On the first day, you took me there.

How your eyes sparkled when you spoke of it! I came to recognise that sparkle, my darling, because it was the same sparkle that came into your face when you spoke of me. I remember your hands dancing in front of me. I confess—I didn’t catch most of what you said about that place because I was mesmerised by your dancing hands. You drew pictures in my mind of a place where we could be ourselves, where we could love with no one to tear us apart. One word still stands out, echoing in my mind even behind your dancing hands: magical, you promised me. It would be magical.

And even then you were never one to break a promise.

Do you remember that place? It was a place where the birds danced, where the ocean sang, where the wind whispered into our young and innocent hearts. Thoughts of escape from this cruel world we lived in lingered in our minds. We would gaze at each other and somehow communicate our unspoken wishes of a place where we could be together without fear, where we did not have to feign indifference when we saw one another. My darling, you were always the secret I guarded closest to my heart; and though the ocean sang out our secret love affair, only you and I could speak its language and understand what it was trilling into the salty air.

It was a place where true loves were born, where impenetrable bonds were forged between you and I. It was a place where the stars were wished upon, where impossible dreams floated just above our reach in the shimmering canvas of the night sky. Do you remember the heart I drew into the sand? Even as the tide rolled in and slowly it faded away into the beach, we held hands and pledged that our love would never disappear so easily. Isn’t it odd, darling? Back then, you and I—we truly believed it.

Do you remember the night when our hearts were shattered? It will be etched in my memory forever, I believe. The terrible words we yelled at each other, tasting bitter in our mouths, not quite masked by the perpetual singing of the ocean. We screamed until our throats were raw, until tears were streaming down my face and yours was a hard mask of a feeling I still cannot bring myself to think of. My eyes did not leave you even as you turned and ran, far, far away. Tell me, my darling, did you ever look back? Was I the only one who learned what it meant to be broken that night?

Love is a funny thing, don’t you know? I’m here again today, thinking of you with the same ache in my heart from all those years ago. There’s no one here to dance and sing by my side now that you are gone. Did you come back here, my darling? I listen to the sound of the sea, and I realise that it is not singing anymore and wonder when I forgot how to speak its language. Did you forget, too?

I draw a heart in the sand and watch as the ocean fills it up until there is no trace left.

Magical, you promised me that day, so long ago. It would be magical. And perhaps, I think, gazing at the space where the heart once was, it is time for the magic to begin again.