Don’t Tell Me

I sit on the beach, listening to the humming of the waves and staring up at the night sky thick with stars. It used to calm me down. Coming to the beach in the evenings, when it wasn’t full of sweaty bodies smelling of suntan lotion, was always my ritual. The air was cooler than during the day and I liked counting the stars. I used to believe they were twinkling just for me.

It’s been a long time since my last visit. Sitting here now, I feel as cold nostalgia wraps its fingers around my heart and squeezes it till I’m out of breath.

I saw him today. Just a glimpse of his face between all these people in the street. He hadn’t changed at all. The same messy hair, the same smile. I would recognize him anywhere.

He was with someone else. She had blond hair and a perfect shape. I couldn’t help asking myself what it was that made her better than me. But it was needless, because I’d already known the answer. I left and she was there. I pushed him away and she didn’t, that’s what.

As I sit on the beach tonight, I feel the emptiness filling up my heart. I try to block my thoughts, to drive them off, but they won’t leave me alone. My mind drifts to the hot summer days spent in this small seaside town. Memories float through me one after another.

He was my friend. He was always there for me, even if I didn’t want him.

The irony of life is that what we really need is usually within reach, but we don’t notice it and keep looking in all the wrong places. And these things won’t wait for us forever. People won’t wait forever.

“Melissa?” I’m so startled by the sudden sound of the voice coming from behind my back that I almost jump. I don’t need to turn around to know it’s him. “I knew you’d be here.”

“Neil.” His name’s all I manage to say. I’m surprised by his presence. Years ago it was normal for us to meet on the beach, but I wouldn’t expect to see him here tonight. “How did you—,”

“I saw you in town today,” he cuts me off. “I didn’t get to say hi, so I hoped to find you here. As always.”

I pray that I don’t blush, but I can feel my face flush red. Even though it’s already dark, I’m afraid he’ll see it, so I turn away. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Stop blushing.

“There’s something I wanted to tell you,” he says as he sits next to me.

My heart stops for a while. There’s something he wants to tell me. That he hates me? No, he wouldn’t bother coming here just to tell me that. Maybe he’s getting married? Does he want to invite me to his wedding? That could be it. The blonde I saw with him today would surely make a perfect wife. I feel a sudden rush of pain somewhere inside of me and I realize that whatever it is he wants to talk about, I don’t want to hear it.

“Don’t go there,” I say. There’s something weird in my throat that barely allows me to speak. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

I shut my eyes and listen as my thoughts form an endless monologue in my head: Don’t tell me about her. Don’t tell me who she is. Don’t tell me how much you love her. Don’t tell me how happy you are. Don’t tell me stories about your new life. Don’t tell me about the past. Don’t tell me about how things could’ve been. Don’t tell me what I lost. Don’t tell me anything. Just shut up and go away, please, please, please.

“Don’t tell you what?” he asks. “That I’m happy to see you? That I missed you?”

Well, that is something I wasn’t prepared for. I slowly turn my head in his direction. Our eyes meet and he holds my gaze. What did he say? I missed you. My heart races at the speed of light and I try to tell it to slow down, but it won’t listen to me. Stop it, you stupid. Stop expecting. It doesn’t mean anything.

“What is it that you don’t want me to tell you, Mel?” he speaks again, his voice soft. There’s a hint of a smile on his face. “That I’ve never forgotten you? That I’ve been wishing you’d come back?”

“But the girl I saw you with,” I say and immediately regret it. I shouldn’t mention it. It’s none of my business.

“What about her?” he laughs. “She’s my cousin. I was showing her the neighborhood.”

Cousin, I repeat the word in my head. She’s not his future wife. He’s not getting married. And he’s been wishing for me to come back. I can’t help but burst out laughing.

We sit there for a while, like we used to. We talk about everything. After all this time of being away, I have a lot of gaps to fill. And the little voice in my head whispers to me that maybe everything’s not lost yet. Maybe I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. Maybe there’s still hope. This time I won’t throw it away.

Inspiration has been drained out of me this week. But this came to my head at 2 am last night and the InMon prompt Don’t Tell Me gave me the motivation to do something with it. It probably should be a bit shorter and I tried to cut some words out, but in the end I decided to just leave it this way. Feel free to leave me a comment, I’d appreciate to know your opinion 🙂


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