David sits alone on the beach. It is dusk and he can see the splendid cascade of colors as the sun presents its final show for the day. The sun is about to retire and so is David.
“This is how I want it to end,” he tells himself. “I want to be alone.” That last word painfully lingers in his mind like poison and it is more excruciating than the unbearable tug of pain in his stomach that is killing him. He tries to distract himself by making out shapes in the darkening sky but as he looks into the distance, he sees a ghost from his recent past. He sees Jessica holding up that shell on her ear. She looks at him and beckons him to come over, to have a listen. Trivial things amuse her. She looks so blissful that David can’t help but smile as he tries to get up and head over to her. But even before he gets to his feet, she fades away into the wind. “I’m not sorry I left you,” he yells. “This burden is mine alone.” He falls to his feet feeling wiped, suppressing the flood of tears forming in his eyes. The cancer in his stomach is becoming more unrelenting but he is glad for it. He knows this pain all too well. He feels an odd sense of safety when he is in pain. And it keeps his mind off Jessica.
This beach that they loved so much is to become his sanctuary. “I will be gone before this night is over,” he thinks to himself between the waves of pain. “I must not include her in this. I must do this alone, after all, even dogs disappear when they’re about to die.” This thought made him want to chuckle. But all that came out was a loud groan.
As he drifts between sleep and awake, he sees a vision of the family that they could have had. He sees a little boy playing on the beach. He sees the boat trips that they planned on taking playing out in front of him. “I will take care of you,” she said. “I will be with you until the very end. I choose this because this is what makes me happy. ”Scenes played out in succession and he can no longer tell which ones are real and which ones he’s making up. He sees himself leaving in the dark of night telling her that it’s all for the best. “My life is going to be miserable and you can’t be a part of it,” he tells her. She tries to tell him otherwise but he wouldn’t listen. He never listens to anyone but himself.
The darkness has enveloped the beach now and the cold is biting. David looks up to the sky and wishes for any sign of welcome from the heavens, but even the stars have shied away tonight. “I am all alone,” David thinks with every word sinking in what’s left of his consciousness. With his last ounce of strength he pulls out his phone and dials a number that he promised himself he would never call again. The other line picked up after only one ring as if waiting for this very call for the longest time. He hears her voice say hello. He still feels all the love that he felt for all the time that they were together. She hesitates for a minute, and then she asks, “David?” Realization of wasted time dawned on David like an unforgiving storm. He wants to tell her that he is sorry. He wants to tell her that he loves her and he wishes so badly that they were together right this very minute but all he was able to muster was a weak whisper of her name before he faded into the dead of night.