Sergio walked along the shoreline, filled with happiness, the feeling of Sarah’s hand in his own, warm and tender. In that hour before nightfall, the two made for the lighthouse, which sat atop a scattering of rocks at the end of the beach. Sergio remained silent, content to be there with her, watching her out of the corner of his eyes, loving the way the fading light danced with her hair. She caught his gaze and smiled, giving his fingers a delicate squeeze.
Sergio nodded agreement and stopped. He turned to watch the sunset, all the while the sounds of the ocean licked quietly and insistently in his ears. He looked at the sky streaked with reds and browns and yellows, spotted with puffed darkening clouds in the distance and sighed.
“I don’t want this moment to end.”
He pulled her against him, pressing her to his chest and kissed her forehead. Her skin glowed cream lovely in the fading light and he heard words in his mind, words he’d not dared to say.
“Yes.” She looked up at him, smiling, her eyes sparkled dark and shining.
“I love you. I want you to know that I’ve always loved you.” His voiced failed him and the last words came out in a whisper. He closed his eyes, a sense of relief mixed with fear. Sarah remained silent for a moment and he grew nervous. ‘Answer.’ He said to himself.
“I’ve always known.” She answered, still smiling, eyes still shining. Sergio pulled her face close and kissed her. His knees felt weak and he knew in his soul he never wanted the moment to end.
They continued walking, aimless but constant for the lighthouse. Clouds rolled in waves over their heads and seagulls made mad dashes into sand dunes. In the distance, the lighthouse seemed to bend in the awkward reddish light of sunset and it appeared people in the tower looked down upon them. His mind raced and spun for a moment, fighting the vision. He closed his eyes to center himself, doubting his senses. He opened his eyes once more to see lighthouse, immobile and wind worn, as if nothing had occurred.
He turned to Sarah, who failed to notice the tricks of the night. She remained in her own thoughts, her eyes downward.
“What are you thinking?” He asked.
She shook her head, as if to signify she thought nothing, but he knew her and did not press her.
“This is the best day of my life.” She looked over at him, tears in her eyes as they walked.
Sergio felt his throat tighten, his mind searching and not finding words. He hugged her once again, wondering why it took so long to tell her.
“We are both far too stubborn for our own good,” he said, looking over her shoulder at the sky, which seemed to grow darker with each passing moment. Before she responded, night fell in a rush and the air became cold. A wind rose and made goose bumps against his flesh.
“This is the Police!” He heard someone yell in the distance. He spun his head in all directions, looking into the black. He saw nothing.
“Did you hear that?” He asked her.
She looked at him in confusion. She took a step away from him, fear on her face, making tired lines in her brow.
“I heard nothing you dirty old man.”
“What?” He asked. Breath and strength failed him and he wondered if he were about to fall.
“I said I heard nothing.”
Panic filled in his stomach and sweat ran down his arms. Sirens ripped into the blackness accompanied by the approach of dogs, barking and barking.
“Let’s get to the lighthouse.”
They ran, the sounds of barking growing louder behind them. His legs felt stiff under him and failed to obey and he made his way best he could over the rocks leading to the lighthouse. He spun round, but could not see anything, nothing save pitch black night.
He led the final few steps to the door. She leaned over, breathing with difficulty and shaking her head in displeasure.
“Why are we running?”
“I don’t know.”
He tried the door, which resisted his attempt. He cursed as the sounds of sirens and dogs and voices grew louder in his brain.
“What did I do?” He screamed into the night.
Sarah did not answer and indeed, seemed to have become frozen. He tried to shake her, but she remained immobile, as if he didn’t exist.
Suddenly, he saw them. He turned to see what seemed to be thousands of police cars on the sand, lights flashing and sirens blazing. A team of dogs barked menacingly and snarled viciously from the bottom of the rocks, held back by imaginary leashes.
“Sarah!” He shook her again, without looking.
“Sergio, you should have left well enough alone.”
He spun to face her.
She seemed a different person, her face covered with bruises and her hair sprayed wild upon her head. Tears flowed down her cheeks and she huddled against the lighthouse, backing away from him.
“He did this to me!” She screamed, blouse ripped and splattered with blood.
Above him, high in the lighthouse, a phone began to ring. He tried the door again and this time it opened.
“Where are you going?” She asked.
“I have to answer the phone.”
He bounded up the stairs, the dogs hard upon his heels, his only thought was to answer the phone before they caught him.
It's my only hope. He hurtled the last few stairs in a single leap. The phone sat upon a ledge, some few feet away from him. He approached the window as a dog leaped into his path. Trying to evade the snapping jaws of a German Shepard that was all teeth and no legs, he jumped for the phone, but missed and exited the lighthouse through a window, the sounds of the sea becoming closer as he fell.
Sergio woke to hear the phone ringing. He wiped sleep from his eyes and looked around, seeing beer bottles and cans and ashtrays full with cigarettes. He sighed reality and reached over to answer the phone.