Song Of The Sea

Adam felt his feet sink into the sand as he walked along the beach, carrying his shoes. He loved the sound of the waves as they washed up the shore, the way the sand massaged his toes and most of all, the quiet solitude that held no discomfort, unlike the heavy silence that hung in the air at home. His parents’ marriage was breaking down, and in the ensuing chaos and internal warfare they had totally forgotten his seventeenth birthday. School was equally as bad, with friends and enemies alike constantly harassing him about his lack of a girlfriend. He didn’t want a girlfriend, he wanted a boyfriend, but he couldn’t tell them that or they would turn away from him in disgust and call him all sorts of names.

The waves however, listened to his troubles, continuing their song as they did every day, the one stable component in his life. He would come to the beach every day after school and walk along the deserted sands, sometimes talking out loud, sometimes humming to himself, other times simply listening to the song of the sea and taking in the fresh air. By the sea, he could be himself, and dream of a better world across the ocean that he knew did not exist – a place where even people like him could live in peace.

The wind blew a few strands of his black hair into his face and he pulled it aside. It was getting long compared to usual, but he didn’t care too much. Without his mother bothering to nag him about needing a haircut, he would just let it grow where it would. If they laughed at him at school he would just bear it. He had to learn to bear it, for they would invariably discover his secret eventually. He hoped he would leave school first, but then what? Work colleagues could be just as cruel. Some day, he would just have to take it. As long as the sea was always around to listen, he was sure he would be all right.

He sat on a rock and looked out. The day was drawing to a close. He loved to watch the sunset before going home, to see the sun die in radiant glory, only to be reborn in the morning.

He headed home, opening the door quietly. Inside he could hear his parents upstairs, screaming at each other. He hung his schoolbag on the hook, trying desperately to ignore the sinking feeling he felt whenever they yelled at each other. Going into the kitchen, he unwrapped the salad left on for him and poked it around on the plate before giving up and tossing it in the bin.

The screaming upstairs stopped and he heard heavy footsteps on the stairs and the front door slam. He waited a few minutes before climbing the stairs. He heard sobbing coming from his mother’s room but his shoulders only slumped further at the sound. He quietly slipped into his room and closed the door, and tucked himself into bed without a sound, like a shadow.

He slipped off to school in much the same way. His friends met him at the gate and they went to classes. Adam looked out of the window, wishing he could be at the sea. It wasn’t that he hated classes or learning, but he often drifted off and thought of his home life instead. Ever since his mother had lost the baby, his father and her had argued. Grief was tearing them apart, over some little seed that hadn’t even bloomed yet. Adam understood that they were upset, but did not understand their anger at each other.

“Are you listening, Adam?” A voice shot through his thoughts.

“Yes sir,” he replied.

“Then tell me, what is the answer to question three?” The teacher asked.

Adam hurriedly scanned the page for question three but couldn’t find it. The teacher rolled his eyes and picked on another student instead, and Adam made sure to look sharp for the rest of the lesson.

After school, he grabbed his bag and left quickly, before his friends nagged at him to go with them and watch the girls play after school netball. He knew he should go someday, play along and pretend he was interested in girls, but he just wanted to go to the sea and get away from it all.

When he got to the beach it had started drizzling, but it didn’t deter him from sitting there. The waves were powerful and the wind strong, but Adam liked the wild ocean. It knew how he felt – turbulent and in turmoil, when nobody else could relate to him.

He jumped when he felt a hand tap him on the shoulder, and turned around. A boy around his age was standing there, with brown hair and soft eyes. He was going to snap ‘what do you want?’ at the boy, but caught himself.

“You look cold,” the boy said, “What are you doing out here, anyway?”

“I’d rather just be left alone,” said Adam.

“I’m sorry,” said the boy, “It’s just, I found this exercise book. I wondered if it belonged to you.”

Adam looked at it and found it was one of his. Looking at his bag he saw a hole gaping in it. The bigger textbooks could not fit through the hole, but the small one had slipped through.

“Yeah, it’s mine,” Adam replied, “Thanks.” He smiled, “Sorry I was a bit sharp. I just didn’t have a great day.”

The boy sat down next to him, “Don’t worry about it,” he said, “It happens to all of us.”

“I guess,” said Adam, “I just don’t want to go home right now.”

“So stay,” said the boy, “I could use some company myself.” He held out his hand, “I’m Evan, by the way. I assume you’re Adam, since that’s what it says on the book.”

“Yeah,” said Adam, shivering. It was cold on the beach, and he pulled his legs in close to him, “So, what are you doing down here so late anyway?”

Evan lay back on the damp sand, letting the raindrops fall on his face, “I don’t want to go home.”

“Neither do I,” said Adam, “my parents are probably going to get a divorce and it’s pretty rough at home right now.” He shifted uncomfortably, wondering why he was even thinking of telling this stranger his secrets.

“Hey,” Adam said, “You’re around my age, but I’ve never seen you at my school before.”

“I go to a different school,” he said, shrugging, “A private school.”

“Oh,” replied Adam. The tide was coming in a little, “Hey, we should probably move up the beach. We don’t want to get wet.”

Evan jumped to his feet and they moved up the beach, Adam bringing his schoolbag. “It’s getting dark. You sure your parents won’t worry?”

“I’m sure,” replied Evan. They sat down again on the sand and looked out at the rising moon.

“I love the moon,” said Evan, “It’s truly a beautiful thing.” Adam nodded. He liked Evan so far; he seemed quiet and thoughtful like himself.

“I dream sometimes of an island out there, a place where I could live in peace and find true love, away from all the hatred in the world. Do you think that’s silly?” Adam said.

“Not at all,” said Evan, “I wish there was a place like that too. I’ve always been bullied in school; some days I feel so alone. I just want some happiness, someone to share things with.”

They lay back and looked at the stars. Evan knew a lot about them and pointed out various constellations to Adam, who memorized them. Adam eventually fell asleep on the soft sands and Evan watched over him.

“If only you knew,” he whispered, “how long I’ve watched you here and waited to meet you…”

He gently woke Adam, “It’s late, Adam, the tide is coming in. You’re cold too, you should go home.”

Adam gathered up his things, “Will I see you again, if I come here tomorrow?”

“Sure,” said Evan, “I’ll be waiting for you.”

“You’re not going home?” asked Adam, as he stood and Evan stayed sitting on the beach.

“Nah, I’ll go home in a while,” Evan said, “Don’t worry about me. I know this area well.”

“Okay,” said Adam, and set off home.

The house was quiet when he got in, and he ate his food without disturbance before going to bed. He couldn’t tell if his parents were in or not, he did not call or shout because he had no desire to wake them and start an argument.

He lay in his bed, looking at the ceiling, thinking of Evan. He was a boy like him, trapped in similar circumstances by the looks of it. Could it be that he’d finally found someone to confide in?

School seemed to drag the next day, as he anticipated his meeting with Evan on the beach. He was nearly spotted by his friends as he slipped away, and was glad he managed to hide without seeing them. He wondered if they were really his friends at all. Did they really have his interests at heart? Evan had sat and listened to him on the beach like none of them had listened to him in years. He couldn’t contemplate the thought of ever telling them he was gay, but he hoped to tell Evan soon, wanted to be able to confide in him his pains and fears. Was it because they had only just met that Adam did not fear his reaction? These thoughts went through his mind as he headed down to the beach, and his heart sank when he saw Evan was not there. Perhaps Evan didn’t care after all; perhaps it had just been a chance encounter that would never happen again.

He walked along the beach, feeling lonelier than ever. He knelt down to pick up a shell and turned around, sensing somebody was there. He saw Evan, dressed in the same jeans and t-shirt he had been wearing the day before.

“Evan!” Adam smiled; genuinely glad to see him again.

“That’s a better greeting than I got yesterday,” Evan grinned in return.

“Sorry about that,” Adam said, “I suppose I’m just nervous of meeting people from school.”

“You hiding a big secret you don’t want them to know?” Evan said.

“Yep,” Adam said, “If they find out, nobody will ever talk to me again. I’m looking forward to leaving next year so I never have to see any of them again.”

“That bad, huh?” Evan said, “You know, you can tell me. I promise I won’t tell anybody.”

“I feel like a five year old talking about keeping secrets,” Adam said, “This isn’t any child’s secret. I don’t have hidden treasure buried here or anything.”

“Are you saying I look five? I’m eighteen next month, you know.” Evan said.

“You’re older than I am?” Adam replied, surprised, “I only turned seventeen recently.”

“You look older than you really are,” Evan said.

“Most people say I look young, actually,” Adam replied.

“So, you want to talk about what’s bothering you?” Evan asked, “Honestly, nothing perturbs me. So tell me whatever you like. You’ll feel better, I’m sure. I always used to talk to my kid sister when I was down, but I can’t do that any more. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.”

“Well,” said Adam, settling himself down on the sand, “I think I’m gay.”

Evan laughed. Adam blushed, “Hey, don’t laugh, it’s not funny,” he said angrily.

“I’m not laughing at you,” Evan said, “I was just laughing at how alike we are.”

“You too?” Adam said, and Evan nodded.

“When I was sixteen I realized I liked boys. I don’t think my mother was very happy; she was called into my school because I was looking at another boy in the changing room. It was so embarrassing, but I had to tell her. She sent me to a different school then, and never talked about it again. I don’t think she ever really accepted it.” Evan sighed.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Adam, “All my friends are pretty homophobic. They’d never talk to me again if they knew.”

“Then they’re not real friends, are they?” Evan said.

“I guess not,” admitted Adam, “But they’re all I have.”

“It’s hard, being alone,” said Evan, “I’ve been alone for so long now. I’m really glad I met you, Adam.”

“I’m glad I met you too,” said Adam.

They were quiet then, just looking out over the ocean at the sunset, and Adam felt no surprise when Evan’s hand clasped his. He offered no resistance, for he wanted love and affection from Evan, even though he knew so little about him.

“Hey,” said Evan, “have you ever kissed a boy?”

“No,” said Adam, blushing some.

“Would you like your first kiss with me?” Evan asked.

“Well yeah, but I don’t know you very well yet…” said Adam.

“You wouldn’t want to know,” said Evan, “It’s all boring anyway.”

“I suppose mine is too,” Adam admitted, “Alright then, go on… Kiss me.”

Just then, raindrops started to fall. “Dammit,” said Adam, “this is going to be a heavy one. I can’t let my school books get wet or I’ll be in trouble.”

“Saved by the bell,” Evan smiled.

“Why don’t you ever bring books or wear uniform, anyway?” Adam asked.

“I go home and get changed, first,” said Evan, “I really hate my uniform.”

Evan grabbed Adam’s bag and they made their way up the beach. The rain got heavier and they were getting wet through to the bones.

“Up there, on the rocks, there’s a cave,” Evan said, “I’ve known it ever since I was little. We can get shelter up there.”

They hurried up and off the path, Evan leading the way. He eventually slipped between a crack in two rocks and Adam struggled to follow.

“Hey, it’s dark in here, I can’t see a thing!” Adam cried, as something covered the small crack that was the entrance.

“Hang on,” said Evan, and Adam could hear a match being lit and an oil lamp flared up and filled the small cave with a warm glow. Adam looked around. He could see a sleeping bag on the floor, a few shopping bags with food in, a curtain over the entrance. Someone was living in the cave…

“Evan, you live here?” Adam asked.

“I told you that you wouldn’t want to know,” said Evan.

“So everything you told me… that was all lies?” Adam rounded angrily on Evan.

“I’m sorry,” said Evan, “Nobody can know I’m living here. I can’t even tell you why.”

“Did you parents throw you out for being gay? Or was that a lie too?” Adam asked.

“That was no lie, and no, they didn’t… Please Adam, please just trust me. I can’t tell you the truth right now but I will, eventually. Please don’t leave me alone again. I need your friendship.” Evan sighed.

“All right,” Adam said, “I suppose I’ll have to. If you’re stuck here, then you need my help, right? I’d offer you space at my house, but things there are volatile and I can’t afford to start another fight.”

“I’m really quite all right here,” said Evan, “but thanks. Really, all I need is food and something warmer to wear. I found a small amount of money and bought a few groceries, but that was all I had.”

“I’ll see what I can do, then,” said Adam, “I’m sorry you ended up in this situation.”

“Don’t be,” said Evan, “It’s not your fault. I’m honestly glad I met you, Adam, and not just for food and clothing. Just to be able to share things with somebody…”

The rain seemed to have set in outside, and Adam moved forward and took Evan’s hand.

“Where are we going?” asked Evan, “It’s freezing out there!”

“I want to claim that kiss,” Adam said, “If you still want to.”

“Only if you keep my secret,” said Evan.

“It’s a deal,” said Adam.

They went out into the rain, the cold drops falling on their skin and keeping them awake. They were nervous, but Evan gently claimed Adam’s lips and the kiss grew deeper as they went from a chaste kiss into a deeper exploratory kiss, tongues seeking each other. Adam felt a wave of desire spread through him and he rubbed up against Evan, the two boys moaning into each other’s mouths. Then he was afraid of himself, and pulled away.

“Why did you stop?” asked Evan.

“I… I have to go,” said Adam, and he ran from the beach, forgetting his school bag, pushing everything from his mind. He had to get home; he had to get away from his own desires. Too much had happened in one day for him to comprehend, and he didn’t look back. If he did, he feared he would go back, feared he would beg Evan to touch him everywhere, no matter his dark secrets. No, he had to go home, had to get away.

He arrived home dripping wet, without his bag, exhausted. His father was waiting for him, sitting in his big armchair.

“Adam, where have you been?” he asked, in an accusatory tone.

“Out,” said Adam. He had no intentions of telling his father where he had been, his father who had shown nothing but cruelty to his mother in recent times. Adam wasn’t afraid of him.

“How dare you speak in such an insolent tone to me?” his father bellowed, getting up from his chair, “How did I ever bring a loser, layabout son into the world like you! Always dreaming, always out, never working hard like I’ve worked hard. I wanted a good son who would own his own business, not a lazy ponce like you!” He raised his hand to Adam, and Adam felt a fist meet his jaw as he was knocked backwards into the wall. He heard his mother scream from the top of the stairs, but was too dazed to respond.

“I found this in your room!” his father said, pulling out his folder of carefully written poems and throwing it down on the table. “Poems! Worse than that, poems about men!” Adam winced, he had hoped the poems hadn’t been so obvious, but they had been such a catharsis to him he’d written and written, and somewhere along the line had slipped up and given the game away.

“I will not have a poof son!” he yelled, and rounded on Adam again. Adam put his arms up over his head, and he heard his mother come forward.

“Please, Bert, that’s enough! If you’re angry, be angry at me, but don’t touch Adam!”

Bert turned around and stalked off up the stairs, going to his bedroom.

“Are you all right?” his mother said.

“Yeah, I’m ok, don’t worry about me,” Adam said, “I’m going to go to bed now,” he said, and took his dinner to his bedroom.

He was up early the next morning, and realized he’d left his school bag behind with Evan. He sat and thought, and realized that he couldn’t just leave Evan; they needed each other.

He pulled some clothes from his wardrobe that looked like they’d fit Evan, and dressed in his school uniform. Grabbing some food from the fridge, he left a message saying he was heading to school early and left. They might think he was missing and go looking for him, but he doubted it. His mother seemed to sleep the days away in her bed, while his father worked long hours at the office and had already left.

He got to school and looked through the gates. It was still early enough that he could go down to the beach and see Evan, get his bag and return to school without missing much, so he decided to go and set off for the beach.

He went up to Evan’s cave and called softly through the crack, “Evan?” He heard a deep coughing in reply and slipped inside.

“Hey, Evan, you okay?” He went over to where Evan was sleeping curled up in his sleeping bag and touched his arm; it was freezing.

“I don’t feel too great,” said Evan, “but don’t worry. I’m glad you came back. Hey, what happened to your eye?” Adam touched the sore spot near his eye and realized that his whole eye was swollen, probably in a black bruise.

“My father hit me,” Adam said, “he found some poetry I’d written. He knows, Evan, he knows I’m gay. I don’t know if I can go home again.” He didn’t realize it, but now tears were welling in his eyes, falling down his cheeks. Evan sat up and pulled him close, cradling him as he cried.

“I’m sorry, Adam,” he said, gently rubbing his back, “Stay here with me today. Don’t go to school or go home to your parents, we’ll just have the perfect day. Maybe when you return home, people will realize that they missed you.”

“I don’t want to worry anyone, Evan,” Adam said.

“It’s only a day,” said Evan, “Please.” He shivered, and Adam held him tightly.

“You’re freezing,” he said, “Are you sick?”

“I might be,” Evan said, “It’s been really cold in here overnight.”

“I brought you some dry clothes and some food,” Adam said, and emptied out his bag. Evan picked up the clothes and pulled off his old shirt, throwing it to Adam, who stuffed it in his bag. He could perhaps take it home and wash it at a later date. Adam turned away as Evan undressed totally, and Evan laughed.

“Are you really that embarrassed?” asked Evan, “There’s nothing wrong with wanting me, you know.”

Adam blushed, “You don’t understand,” he said, “I’ve never done it before. I don’t even know anything about you, not really! I want to fall in love before that.”

“You’re sweet,” said Evan, “I agree, love is important. I suppose I assumed that because I already fell in love with you, that you would love me too. I’m sorry.”

“We just haven’t known each other that long… how can you be in love with me already?” asked Adam.

“I guess this sounds kind of creepy, but I’ve been watching you for a while. You always looked so lonely, down there on the beach. I… I wanted to win your heart, to ease that pain. I felt I had found somebody like me.” Evan said, “You are… like me. I even used to write poetry. So I feel like I do already know you. You don’t know me, however. I can appreciate that.”

“I never noticed anyone watching me,” said Adam, “but then, I never knew this cave was here.”

“Well, you can turn around now,” Evan said. Adam did, and had to admit, the clothes he’d picked really suited Evan. The t-shirt was tight, pulling on his chest, and the jeans showed off his ass. Adam felt his breathing grow heavier and looked away.

“They look good on you,” he said. Adam took some of the other clothes out of his bag and changed out of his school uniform, which would only attract attention to the fact that he should be in school, if anybody saw them.

They ate a small breakfast with some of the food Adam had brought, and then checking nobody was about, went out onto the beach. Adam felt guilty about missing school, as a cursory glance of his watch reminded him that his friends would be in English lessons, but he also did not miss the fact that he would have been hounded with questions about his black eye. He finally took off the watch and put it in his pocket so he wouldn’t look.

They built sandcastles and knocked them down, and drew words of poetry in the sand. Adam recited some of his poems from memory, and Evan smiled and recalled some of his. They made lunch a picnic outside, and laughed as sand got in their sandwiches. The day was warm, and in the afternoon they curled up in each other’s arms and took a nap on the warm sand, Evan keeping one eye open for the tide.

Adam woke to a soft hand on his face, “Adam, the sun is setting,” Evan said softly, “I want to watch it with you.”

Adam held Evan close and stroked his hair as they watched the sunset go down, “I had a beautiful day,” he said, “I didn’t think about anything else but you.”

“I wish I could stay here forever,” Evan said, “I’m so happy right now.”

“Me too,” said Adam, as the last rays of sunlight disappeared.

“I suppose I should go home and tell my parents where I’ve been,” Adam said, picking himself up and dusting off the sand. He took Evan in for a deep kiss and picked up his bag.

“Wait, Adam,” Evan said.

“What?” Adam said, turning around.

“Do you… love me?” Evan asked. The wind tousled his hair and even in the darkness, Adam could still see the beauty that took his breath away.

“Yes, Evan,” said Adam, “I love you.” Then he dropped his bag on the ground and hurried back to Evan, taking him in his arms, kissing him passionately.

“Let me stay with you tonight,” Adam asked, “I want to be with you.”

“I want you to stay, too,” Evan replied, and they sat down on the beach again. There was an awkward silence, broken by the sound of Evan coughing. “You sure you’re alright?” Adam asked, concerned.

“Yeah, just a cold I think, don’t worry about it.” It broke the silence, and Evan leaned in for a kiss.

“We should go inside, then,” Adam said.

“I’d rather we stayed here. The sound of the ocean, and the feel of the sand… It’s like home to me. The cave is just a place to sleep.” Evan said.

They went back to kissing, then, and Adam felt his trembling hands run down Evan’s chest through his shirt, rub up his back. Their kisses became heavier and their breathing more laboured, and they pulled off each other’s clothing quickly, Adam kissing every inch of Evan’s chest like a man possessed, Evan moaning and caressing Adam through his trousers before stopping and pulling them off. Evan’s hungry look only excited Adam more, and they rubbed their bodies together in ecstasy, crying out into the night, not caring if anybody heard.

“Please Evan, touch me everywhere,” Adam begged in a hoarse whisper, and then words were no more, there was only the sound of the ocean, and the sounds of two men making love.

Morning came all too soon, and Adam opened his eyes to see himself still on the very top edge of the beach. He was alone, and dressed in his uniform, although he had no recollection of dressing. He pulled himself to his feet quickly and looked around for Evan, but saw no sign of him. He headed up to the cave and slipped in, but he didn’t find Evan. Instead, he saw a piece of paper ripped from one of his exercise books on the floor, with a hastily scribbled message on it:

“Adam, I need you to go to the address written on this paper. I am sorry I am not with you this morning, but if I see you my resolve will crumble and you will not learn what you deserve to know. I love you, Adam. Please find out the truth and return here.”

Underneath was a scribbled address: 144 Baker Street. Adam knew the road; he walked down it every day to get to school. A knot formed in his stomach, he knew the secret had to be bad but what could it be? Perhaps he would find out why Evan was living in this cave alone.

He put on his shoes and took his bag, leaving the cave with care. He wanted to run to Baker Street, but did not want to arouse suspicion, and so walked like anybody heading to school would.

He found the house with no trouble, a regular Victorian terraced house on the main road. He knocked on the door, but got no answer. Just as he was about to leave, the door swung open.

“What is it?” A middle-aged woman asked. She looked somewhat like Evan, the same mousy brown hair and brown eyes.

“Evan told me to come here. He gave me the address. He said that you would tell me his secret.” Adam said.

The woman’s face turned pale, “Give me that!” she said, ripping the piece of paper from his hand and looking it over. Adam thought she was going to go inside and slam the door, but instead she burst into tears.

“When did you last see him?” she demanded, sniffling.

“Last night,” he said, “He’s living in a cave on the beach.”

She looked at the paper again, “This is definitely his handwriting, so take me to him. But if you’re playing a trick on me, I’ll report you to the police.”

Adam didn’t even know if Evan wanted to see his mother, but he had no choice but to go with her now. Evan had told him to come here, so he’d just have to bear the consequences.

They hurried to the beach, not talking, not caring if they hurried along and attracted attention. Adam wanted, needed to know what was going on. A million questions raced through his mind. Would they argue when they saw each other? What secret could be so terrible that Evan, who’d said he loved him, could not even bring himself to tell? Butterflies formed and fluttered in his stomach, and a feeling of sickness filled him. What if Evan went home to his mother and forgot about him? He was so afraid of losing Evan, now that he’d fallen in love with him.

They reached the beach, and hurried down, Evan’s mother gasping for breath. Evan was waiting there, by the sea. He turned to look at them. He looked pale, fearful, but when he spoke his voice was calm.

“Adam, Mother, I’m glad you made it here.” Evan said.

“What’s going on, Evan? Your mother didn’t tell me anything!” Adam cried. Evan’s mother was silent, appeared to be processing something.

“Mother,” said Evan, “it’s really me.”

“Evan.?” his mother asked, “Evan, how?”

Evan shook his head, “I owe Adam an explanation first. Adam, five years ago, on this very beach, my younger sister and me went out on the sea in a dinghy. But in high winds, it capsized, and I was thrown into the sea. My sister managed to hold onto the dinghy and survived, but I…” he stuttered for a moment, “I drowned, Adam. I’m dead.”

“What?” said Adam? “How is that possible? You’re warm, I can hold you, touch you…”

His mother started to cry, “How is it, Evan? Are you a ghost? I thought this boy was lying to me, but I longed to see you so much that I had to go with him. I haven’t even been able to clear out your things, your sister blames herself and is still bitter.”

“I made a wish,” said Evan, “in my dying moments, and it was granted by an unseen force. For years I waited until the wish could be fulfilled, invisible for all, watching, waiting, wondering if I had done the right thing. Then, one day, I saw Adam walking along the beach, talking to the sea, and I knew he was the one that I would use my wish for.”

“What did you wish for?” asked Adam.

“I wished to be loved,” said Evan, “I feared having a relationship because I thought everyone would reject me for it. When I died, it was my regret that I had never found someone I truly loved. However, even wishes have limited power. I could only be brought back to life for four days, and only once. If my efforts to be loved failed, then I would have gone onto my eternal sleep regardless.”

“No,” said Adam, “Please tell me you’re not…”

“I cannot hide it,” said Evan, “I am dying. Today is my final day upon this world. My wish has been fulfilled, but I fear I only leave more pain behind me. Perhaps it was a selfish wish, Adam, but I love you. I truly want to see you attain happiness. Every moment has been precious to me.”

Adam started to cry, rushing forward and holding Evan tightly. Evan’s mother came forward.

“Evan,” she said, “I only wanted you to be happy. The reason I took you out of that school is that I wanted you to be older before you made such huge decision about your life. I didn’t want you to have any regrets, or look back in sorrow. Your father died with so many regrets, Evan. I just didn’t want you to suffer.”

“Mother,” said Evan, “I know you were only trying to help. I don’t want you to feel bad about the accident. Please tell Eliza it wasn’t her fault, either. It was just fate.” He coughed deeply, and Adam supported him, rubbing his tearstained face into Evan’s shoulder. “Mother, I want you to know I am happy. My life here is complete now. Although I would love to live another fifty years, that is not possible. I’ll always be watching you.”

Evan’s mother turned away, “Thank you, Evan, I can continue with my life now, having seen you one last time. I wondered for years if it had been an act of suicide, but now, talking to you, I know it was an accident. I can rest, now. I’ll tell Eliza, even if she never believes me.” She began to walk away. “Goodbye, Evan,” she said, “I am glad you found happiness in your final hours.” Then she was gone, hurrying away.

“She doesn’t want to see me die. Or perhaps she’s letting us have some time alone.” Evan said, between coughs.

“I don’t want you to leave me, Evan,” said Adam, “I need you in my life. What will I do, about my family? How will I live without you?”

“Go home and face them,” Evan said, “be proud of yourself and don’t bend to the will of others about who you are. Only you really know that. Live each day to the fullest, and most of all, don’t forget… forget me.” His breathing was raspy now, “Adam, I love you. I wish we had had more time. I am sorry I couldn’t tell you sooner, but I wanted a day of true happiness, unfettered by thoughts of death and parting.”

“I’ll never forget you, Evan,” Adam said, kissing Evan though his tears. Evan became weak, and Adam helped to lay him down on the ground.

“I have… a request,” he said, “Adam, take my body out to sea. It’s where I belong now. I washed up on the shore that first day, and now I need to return… please…”

“I’ll do it,” he said “I’ll always love you, Evan,” and he heard a whispered “I love you too” before Evan’s grip on his hand went slack and his eyes stared out at the sky.

Evan’s mother returned, crying over the body of her son. Adam explained that Evan wanted to be buried at sea and she nodded, her eyes full of grim determination to fulfill her son’s last wish.

“I’ll take his body up to the cave,” Adam said, wiping away his tears, “bring a boat here at sundown. He loved the sunset, and less people will be around then.”

So at sunset he bought Evan’s body out and laid it in the small rowing boat. Adam went with Evan, leaving Evan’s mother behind on the shore, rowing the boat out into the sunset. When he reached a good distance out, he picked up Evan’s body, lowering him into the water with a sandbag tied to him so he would remain there for all time, as he had wished.

He rowed the boat back alone, tears streaming down his face for the man he loved. He had never imagined that Evan would die, the thought had never entered his mind, and the weight was like a crushing blow to the soul. Yet they had loved each other, and given to each other, and despite the pain in his heart Adam did not regret a moment of their love. He knew, in time, that it would be a memory to guide him and one he would cherish for the rest of his days, and that the pain would subside and perhaps someday, he would love again.

He never wanted to love anybody as much as he had loved Evan.

Adam entered his house late, to find his mother sitting on the sofa, her face composed.

“I’m glad you came home, Adam. I was hoping you’d come home on your own.” She said.

“Where’s Father?” Adam asked.

“He’s gone, forever,” she said, the relief evident in her voice, “He took his things and left. It’s not going to be easy financially, but it’s for the best, Adam.”

Adam nodded, “I’ll return to school tomorrow. I’m sorry if I worried you.” He went to head up to his room.

“Wait,” his mother said, “I don’t mind, Adam, I accept you for who you are. No matter what your father said, I’m not ashamed of you, ok?”

“Thanks, mother,” Adam said, and went up to his room.

A few days later, he was heading to school when he passed Evan’s old home. He stopped and knocked on the door, not knowing what the reaction would be. Would Evan’s mother disbelieve everything she had seen, or had she accepted it? He had to know, and so he called.

“Oh, Adam,” Evan’s mother said, answering the door, “I have something for you. Just a minute.” She went into her hallway and rooted in a box, one of many that were in the room.

“I finally cleared out Evan’s things,” she said, “and I thought you might like something to remember him by.” She handed him a framed photo, and saw the tears welling up in his eyes.

“Thank you,” he said. “You don’t know how much this means to me.”

“He would have wanted you to have it, I think,” she said, “We took this photo the day he died. For many years I could not stand to look at it, but it was the Evan you remember, so I want you to have it. Anything else you would like or anything you need at all, even if you just want to chat, come by any time.”

“Thanks,” Adam said, choked up. He put the photo carefully in his bag and went to school, not caring if people looked at his yellowing bruise or puffy red eyes.

After school, he found himself on the beach, looking at Evan’s photo, listening to the song of the sea, their song. For he knew whenever he heard the sound of the waves, Evan was with him, in spirit and memory.

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