II. Beguile the Time

The sea breeze was gentle, but her words harsh. How could she lean so lovingly against his shoulder and whisper those things in such an affectionate tone? It started with a harmless musing.

“Why do you think ‘love’ and ‘live’ differs by only one letter?” She said in a dreaminess as she tugged at blades of grass.

He did not want to point out that there are many words that also fit the description of being different by a single letter, so prompted her on instead, “Why?”

“You take out the ‘o,’ the literary interjection out from ‘love’, and substitute it with ‘i’ to get ‘live’.”

“Do you mean love is foolish and the desire to live is selfish?”

“No…I don’t know…”

Silence veering on the edge of discomfort settled between them, and she broke it with a subtle reach for his hand in what he thought was to sought affection, but realized otherwise when a cold, hard surface of a small metallic…no, stone…was pressed into his palm.

“I can’t keep this any longer, Soulran,” Her dreaminess took up a nightmarish quality as she continued, her hand still lightly laid over his. “I…am to be engaged.” She got up, leaving him grounded by the weight of her revelation. “I’m sorry, but I hope that you would understand.”

He won’t: as she started her abrupt leave he sprung upon his feet and grabbed her hand, “What on earth? What of your feelings?”…and mine?

Did he truly amount to nothing even though she meant everything to him? Impossible. The glimmer in her eyes, her smiles that won’t fade, and the words poured from her heart cannot all be a part of a cruel trick. Yet within him, a voice reminded him with the wisdom of a spectator that this should have been expected: he has nothing of this world compared to the poorest of her suitors. Even though she was never one to judge on such materialistic basis, she was a sensible being in possession of a family to care for, a name to uphold; what can a nameless man like him do other than undermining her roles in life? What business had he to even behold her noble visage?

He realized that he still held her cold, delicate hand, and that she did not deign to answer his inquiries, so he convinced himself to let go.

She went forward a few steps, stopped, persuaded herself to not look back and said flatly, “Goodbye,” before disappearing out of his sight. He was stupefied by unnamed turmoil, staring without comprehension why the ring, his mother’s keepsake, looked so alien in his hand. He pretended the slight warmth of the ring was hers, and that he could preserve it simply by holding onto it forever.

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