As the Sun Sets
written by: Leah Barker
His eyes were as blue as the ocean, wide-eyed and full of wonder. When he spoke, his words were as smooth as silk, but they resonated like thunder. I knew that I loved him as soon as his gaze met mine. We first kissed under a starry night, and his lips tasted like red wine.
I’d been staring at his beauty for years, waiting for him to wrap me up and claim me as his, and that day finally came. Fifteen, falling fast, with a heart pounding as rapid as the rain. He told me he loved me, and if I’ve ever believed in anything, it was that I loved him more. He was my solid land, and I was his shore, washed up in the undercurrent and a sea-waging war. I was abused, desolate, vindictive and sore, but he dressed up the wounds to be thought of no more.
I knew that before I met him, I had been living in a comatose, but now, I’m awake. I can hear the flowers bloom, the world spinning, and now I live for love’s sake.
People tell me that it’s called infatuation and that it will fade away, that young love is all too fleeting and it’s only child’s play. I don’t believe them. They say that I’m young, but I know all too well that I’ve suffered a hundred years of hardship condensed into fifteen. At five years old, I watched my parents marriage crumble, and I decided that the world was cruel and unclean. My tide continued to grow higher, and my ocean turned a murky, foul green.
But he loves me, I know, and even though the future is unforeseen, my “young love” is an old soul, and I’d never let our affection turn routine.
It had been a month since that kiss, and that day he swore he would marry me. He promised I would be saved from my depression, paranoia, and anxiety. He would love me through it all, and become the salve to my internal insanity.
He was funny, and made me laugh so much that I often got in trouble for it, but I didn’t care. He was depressed too, and I admired his jesting despite his despair. My favorite emotion was a smile through tears, and he had it nailed down despite all his fears.
Fifteen. We were the same person. So externally young, two internal souls advanced in existence. His body was filled with passion, and his mind would seep it.
“Together, forever, no matter what,” became our outspoken promise, and I swore to the gods that I would keep it.
Her eyes were as deep as the sea, piercing and cat-like, and they saw right through me. When she spoke, her words kept me warm. She was the calming wind, and I was the storm. I was shaking like crazy when I leaned in for our first kiss. She’s so high above me, and I was afraid I might miss, but we connected like magnets, and it changed everything I knew about the world. She did. The woman I felt under the moon last night, I used to think of as a girl, but she grew up right in front of me and let her ripeness unfurl. I could feel her heart beating, almost as fast as mine, and her kiss was like a heaping dose of top-shelf iodine. I see her now, and she’s beautiful. I wanted to give her everything I’ve got, but I didn’t have much to offer, and I only had one shot.
“Marry me,” I’d say, at our bench by the pond. I knew it had only been a month, but we shared an intimate bond. My ocean eyes, my everything, I want to be your king. Someday I’ll build us a castle, and a throne for you, my queen.
We’re young and in love, fifteen and and flaunting. People say it will never last, that our “infatuation” will only leave us wanting. It haunts me to think she could ever go away, and I’ll do anything in my power to convince her to stay. Our love runs deeper than the skin, deeper than anything they see, and it’s more than external, fleeting sensuality. Our souls mesh into one like it’s found its missing piece, and I’m so sure that through time, my love for her will only increase.
I’m stupid and plain, but she laughs at everything I say. I live a little more each time she smiles, and I think I might be fully alive someday. As long as she’s around to smile at anything, my heart will mend itself when I see she is healing. She doesn’t like her scars, but in them, I see history: the pain of her past is just a transparent accessory. And I love her, even when her tide is high. I’ll be her steady ground while I paint her a sunset sky.
“Together, forever, no matter what,” I promised and took her hand. She’ll always be my ocean eyes, and I’ll be her solid land.
I’ve waited so long for this day, and it’s finally here. I’m so nervous, like the first time we touched. It’s been five years, and I still feel such a rush, fixing my tie and buttoning up my tux. My love, I told you we would make it, despite all of your fears, and now I get to hold you forever and wipe away your tears. I can’t wait to see you all dressed up in white. I can’t wait for our first dance under the promising moonlight, and to kiss you passionately enough to make you my wife.
I promised your dad I would take good care of you, in sickness and in health. Nothing will break this bind we share, through poorness and in wealth.
I can’t wait to see you with a baby on the way, and I can’t wait to watch the sunset with you while our hair is turning grey. Someday, after we’ve taken this world by storm, we’ll sit in our house by the bay, and I’ll whisper in your ear, “We’ve made it all the way.”
My love, you’ll only grow more beautiful everyday.
I hope our children have your eyes, your nose, your smile, playing by the beach and laughing all the while, loving life like we love them and making every moment worthwhile. I’ll hold your hand and look into a set of eyes that mirror the ocean, and thank God every time for this day of our promised devotion.
I’m waiting at the altar for my bride to take my hand, promise me her life, and make me a man. I want to swim in your ocean with my toes in your sand, standing strong on your shore as I become your solid land.
You’re walking down the aisle, and I’ve never been more afraid and sure. Your eyes are wide and ready with a beam of light so pure; I’m shaking and looking right into the woman who’s my cure. My bride. Take my hand and promise me your heart, looking beautiful as ever while I try not to fall apart.
“With this ring, I thee wed,” I slip it on your finger. I want this moment to last forever, so I let my movements linger.
Our family and friends are watching, but I’ve got the best view. I caress your face, look into eyes that are shining baby blue, take a deep breath, and pledge,
It’s just you and me baby, and now we get to keep our promise. Our honeymoon awaits on our island of pure solace. Just you and me baby, seven days in the Bahamas, getting drunk on your kisses with your body inside of mine. We become one this week, at least in everybody else’s eyes, but I’ve known since our gaze first met that I was yours, and you were mine.
Hiding out under white hotel sheets, with sleepy stretching to the sunrise. Morning haze and messy hair, you look more handsome than our wedding day, waking up next to the beach and a bottle of Cabernet.
We’re in our own world as of today, just you and me baby, gazing out into the ocean’s bay.
We’ll never get ready and just stay in our swimsuits. I have no time for makeup, only time to stare at your attributes, so perfect and above me. Let’s be lazy, lag out of bed, and lay on the beach, so hot and perfectly hazy. Hold my hand and don’t let go. I’ve claimed the ocean as my own, but I’ll let you into my waters as long as you let me live in your shadow.
I already know that you’ve claimed the land, so let’s bask by the sea with our toes in your sand. Our waters run deep, and my tide is always high, but you’ve taken all my waves and painted me a sunset sky.
I’m afraid of the future, but I find comfort in high noon. This week, I’ll be your sweet honey, and you’ll be my glistening moon. We’ll find comfort in the darkness on the boardwalk in the night, chasing each other through the sand and sharing our secrets through midnight. It’s dark outside, but your face is so bright, so I kiss your salty lips as we make our home by sea. Your eyes are my sunrise, and this is our forever; this is us being free.
It’s you and me baby, too in love to sleep on the first day. The daylight comes too quickly, so we leave our fantasy to grab a coffee at the Bay Side Cafe.
For the rest of our time, we enjoy careless chaos: sunburned bodies, deep-sea boat rides, drinking out of coconuts, and karaoke face-offs. Hand-in-hand, dancing only for each other in a crowd of couples in love, but we’re by far the loveliest, and people stare in awe of our aura that glows like a gift from gods above.
In our hotel room, late at night, we become tangled up like string, and our bodies dance with such passion that we can hear the angels sing. Our room is messy, and our bodies are ungroomed. We’re careless, but so beautifully in love and so marvelously consumed.
It’s you and me baby, getting lost in our honeymoon.
I don’t want it to end, but we have to go soon.
Now it’s time to become a wife who’s heart beats for her groom,
but there’s someone else now,
and it’s growing in my womb.
I’m not ready to be a father, I know I’m still so young. I’m still learning about the world everyday, and I’m not yet steady enough to raise a son.
These past nine months have been a whirlwind of emotions, and I’ve gotten to see both the whirling waves and the calm waters of my wife’s stormy ocean. It hasn’t been easy; there’s no question in that, but I guess that’s what they call devotion, and despite the late-night taco runs and hormonal emotions, it’ll all be worth it today when our baby turns our love into motion.
I am afraid. I need my wife to make it through, and my son to take his first breathe with ease, but I have no control over the circumstances, so I’ll sit by her side, praying on my knees, while I hold her hand and let her squeeze as hard as she needs to. It’s the most that I can do.
She’s taking on today as a full as a woman can be, with an at-home birth in a kiddie pool with no medication to put her at ease. She is mother nature today, taking the pain with determination in her eyes. Her will to bring our son into this earth is more than I can rationalize, but no matter what happens, my gaze will never wander away from the ocean in her eyes.
This pool is our son’s sea; a piece of her she’s passing on to him, and though it’s time to be a man, I’m not sure if I’ll sink or swim.
She’s screaming, moaning, holding onto every trace of her womanhood. Beads of sweat are rolling down from her matted hair, and I hate that I can’t take her pain-it’s so misunderstood. I want to be in her mind and know what she’s going through, but the agony written on her face will that arouses my empathy will just have to do.
You can do it baby, it’s for our little boy. Keep holding my hand and look into my eyes. Remember that we’ve created an entity of joy.
Twelve hours later of pushing and screaming, our child emerges in the water. I pull him out and cut his cord, and I can feel my aura beaming. For the first time, I feel my heart is beating to the rhythm of what we created, though I’m shaking with joy and my lungs feel like they’re deflated.
Look what we’ve created my love. He looks just like you.
She holds him in her little tub, staring into tiny eyes that are are baby ocean blue.
I’ve never been more proud of her and the miracle we created. The idea that God exists never crossed my mind until I became this captivated.
Welcome to the world, my son, I’ll love you with everything I’ve got. Granted, I feel like my abilities are short by a long shot, but someday soon, with practice and devotion, I’ll become your juggernaut.
Our boys are growing up so quickly every day. I feel as if I can’t blink without their childhood fading away. Two boys. Raising them in love has not been the easiest, but my husband has still been my steady ground, though keeping our relationship together has become uneven and tedious.
I’m different now, and I have no idea what happened. I’m depressed and anxious for no reason at all, and the sunshine in my mind has been replaced with blackness. But I get up, get dressed, and put on a smile for my boys. I can’t hide it from my husband, though, and all of his criticism has turned into nothing but white noise.
Something is wrong. I can’t help it, and I have to know what is happening. My body is always in constant motion, and the voices in my head are overwhelmingly maddening.
I’m scared to leave the house, and the doctor’s don’t know what it is. They prescribe me Xanax, Zoloft, and any other anti-psychotics that they have to give.
I think I know what it is.
Huntington’s Disease is mine. It’s as sure as the flip of coin, passed down through maternal bloodline.
My boys are at risk. If only I had known, I wouldn’t have gone through with any of this. There’s nothing the doctors can do, and now my ocean has turned into a swirling abyss.
My husband says he’ll take care of me and everything will be okay, but I know better than that. My family has to watch me decay, watch me turn into someone else, and I know they’ll resent me for it at the end of the day.
I’m sorry, my loves, but I have to go away. Wherever my mind takes me is where I’ll have to stay.
She’s different, and it grows less subtle everyday, but I promised I’d love her in sickness and in health, so I’m here to stay until our hair turns grey, and we’ll sit by the beach, I’ll hold her in my arms, and we’ll stare out at the bay.
Our boys are off to college, so now we’re on our own. Painting, re-doing the house, and suffering from empty nest syndrome. I do whatever I can to help her remember. She forgets her last name, the city we live in, and that her birthday is in November.
She never forgets her loves, though. When she’s scared, she gazes into my familiar eyes, and says that she’s home. I want to take her there. I’ve been selling my father’s antiques to save up and move her to the beach when she’ll be confined to a wheelchair. It’ll be okay. We can sit out on our porch and stare at who we are: she’s still my swirling ocean and I’m her steady shore.
We fight, and I know it’s not her fault. She’ll be drinking her tea, staring out at the sunset, and then she’ll turn and look at me, “Why are you trying to poison me? I can taste it like a dirty sea. You’re slowly trying to kill me!” So I’ll yell in my defense and tell her that she’s crazy. She’ll smash our wedding plate against me face, and five seconds later, say that she’s sorry.
I know she can’t help it, but my face isn’t half as bruised as my heart. I want my whole love back, but I only have shattered, torn parts. I’ve been trying to put the pieces back together since I knew they weren’t whole, but when I look into her eyes, I can still see her soul.
You kiss the wounds you made on my face as the sun is setting. You tell me it was an accident, and I know that you’re forgetting. It’s better for you to forget than to feel guilty, and I know you resent my anger at your outbursts.
We’re only in our fifties.
Time is not on our side, and your clock is ticking faster than mine, so I have to hold on to every waking moment as you remember our first kiss when I tasted like red wine. You’re always shaking like you’re cold, and I there’s nothing I can do to let your body rest. It’s only when you’re watching the sunrise in the east and setting in the west. The horizon is the cure to your positive test. It’s where the sea lives, and someday soon, I’ll take you there, and rid you of your unrest.
My wife. My depressed, clumsy, forgetful, anxious, crazy wife. I’ll never put you into a nursing home, because I know where you’re from. I’ll pick you up and set you on the beach, and you, me, and the ocean will become one.
Our home is the sea and our heart is the sun.
My thoughts are a mess, and I’m constantly falling: metaphorically speaking, and physically walking. The days don’t go by slowly enough. I’m smart enough to know that I’m losing myself, but too sick to know what it means to be “yourself.”
Now I am beyond the point of walking, but my husband stays my steady hand. I’m not sure if I’m still an ocean to him, but I’m certain that he’s still my unwavering land. He always will be, though I know my uncalled for fits of anger make him just as angry.
My sons come to visit less. They say that they are busy with their careers, but I can hear them telling daddy that they hate to watch me regress. I understand, sometimes. Sometimes I don’t know where I am. Sometimes I think I’m in hell, and sometimes I think I’m a kid again. Sometimes I am awake, and sometimes I think I’m in asleep, at least every now and then.
It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s a lie, and if I’m the liar or I’ve come in-tune with my third eye. It’s all a haze, and it gets foggier every day. I’m stuck in a mind that’s my own, but it’s betraying me with its decay. Physically, people think I’m fully gone, but I know better than that, at least. I am still able to love, and for my family, it only continues to increase.
My husband knows. His hand is steady against my twitching fingers, but he holds on tight. He understands my language, and he sees that in my eyes, I am still trying to fight. I promised him I would, and I stand on that rock, firm. I’ve lost all of my pride and dignity, but as for my promise, he knows there is no need for me to re-confirm.
He feeds me through a tube, changes my diapers, and showers me clean. While my mouth is mostly sealed shut, my mind still screams. I think he can hear me though, because when times like that come he always puts his hands around my face and looks me in the eyes so that I know that I’m home.
We’re moving to the beach, sometime in May. It’s always been our outspoken home, and it’s where he wants me to spend my last days. We’ll sit on our patio, looking out at the sea, reminiscing on our love story while we sip on our tea. I may be forgetful, but I’ll always remember the day that he got down on one knee, asked my to be his forever, while I anxiously agreed.
We spend our days packing, and he talks of our plans to be free. It’s you and me baby, finally living out our dreams. He still looks as beautiful as the day we first met, and we’ll spend our days wrapped up in each other’s company, and I’ll demand my mind not to forget all that he’s done for me. I promise I won’t forget. My body might be wasting away, but my mind is not ready to give up on him yet.
“We did it baby! We’re here at the ocean. I always promised you this day would come since our day of devotion. Don’t you love it baby? Look around! The noise of the crashing waves is the music of your sound. Look at the sand, the soft earth planted just for you. It’s my land that coincides with your seashore blue. My ocean eyes, oh my God, I love you. This is us baby, together forever no matter what. It’s been so lovely with you by my side. This is it, this is us. Look out the window, baby! We’re here at our home. I promise that as long as it’s just us, that you’ll never be alone.
I’ll wheel you out to bask in the sun, put your toes in the water, and let your worries come undone. Doesn’t it feel good sweetie? Isn’t this what you wanted? Don’t’ let me down now, you promised you wouldn’t! Give it a chance baby, I know the water is murky, but open your eyes now. Look! Your movements aren’t even jerky!
Honey, come on, I know that you’ll love it. It’s a lot all at once, and I know it’s a lot to stomach. Open your eyes, baby, I know you can hear me! Look me in the face and know that you’re home. We’re home. We’re home!”
The waves were still crashing and the shore was still pushing with it, but his wife had gone away to be one with the ocean. The man sobbed and picked up his love, setting her body by the shore to tell her he loved her and kiss her once more. The waves were still crashing and her tide was still high, but he stayed her solid land while he watched her face beautify.
A final, ending, infinite goodbye, but the sun continued to set in her pastel painted sky.
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