They were sitting on the cliff watching the sea green surf left behind by the waves as they crashed onto the rocks. The silence between them was the comfort of a decade long friendship. She looked at the sea green surf and thought what a lovely color it will be for a dress and smiled. He looked at the waves breaking on the rock and fought to push back the rage that was building up inside him.
Friendships are strange, they begin in strange places, with the strangest people, making strange demands. Some age like wine to be priceless, while some turn sour and end for strange reasons at strange times. They could never pinpoint, when and how they had become friends. They had passed each other on the hallway of their college for years as strangers, occasionally stopping to smile or to exchange a few words. The acquaintance had turned into a friendship over emails when they were miles apart.
They proved the quote “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” completely wrong. She lived her life with a dare, abandoning all caution, while he watched every step he took constantly evaluating the consequences. The contrast in their personalities had helped them to draw strength from one other and they had become unexpected mentors to each other.
“There are always better things, better choices and better options, but we have to stop and settle for what we have in hand”, he said angrily at her reckless abandonment of care and wondered how he could stop her.
“I don't think so”, she said watching the shimmering ocean.
“He is not a bad guy and he really cares about you.”
“I know, but I am not the right girl for him and will never be”, she said
“It is not your decision to make. If he is happy with you, what is the problem?”
“He is happy now but will not be for ever. I can never be the girl he wants nor do I want to”, the calmness inside her as she spoke was reassuring.
“Are you not worried about him?”
“No. He will get over it, eventually”. She knew she had to stay detached and protect herself first.
She had always looked happy in her relationship and he knew the problems in her relationship wasn't really significant, not like the terrible fights he had with Joanne . Joanne's bouts of jealousy were intense and he was tired of walking on eggshells around her. It made him angry to think how he struggled constantly not to trigger any episodes of jealousy in Joanne by being careful to not even strike a casual conversation with any women. Going out to parties had become such a stressful event that he avoided them and kept his social outings to a safe group of people whom Joanne was comfortable with.
The spray of water from the ocean cleared the dulling thoughts and a warmth spread over him as he looked at his friend sitting next to him waiting anxiously for the Sunset. He admired her strength and knew very few people who could live life with such zest. He felt the pangs of guilt in his heart. He knew he had consciously taken a step back from her friendship, avoided calling her from home and last year when she had fallen sick, he was not there for her. Joanne had screamed at first and then wallowed like a child throwing an emotional tantrum when he mentioned that he wanted to make a trip to visit her in the hospital. To calm things down he had finally agreed to drop the plan. Even today he had made an excuse about working late at home to avoid any flareups.
He wondered if he was being unfair and judging his friend while he really had not been in touch with her like he used to be for the last two years. He was not sure if he really understood the gravity of her relationship issues to think that she was throwing it all away over some minor inconveniences. A vague thought ran across his mind that maybe he was actually angry at the fact that she had the courage to walk away while he felt he was chained and had no choice. He wondered if and ever he will be able to walk away from Joanne and if he had the strength to start all over again.
“Don't you feel scared to start again? Guilty for walking away?” he asked her.
“No!”, she replied as she thought isn't self preservation the most basic instinct in everyone and wondered why he always got caught up in the guilt trip.
"What if he changes? You know he does love you."
"That is a big IF and the chances are he won't" she replied and looked at him. His anger was visible in his eyes and she wondered he was really angry at her or himself.
She looked at him and tried to find the traces of the friend she knew from before and found very little of that in him. He looked so defeated in life and was getting bitter and cynical in life. Joanne's sweet nature, the charming smile and her act of fragility had never fooled her. She had seen for the first hand how controlling and manipulative she could be. It was a shame her friend had never really seen those traits with clarity or may be it was easier NOT to see it. Either ways it was for him to decide to change things are to let them stay as they were.
"We have no control on who walks into our life but we always have a say on who stays." she said.
“You may never meet someone as good as him”, he said with a heavy heart.
“May be, may be not or he could be right here, right now”, she smiled and pointed at the old man struggling on the wind surfing board, trying to stay afloat with the enthusiasm of a five year old.
He always admired her eternal optimism, yet scowled at her.
She had felt the uncomfortable distance that was growing in their friendship over the last two years. At first she thought that the new relationships in their lives had left them with no time to keep in touch. But she was not really able to shake away the feeling that it was not the frequency but the warmth in their conversation that had vanished. It was convenient to blame the losing friendship on Joanne but she knew better that the only person she should hold responsible was him and not Joanne. She knew the friendship would never be the same between them and had been struggling to keep it afloat but at this moment as she saw the changing color of the sky, she realized her relationship with him had changed to an acquaintance and wondered if it was better to let go of it now than wait for it to turn sour.
“Beginning of an End”, she said smiling at him.
As the sun went down, the clouds in the sky turned into orange and formed shapes as far as one's imagination could go and the ocean calmed down to give the center stage to the sunset as they watched the sun sink into the ocean. She looked forward for the warmth of golden rays of the sunrise that would bring new beginnings, new friendships where nothing seemed impossible.While he was afraid of the cold night, not sure if he could sleep through it, walk away from the present to an unknown future and the warmth of the dawn seemed like a far away dream.