rockport was quaint and charming, but nowadays those qualities were not enough to keep people close to home.
With thoughts as turbulent as the emotions rising in her chest, Diana stopped swinging and took off her violet Toms. Barefoot, she marched across the backyard and opened the gate that separated her parent’s property from the beach. The pearlescent moon in the cloudless sky tempted her romantic side, and she decided to take a walk along the beach. Night’s ebony cape was full of twinkling stars, all shining with secrets that had piqued the interest of astronomers for centuries. Her feet made no noise on the sand. Stopping halfway, Diana lay down on the sand and stretched out her jacket to make it her pillow.
She used to play the violin. Her Grandfather William had played it, and he encouraged her to do the same. He had spent the last few years of his life travelling in Europewith his violin, playing at street corners and performing at village festivals. To her grandfather, music was “The key that opened lost souls.” Not an afternoon had gone by when Diana’s grandfather had patiently taught her how to hold the bow against the strings as if it was an extension of her arm; or how to let the music flow from her heart – not the music sheets she dutifully memorized. No matter how many times she tried, Diana could never come up with an original composition that could rival her grandfather’s pieces. Holding the bow and violin in her arm felt unsteady, as if there was a missing piece waiting to stabilize the equation.
Diana missed her grandpa and she wished he was with her, talking to her in the gruff voice she had grown accustomed to over the years. His death two years ago a day before her sixteenth birthday had struck several chords, and she was inconsolable for days. Gone was her companion for late night talks out on her parent’s porch, and her best friend when it came to dealing with Life. Gramps never faked his emotions, and he was always easily excited by the little, inconsequential things that seemed to hold no meaning. Her only solace came from the last letter he had written her before his final slumber; and that letter was always kept inside the secret pocket of her violin case. It broke her heart that she and her family were unable to get to the hospital on time; but the letter the nurse gave her at the end made the trip seem worthwhile. Gramps would have loved Anthony.
Sighing and turning over on her back, she thought about the time she and Anthony had spent at Rockport’s autumn fair last year. At first, they had mainly walked around talking about the junior soccer league Anthony was coaching. Diana was always awed by the compassion Anthony revealed when he talked about all the kids he trained in the league; he genuinely cared about each of them and he believed in all of them. Evening came and they had wandered around the rest of the fair with their friends, eating cotton candy and drinking Rockport’s famous strawberry milkshakes. Out of the blue, a man in battered clothes with a worn travel case came by, and started playing his violin right there. Though the music was simple, it was a tale of Time – the gentle stream of motes wavered iridescently in the air; hanging sweet and innocent till another melody replaced it. It was a lullaby that commemorated the heartbreak of love and the desire to be forgiven. Couples soon began slow-dancing to the tune, holding each other close and letting the silence speak words that actions exemplified. Diana and her friends had hung back, suddenly talking about going to a party at someone’s house. She was about to retreat when Anthony had come up from behind her and said, “C’mon, let’s dance.”
She didn’t know how it happened; but suddenly, they were swaying gently to the violinist’s music. Anthony held her close, hands reassuring around her waist. If it was wrong to feel completely safe and comfortable, Diana didn’t question it. Time seemed to have stopped, with the notes flitting by and staying suspended in the air. When the music had ended, people turned to thank the man who had played – but he had disappeared. Anthony had then walked her home and said good night; but nothing was mentioned the next day, or the day after that. A puzzled Diana felt that he had built a chasm between them and their one intimate moment, but she didn’t question it for fear of unnecessary over analysis.
With the waves gently lapping at her feet, Diana stood up and gazed at the sky, looking for a shooting star. She was hoping she would see one, because she wanted to make a wish that would keep the lock to her heart closed. The tears were a weakness to the fortress she kept for her feelings about Anthony; a fortress she wasn’t willing to let down. Like the violin melody that had played that night at the autumn fair, Diana’s feelings hung suspended in the air and were unable to calm down. It was as if she was sinking into the sand and unable defy the force of gravity pulling her down.
Unknowingly, the tears started slipping down her face and that erased all previous thoughts about being strong. Diana hated this feeling of weakness and acceptance, of loving someone who was never going to come back. Ever since they were kids, Anthony had been nothing but an older brother to her; why did she have to fall for him now? From the first day of school when he had randomly run up and kissed her on the cheek to that night at the autumn fair, Anthony had (and always would) have a special place in her heart. He was her best friend, protector, and companion. They were childhood friends, and that was it.
The tears seemed to flow naturally like a river now- there was a steady current to it, a soft gentle rhythm that seemed to be mimicking the ocean in front of her. But that rhythm was soon interrupted when someone grabbed her from behind and held her tight against his chest. She turned around, gasping for breath and half-hoping it wasn’t Anthony.
Unfortunately, it was Anthony. Now he had seen her at her worst; and thinking that made her cry harder. As the tears continued their flow, he held her close to and rocked her back and forth gently. She couldn’t help but noticed that she fit snugly into his arms, like a puzzle with the perfect fit. He was warm and solid, a force not to be reckoned with. Her tears gradually lessened, and she was able to breathe and think more clearly. She focused her eyes on the moon above, and the way it cast its reflection on the dark sapphire water. Diana didn’t want to meet Anthony’s eyes, though his eyes seemed to be probing hers – searching, looking, and trying to make contact. She wouldn’t let that happen, she wouldn’t fall prey to the hazel flecks that highlighted the green in his eyes. This would be a part of her that would be kept to herself. But Diana’s will crumbled to dust the minute Anthony’s lips found hers; and she was in temporary heaven- for the moment. They kissed, strong and overturning for a few blissful minutes. Diana didn’t know what it was, but she was no longer afraid – now, she was complete.
An hour was left before the inevitable separation. Anthony and Diana kept their foreheads together, faces a few centimeters apart. Ocean waves continued to lap at the shore, the beat never stopping. Taking Diana’s hand, Anthony handed her a letter with instructions to read it after he left. She nodded, looking into his eyes because she knew what the letter would say. Summer was as short and sweet as the word itself; but love was for all eternity. Diana leaned in to kiss Anthony one more time, knowing that things would never be the same again. Without warning, the sound of the violin broke the stillness of the night. It was a brief interlude, but one reminiscent of a man who used to play the violin with relentless zeal and enthusiasm. The notes drifted in through the air, the harmonic tune forming memories for the future.
“They say that when you dream of someone, they’re thinking of you. When you’re missing them, they’re missing you too. Is there a two-way connection to this, or is it simply … fate?” – Anthony, in his first letter to Diana