“Will I see you again?” he asked.
She should’ve lied, but it wasn’t in her nature.
“But I love you,” he said.
“You don’t love me. You love what you think I am.” She pulled away from him and looked out the window at the ocean lapping the beach below.
“That’s not true.”
“It is. Because it’s true for me too.” She closed her eyes. She didn’t want to look at him. This had gone too far. It’d only been a fling, and she tried telling herself it still was. But she cared for him. She might have even loved him. She wasn’t sure because it was such a strange idea.
“You have a family,” she said. “Don’t you love them?”
He said it quietly, as if ashamed of the fact. She wondered about love. It could be so beautiful and cruel at once. It played with human hearts and minds. He loved his family, and he might have loved her. But he couldn’t have both at once.
And she couldn’t have him.
It’d gone too far. She should’ve called it off. She should’ve stayed away. But it was love, or something like it, that kept her coming back to him. But it would only cause them pain and bring pain to everyone around them. The truth she kept coming back to was that love was pain, and she’d been better off without it. He’d been better off without her.
“Would you leave them behind for me?” she asked, knowing there was no right answer he could give her.
It was probably why he didn’t reply.
She turned to him, and he took her in his arms. He placed his head against her breast, and she sang a lullaby as he fell asleep. She sang softly into his ear, taking away his memory of everything. He had to forget. It was the only way he’d ever go back to the life she’d almost taken from him. She kissed him one last time and walked down to the shore.
She paused at the edge of the water and considered going back, but she couldn’t take him away. She couldn’t go with him, and he couldn’t follow her. She let her robe fall to the sand and walked into the water. She swam into the depths, and she didn’t look back.
She never set foot on shore again, but sometimes, she’d gaze at the beach house from far off in the horizon and she’d ponder going back. Even after centuries had passed, and he was certainly dead, she pondered.