She was going to tell him everything, he could tell. Her confession was there in the way she stood at the water’s edge, watching the sun go down.
In the distance, an aeroplane banked gently before rocking back onto its stomach, ready to land. Aeroplanes were all about flight, about speed, about defiance; you could tell in the way they landed how much they longed to be in the air.
For thirty years they’d returned to the same beach, watched hundreds of aeroplanes ghost across the sky, turning to fly over them. This one was no different, its whistling complaint descending in pitch, its green lights winking against twilight.
Gail took another step into the waves.
Four and a half billion years ago the Earth and the exoplanet that was to become the Moon, collided. Now the Moon moves away from the Earth at a rate of four centimetres each year. Once asteroids delivered the oceans, there must have been a first wave, swelling, tugged by a moon so close it must have filled the sky.
Gail walked towards him.
The times she’d come close to telling him, he’d managed to deflect her somehow. But this time was different.
The aeroplane moaned as wheels unfolded from its belly.
She stood between him and the sea. “We need to talk.”
He sighed, nodded, eyes focussed on the aeroplane hanging in the air like a crooked painting.
At one time the moon would have been so close, a day would have lasted only a few hours.
Gail knelt in the sand and told him everything.
He listened, but his eyes were on the aeroplane. He sat forward in his chair. There it was, a body falling out of the aeroplane’s undercarriage, legs and arms outstretched, a shadow cartwheeling through the sky.
The body hit the water too far out to make a sound. But he imagined it.
“Did you hear me?” she said.
The aeroplane’s green lights continued to blink, the twilight darkened, and the waves continued to unfold onto the sand one at a time.