As narrated by Amz:
“Talk,” I say, pulling the duvet over Dee before settling down next to her and focusing my attention on Zee.
He’s looking at Dee but when I speak, his gaze shifts.
He sighs, rubs his eyes and then takes a deep breath.
“I was at the beach – ”
I cut him off.
“Start at the beginning,” I say.
“I came the same night everything went upside down,” he says. “It was all just too much, I think.”
He goes on to explain to me how he’s been in Durban for a week now, and how every night he’d go for a walk on the beach.
He doesn’t have to tell me why that beach specifically. That I know.
It’s our squad’s favourite beach.
When we’d been roadtripping a few years ago, milkylane and a walk was a must, every night. On that beach.
I focus my attention back on Zee.
“I followed her as she walked down the pier. I don’t know what she was thinking – they haven’t done the lighting for that pier yet, it was dark and windy.
I was only a few feet behind her as she reached the end and sat down on the railing. I almost yelled at her right then, but it would have startled her.”
Dee always sits on dangerous places – railings, walls, window frames, fencing. And every time I tell her to be careful.
“She sat for a long time, and it began raining in the interim. I was growing more and more worried with each passing second but just when I decided to get her attention the wind snatched her beanie.”
My mind plays out the scene.
“She lifted her hands to catch it and lost her balance.
Amz I was literally behind her, all my senses alert, for the entire time that she sat there, but the moment she fell I just couldn’t move.”
My heartbeat picks up as he explains to me what went down in the minutes that followed.
Tongue-tied and shell-shocked I can only stare at him wide-eyed.
“And she just wouldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know what to do, that’s when I called you.”
I have no words.
“Why didn’t you tell me you’ll here?” he asks.
“We only got here this afternoon,” I say quietly.
“You didn’t tell us you’re here either,” I add a moment later, catching his gaze.
“I know,” he says. “I’m sorry. It’s been a rough week.”
A long moment of silence passes.
Zee is watching Dee.
I’m watching him.
He looks like he hasn’t slept in a while, like he hasn’t laughed in a while.
Different. He looks different. Not like the Zee I know.
And just like that, it hits me.
“Zee,” I say.
He turns to look at me again.
“You love her, don’t you?”
His hand going to push his hair off his forehead freezes.
His eyes slowly widen.
And then he blinks.
“What?!” he gasps, his voice a shocked whisper.
His hand drops to his side as he stares at me.
“Dee,” I say, tilting my head slightly to where she lays sleeping, but never looking away from his face. “You love her, don’t you?”
“I… what?! No! I mean.. yes, yes, obviously I do,” he says all in one breath.
I almost smile.
“No. You love her,” I say, not asking this time.
“Is that it?” he asks quietly after a long moment of staring at me in confused surprise. “Is that what this feeling is? I love her?”
“You tell me,” I say.
“I.. I don’t know,” he says. “I don’t know if I love her but I do know that I want her to be happy.
I want to see her smiling for as long as she lives, and I want to be the reason behind her smile.
I want to hear her laugh for as long as I live and I want to be the reason behind that too.
I want to see her accomplish her goals, to achieve her dreams. I want to tick off things from her bucket list with her.
I want to heal her wounds and be her hope. I want to wipe her tears and never be the reason behind them. I want to teach her to be happy with herself, to let go of the guilt of the past. I want to hold her till the day birds can’t fly.
I don’t know if I love her but had she hit the ocean tonight I’d have been right behind her.
I don’t know if I love her but I do know that I never want to see her sad. She’s sad now, and it’s because of me and the thought alone makes it difficult to breathe. Amz I’ll do anthing, anything, whatever it takes to make her happy. If only she’ll give me a second chance. I know that right now she hates me, and it’s slowly killing me.
I don’t know if I love her but I do know that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to change that, to see her smile again, to hear her laugh again, to allow me to hold her again.
I don’t know if I love her. All I know is that I want her to be happy – to be the happiest person alive.”
This time I smile.
Through my tears, I smile, until my cheeks hurt.
And it’s the best pain I’ve felt all week.