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This Will Be Our Last Goodbye

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Steve stood at the water's edge gazing towards the harbour; the sun had just set leaving only a hint of light on the horizon as the sky began its journey to indigo. In the distance he could almost make out the lights of a ship and he absentmindedly wondered if it were a freighter or one of the luxury liners like the one he and Billy had been on last year.

He glanced around. This was their favourite spot; they came here a lot and it always surprised him how few other people did. True, it was secluded, down a twisting path from the top to a narrow, stony beach with a patch of sand, but there was a small parking area up there, a hand rail on the path and makeshift seating down here not far from the water so it meant that the place must be known.

He sighed. I need a cigarette. Both he and Billy had given them up over twenty years ago, but that didn't mean the craving went away; particularly when he was stressed. Today he had even bought a pack and a cheap Bic lighter. He could feel their weight in his jacket pocket.

Stepping back from the water he carefully made his way across the stones and sat down. He set the urn carefully between his feet and pulled out the cigarettes, tearing open the pack and lighting one with a shaking hand. Leaning back he exhaled into the growing darkness.

"Steve, you're there right?" a voice asked from near the bottom of the path "I saw your car."

"Yeah, Max, over here." He quickly tossed the cigarette to one side and pulled a small flashlight from this other pocket; although he really didn't need to, he flicked it on and waved it toward her voice.

"You could have done this during the day, you know," she answered as she picked her way across the stones; he could see she was carrying an unlit camping light.

"It's not that dark yet and besides, I see you came prepared."

"It's better than that thing you've got. How the hell did you expect to see?"

"Don't need to see much. Just the water." He paused. "You alone?"

"Yeah. Tony's watching the kids. Suzi's old enough to look after the other two now but she's out tonight. Besides, he understands that this is just for us."

They were both silent for a moment. Steve was the first to speak.

"Who would have thought when we were back in Hawkins that this is where we would end up."

"Or that you and Billy …"

"Yeah," Steve laughed quietly. "Me and Billy."

"I'm glad he met you, Steve. You gave him something I know he never expected to have and it made all the difference. I don't have to remind you what he was like before."

Steve shrugged.

"I got just as much. Couldn't have asked for more." He glanced at the urn. "OK, let's do this."

He bent down and picked it up then stood. Max lit the lamp and followed him back to the water.

"I'm not scattering all of them. He wanted some with his mother too. The rest I'm going to keep and when I go …" His voice caught and Max wrapped her arm around his waist. "When I go we have a niche in that same cemetery"

"Yes, Steve, I know. It’s a long time away, but it'll be taken care of." She waited. "Do you want me to help now?"

"No, no. I was sorta, well, not praying, but … Hell, I don't know what I was doing."

As Max held the lamp higher Steve opened the urn and carefully stepped forward until the water touched his shoes. Bending down, he tilted the urn and let some of the ashes drift down onto it. He stood straight and sealed the urn again.

"That's enough." He stood quietly once again, staring at the spot where the now-vanished ashes had landed. "Time to go home."

Max linked her arm though his as they crossed the stones back to the path.

"You hungry?"

"Yeah, guess I am. Haven't eaten since breakfast."

"Well we can't have that. How about a burger and greasy fries."

"Lord, haven't had that in months. Trying to be healthy I suppose"

"It's settled then."

~~~ end ~~~