I don't particularly love the ending. Oh well.
Soft light, like from her eyes, breaking through the salty seas above us—cradling us in shafts of painless daylight, the burn and bite cut off in the blueness of the sea. I thought I saw her. I thought I heard her voice, and ached to be with her. I would be, soon. I would be with her.
I thought I felt her hand on mine, soft as angels’ wings, leading me towards the gentle rolling lights of heaven.
I thought I saw the sad sweet glimmer in her eyes as she wrapped me in her arms and carried me towards her brilliance.
When he opened his eyes next, and the three of us—Jackson, Rel, and I—breathed a collective sigh of relief, he started crying.
“Eter,” Jackson gasped, grabbing his drenched shirt with both hands. “Eter, you idiot—“
Rel stifled a sob of her own, and shut her eyes against the sight of her brother half-dead on the sand, and turned into the shoulder of the air. I watched helplessly. I could understand him, now. I had finally figured out that far-off look in his eyes when he said, “Sammie, I’m losing myself.”
He tried to get up, but collapsed on the sand; Jackson held him up and pounded on his back so he would spit out the salt water. Half the water, though, seemed to be coming from his eyes; he fell back into Jackson’s arms with a choking, sobbing sound; “Jane, my Jane, how could you take her away from me?”
I laid an unsteady hand on his back. I made him look me in the eyes, and he was ragged.
“Eter.” I could think of nothing else to say. He stared at me haphazardly, as if unsure I could be so cruel as to take him away from his Jane.
“I can’t live without her, Sammie,” he whispered, as if only I could hear. “I can’t—I can’t—“
He fell into sobs again, and Jackson held him, and Rel stared out at the sea.
Three days pass, and I find myself at Jane Nity’s grave, staring stone-still at the tracks the rain makes on her humble tombstone. Every flower Eter had left is still there, some withered and brown, some still clinging to color while their edges fell away. The latest one, the one left three days ago—a single rose, with a clean white note, now damp from the rain—still retained its crimson hue.
I shouldn’t. I do anyway, though.
The note, or what’s left of it, says six words: I’m coming, Jane. I love you. I can see where his hand starting shaking, at her name. Oh, he would not be nervous at the promise to end his own life, but the thought of her—the thought of seeing her again, and the endless pain between this and then—was too much for him to bear. Ashamed, I let the not fall to the muddy ground, and turn my face into my palms and sob.
He wouldn’t speak to anyone. It doesn’t matter, though. No one deserves to speak to him, not after what we did to him—we kept him away from his Jane.
I feel time passing, through the haze of my despair. About me is only darkness, pulsing and clawing and screeching silence in my head, and it won’t consume me. I am poisoned by anguish. I am too miserable living now to die.
Sometimes I see people I’ve forgotten the name of, people with blue eyes, people with pleading voices. I don’t try to hear what they say. I feel nothing anymore, except agony of losing her, every moment of the day.
Thoughts reach me sometimes, through my grief-filled fog. Only thoughts of sadness. I was so close. I could feel her in my arms, leading me; I could see her eyes; I could see her, and she was taking me with her. She was taking me to be with her, forever. I had felt my ascension, and I had felt her, and now there was nothing—nothing but empty torture, which every moment wrought.
Eternities pass before they force-feed me their drugs and I begin to feel again, and I see those blue eyes in front of me, and I feel everything like a torrent and I cry, I cry.
Something like years pass before I get him to smile again, and even though, the sadness never leaves his eyes. We can’t ask for more than that, I guess. We don’t let him go to the beach anymore.
Rel had to leave for school, and Jackson came and went—he just couldn’t stay in one place, caring for Eter, like I could. Both of them cared so much; I knew that. We all loved him. I loved him, and I think he loved me, in the way that people love after all the light leaves their life. I like to think I kept him alive, through the years; maybe kept some small part of him alive, so he wouldn’t lose himself entirely.
We were out, one night, picking up dinner, when he turned to me and said, “Thank you, Sammie.”
“Coke or Sprite?”
“No.” He swallowed and tears welled in his eyes. “Thank you, Sammie. You know I love you. I wish it was enough.”
I stared out the window for a moment, watching his reflection in the night-reflected glass. “That’s okay, Eter.”
More years passed and I married Jackson, and we bought a house near a mountain. Eter came to visit, sometimes, always carrying that definite sadness with him; that terrible misery. He was okay, he said. He had learned to swim, now, he said with a laugh—or what how he laughed, which was not really a laugh at all. He wasn’t jumping into any oceans any time soon.
I guess I believe him.