Sand and Stars

The late evening sun is almost touching the horizon as they walk together on the beach. Fingertips entwined, leaving two fleeting lines of footprints in the soft caramel sand; the sinuous, lazy amble of two souls with infinite time and no destination. The act of sharing time and space is the only thing that matters.

They pick their way along the strand line, negotiating the thin band of natural jetsam carried to land by the encroaching tide. He watches her skip nimbly over a warped piece of sun-bleached driftwood and thinks that he could exist for millennia and not find anyone more perfect. The sunlight makes her hair gleam like burnished gold, a stark contrast to her porcelain skin. Her face is a poet’s dream, deep green eyes and a crooked, knowing smile framing a flawless button nose, faint freckles her reward for a day spent under the sun. She thinks her freckles are ugly, but they make his heart sing.

The sun dips below the horizon as a distant lighthouse oscillates slowly, warning ships of the perilous rocky outcrops obscured by the waves at high tide. The brilliant white beam appears to glimmer as photons refract through droplets of spray, creating ephemeral rainbows that they alone can see. They stop and sit together on the sand, watching the amaranth sky fade to black as the fleet of distant fishing boats become scattered points of light.

His dopamine-flooded mind is acutely aware of his surroundings, and he pays abnormal attention to the sand beneath his hands and feet. He scoops up a fistful and lets the grains slowly fall through his fingers, tiny fragments of ancient life. He tries and fails to imagine how many grains of sand there are, but he knows that the number is unimaginably huge. A fitting metaphor for the way he feels about her.

She pays no attention to the sand, instead gazing up into the darkening sky. She has been fascinated by the night sky since she was young, and as the stars slowly reveal themselves she can identify familiar constellations. She speaks the names of the galaxies, stars and planets out loud, her imagination travelling light years deep into endless space. She struggles to comprehend the vastness of the universe, but she thinks that her love for him might be comparatively vast.

They lay together on the warm sand, close enough to be aware of each other’s every subtle movement. Caught between the sand and the stars they marvel at the unlikeliness of their two souls sharing the same microscopic fragment of spacetime, and at the near impossibility of finding each other in the unending eons that stretch before and after that moment. Like Andromeda and the Milky Way, destined to collide since time began.

The sudden realisation of the impossibility of it all. That might just be what love is.

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