I can almost feel her body on the satin. This dress used to be her grandmother's, she told me.
It's a cool summer afternoon but against my better judgment, I promised to never to wear black. Echoes of my sneakers chase after me as I run down the hall, out the front door; the sun was just starting to set and I hurry to my bike.
The sky is painted a warm lavender pink, drowning the beach town in a rose hue. It's been years and I've already memorized my path but still, I'm not used to being alone at this time of day. The ocean breeze brushes through and my dress starts to flow, mistaking me for it's previous owner. I pedal faster up a grassy cliff and there she was, the girl who tore me apart.
It was an afternoon like this when I first saw her.
She looked like an artist's greatest achievement. Her body was thick and big but as graceful as her movements. She was dancing on the shore. It wasn't because it looked weird, the sight got my attention because it didn't. I soon realized that she had the talent to make all her movements hypnotic.
"What're you doing?" I asked her, not realizing that I've walked straight to where she was.
Instead of answering, she asked me if her white dress was beautiful. I thought for a while, not being entirely sure if it was the dress that was pretty or if it was her whole being. I settled with a "Yeah, I guess."
She then told me it belonged to her grandmother, who taught her how to dance on the shore. Before I could respond, she grabbed my hand and said, "C"mon. I'll show you."
I turn around and see Mike. He looked older. He should. I guess I forgot that time passed even if my own world has stopped.
"Hey Mike. It's been a while." I greet him.
"Two years, to be exact." He says.
"That's two years of you never visiting her." I remind him.
He looks as me as if I punched him. I think that would've been nicer to do. I look away and he knows I mean well, he was close enough to know. Mike was, in some sort of way, mine. It wasn't love; it was just nice. I was the pronoun in his songs, until he saw her.
She was teaching me how to dance in the afternoon sunset again. We've done this everyday by now. Her movements were slow, we had just drank milk because she hated coffee. Mike was on the cliff over looking the beach, calling me and then he saw us dancing. He sat down and started to watch us, her.
He fell in love with her before the sun was out of the sky.
By the end, she would've fell for him too but I will be forever certain to whoever is up there that I-
"I loved her first."
Mike smiles softly. "I knew you were in love with her." He says.
I catch my breath, refusing to meet his gaze. "It doesn't matter now."
"You looked at her the way you never looked at me. I would know. She looked at you the same way." He quietly says.
Warm tears drop from my chin to the ground above her grave.
It was one night when we were sitting on our usual beach spot, watching the moon instead of the stars. We were inseparable, more so I was inseparable from her. She got up and I naturally followed. We walked along the shoreline. She began singing a song. I don't remember the lyrics, I only remember making it my favorite. And I remember finally kissing her.
And running away. Thinking that I stole something from her, knowing for certain that I shouldn't have and I wasn't worthy. Shame washed over any feelings I had of wanting to turn back.
"She fell in love with you and that's all that mattered." I bitterly say.
"She fell in love with me. But she didn't need to fall for you." Mike says, "She was already in love."
I start sobbing, digging my fingers to the ground, digging for something I don't know. I begin hoping for something, like she was still alive in her coffin, some sort of buried treasure I could get back.
I'm sorry I'm sorry I love you I'm sorry I love you I love you
With my chest collapsing on itself and nowhere this could lead to, I give up.
I can't stop crying.
"If you want the rose bush, it's yours. She was always yours." Mike says.
She said she wanted a rose seed buried on top of her grave. It grew even if nobody watered it. At first, I thought it was Mike who took care of it but going to her grave everyday made me realize that he never visited her. He couldn't.
"It grew because of you." He says.
"How?" I murmur.
He wiped a tear from my eye and let it drop on a little rosebud. I've been watering her roses with my tears all along. I gave her the flowers I should've given when she was there to receive them.
I kept silent for a while. "No. I want them here. At least Georgie could see it someday."
"You never visit him either. But I'm guessing it's for the same reason why I couldn't visit her too." He says, looking at her gravestone.
It's what she would've wanted, I know. But I couldn't bring myself to see the life I could've had with her. And Georgie. The son we could've had together.
I don't answer and Mike kisses my forehead and walks away.
He left a rose for her and I bury it in the hole I dug.
Three months later and I hear a little boy running to get the door. He opens it and sees me. "Dad, there's a lady at the door." He calls out.
Mike walks out and sees my face. His face was a picture worth a thousand emotions.
"Hi," I quietly say.
"Who're you?" The little boy asked.
"Georgie," Mike tells his son, "This is your Aunt Akoya. She's very special to me and—"
Little Georgie looks at me and grins. "You're the girl that mom loved."
I look at Mike with tears threatening to fall from my eyes. He told his son about me. About me and Rosie.
"If you don't mind, miss Akey, I have a billion jillion questions to ask you," He proudly says.
I kneel down and embrace Georgie. I have missed so much. For two years, I wondered what would it be like if I hadn't ran away that night. But now I realize that doesn't do anything. Like planting flowers for someone who will never see them. If I couldn't be there for Rosie, then I'd be there for her son now.
"You have her smile." I whisper, "Do you want me to teach you how to dance on the shore?"
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