Those summer days were long and weary, but full of the plump expectations of rain and regret that seemed to always punctuate our time together.
I remember strolling down the great, stone steps to the shore, your soft hand in mine, as we chatted about the nights we’d lost to alcohol and fireworks, our clothes heavy with the scents of sweat, lavender, whiskey, and gunpowder. You told me about the old priest who had presented you with three keys–one of brass, one of silver, one of salt–when you were just a small girl in a bright-yellow dress. You had heard rumors of the priest moving to the far, frozen north to be a missionary, but who really knew? You could never remember his name, only the way his large, stonelike hands took yours as he told you of the ancient gods and the endless wars in Heaven and Hell.
We stood on the beach, watching the waves lap at the rocky shore, a shimmering, misty heat drifting from the water. A tear rolled down your cheek as I talked about my youth spent wandering through the labyrinthine cornfields of Iowa, my bare feet sinking in the damp soil, the ragged cuffs of my jeans caked with mud and dust. When the clouds turned to turquoise and the rain fell from the sky like an ocean, I knew I would one day live by the sea, drunk and in love, my heart so full of dreams, it felt as if it could burst.
We kissed on the beach as the sea trickled up to our ankles, our tongues and breath intertwined like ivy, until we became dizzy and fell into the sea. The waves carried us out into the cool, dark depths, prying us apart, casting us into the shadowy fathoms.
And now, I stand in my small, attic room in Guayaquil, listening to fat raindrops drum on the rooftop. I look at a photograph of us standing side-by-side at the entrance to the Doctor Viridian’s Midnight Carnival, and I wonder if we will ever see each other again.