‘I can’t believe it’s our last night here. It’s gone so quickly, Cin. It’s scary!’ I feel sad to the bottom of my stomach.
‘I know, it always flies by when you’re having fun.’ She winks at me. ‘So, what are you going to do when we get back?’
‘I don’t know, and I really can’t think about it right now.’ We are in the room, finishing packing and getting ready for the evening.
‘Fine, but you know I’ll ask you again. You need to have a plan, Mad. It’s a big thing to go back to an empty house.’
‘And an empty life,’ I interject, ‘I know.’ I feel a bit deflated.
‘You have to fill it with something. You need a project, you need a dream.’
‘I know,’ and I walk out to the patio to pick up my bikini which is dry by now. I don’t really want to think about the future, because it means this is over and I still have one last evening. I want to make the most of it, and then I will allow myself to break down good and proper.
‘You know,’ Cindy calls after me from inside the room ‘you might surprise yourself and start looking at life in a completely different light.’
Any light would be better than the shadows I have been living in for the past three years. ‘Maybe.’ I retort.
‘Ready, lasses?’ I’m still thinking about the grey light in my life when Greg appears in front of me.
‘Hey. Yes, nearly there. Give us a few minutes!’
‘Sure, lass. I’ll just be over in reception when you girls are ready.’ And he moves off swiftly.
He is very agile considering his bulk. He is wearing his trademark bush shorts with a million and one pockets, dark green for tonight. A blue T-shirt and black sandals complete his look. He always looks comfortable and at ease. I like Greg, and I like it that Cindy likes him. I wonder what their plans are for the future.
’I expect we can have our “last supper” at White Sands, so Maddy can see her chap. Is that okay with both of you?’
I blush like a teenager. How can Greg be so in tune with my feelings?
‘Thank you guys, I owe you.’ I say, meaning every word of it and blushing in the darkness.
‘Not much of a sacrifice really, lass. The food is good there,’ and he tightens his grip around Cindy’s shoulders as they turn the corner at the end of the old wall. I can see her tightening her grip around his waist too, and looking up to his face. What is it I see in her expression? It’s a rare sight to see Cindy in a rapture of emotions. Sometimes I think she tries too hard to suppress all the feelings that come up. She needs to control them as she could not control her dad leaving. Greg being able to crack the screen is very good, very good indeed. I smile and round the corner after them.
For the last time, I’m catapulted into a scene of immense beauty. The lights, the stars, the moon, the ocean, the background music. It all feels like a dream. A dream that is about to end... I try not to think that tomorrow I will not be here, and I plaster a cheery smile on my face.
Dinner is indeed delicious, and plenty of drinks accompany it.
‘Well, it’s our last night, and we must celebrate,’ Cindy insists.
The restaurant is busy, and Kiri can’t steal any time to come over, so we just keep smiling at each other like demented teenagers, while he zooms back and forth to the kitchen. Luckily Sanka is busy too, and he is not in charge of our table. I can see him brooding in the corner, but I try not to look in his direction. I wonder why he seems always to want to get one up on Kiri.
When the clients have dwindled down to only half a dozen tables, Kiri comes over. He kneels next to my chair, takes my hand and whispers: ‘You look beautiful, Maddy. I’m so glad we’re together. I love you.’
Before I can answer, he is back up and walking away toward the bar.
I can’t wait for the last customers to make their way to the beach or back to their hotels, and I intensely wish them away.
It is nearly 11 p.m. when they call last orders and Kiri can finally relax. He hasn’t had his dinner yet, so we move to a different table and I keep him company while he tries to force feed me.
‘I’ve been eating the whole evening, I can’t eat any more. That’s your food.’ I protest.
He nods, still holding his hand inches from my mouth. I watched him as he expertly gathered the rice and vegetables around with his fingers and balled them all up into the mouthful he is holding up for me.
‘Keep me company, Maddy.’ And I give in. I part my lips and allow his fingers to slide close and feed me. It’s such an intimate and sensual gesture.
‘Hey, you two lovebirds!’ Cindy calls from the beach ‘We are off. See you later. Oh, actually, Kiri. Better say goodbye. We are leaving in the morning.’ She starts toward the stairs to join us.
‘I’ll come to the hotel to wave you off in the morning, madam. I’ll see you then.’
And with that Cindy nods, smiles and turns back to join Greg on the seashore. I follow them with my eyes. They are holding hands and carry their sandals with their free hands. Their joint arms are swinging lightly backward and forward, their feet splashing in the foamy end of the waves. How romantic!
We have been sitting on the beach for more than two hours now, holding each other tight and whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears. I don’t think I have had moments like this, not even as a teenager, not even with Ben. My heart bursts. How can I leave this behind? I feel so much love for this young man. His vulnerability, his history, his sweetness, even his moodiness, all speak to my inner being. The connection between us is…
‘…so deep, Maddy, I’ve never felt like this before in my life.’
And he gives voice to my exact feelings. I look back into his eyes, and all I can do is pull him to me and hold him tight. He lifts his head and kisses me. A deep electric shock runs through me. I want this man so badly.
‘I’ll wait for you forever, I told you before. I really mean it, Maddy.’
I’m glad he is not expecting anything else, even though I’m sure I would have crumbled and given in, if only he had asked. But I feel our relationship is even more special, if that is possible, because he is not with me for the physical pleasure.
‘What are we going to do?’
His eyes are looking into mine, pleading. The moonlight is reflected in them, and they sparkle. A deep sadness in them.
‘I don’t know.’ I admit, and all I can do is hold him tight.
We sleep on the beach till the first light of the sun shines on our tangled bodies. I prop myself up onto one elbow and look down at him. He is still sleeping, his eyes adorned by the beautiful long curls of his lashes, a serene smile curving his full lips. My heart hurts. I kiss him gently, and he opens his big brown eyes.
‘Good morning.’ And he stretches lazily before pulling my head to him and kissing me full on the lips.
‘I’ll walk you to your hotel, then I have a few things to do. I’ll be back before you leave.’
The walk back to the hotel feels like a funeral wake. I really don’t want to go. The sky is the most playful pinks, reds and yellows, and the birds are welcoming the new day with excitement and cheerfulness. I don’t share any of it.
I hesitate before getting to the hotel. I stand there and continue waving him goodbye until he turns the corner leading to the main road and disappears.
In the room everything is exactly as I left it last night, ready to go. I discard my sandy blue dress and jump in the shower. I close my eyes and let the water run over me. I don’t want to think.