“You and your fucking sunsets.”
We looked out from our shore, a clifftop littered with driftwood, drifters and glass, towards a sunset saturated from a burst orange centre. A gentle-sloped mountain range divided orange sky and blue sea, the ocean’s crests shifting and shattered gold by the light. Two friends perched beside me on a twisted log, dreaming of falling and dissolving into that horizon. Another took a photo from behind showing three shadowed heads, beanie-wrapped in the chilled December night, distinguishable only by height. We are the third wavering line composed in the shot: the mountains, the ocean, and us.
“Who’d have thought we’d be so important to each other from our first meeting?” one friend’s comment sifted through the wind.
“How did we first meet?” becomes the game of the night.
“I remember first speaking to you at that hike.”
“Mount Tolmie? It was earlier. At a party. You were really drunk.”
“I don’t remember that.”
She—Swedish, sardonic—wasn’t surprised.
“I thought you were a bit odd. An eccentric.”
“Has your opinion changed?”
Unanswered, we hear more clicks from behind, our photographer capturing more moments at the expense of not entering the image.
Beachcombing through time-effaced memories, we cannot find that central image: that first meeting, uncoloured by what we know now of each other. Our first weeks are a snapshot washed over by faces and events, overexposed by too much movement; they’re in the background somewhere, but remain unseen. My sight of them was accrued over time, through shared joys, hikes, booze, and lazy afternoons.
Finally parting blue eyes, eclipsed orange from the sunset, the instigator interjects his usual short-changed two-cents. “You were there, but we weren’t close until our road trip.”
“Really?” Alarmed, I respond with my own penny. Our memories differ here; my truth splits from his, grasping towards a semblance of reality. “I considered you my closest friend weeks before then. I remember our meeting clearly: surrounded by sixty others, you were the only one looking miserable. I wanted to know why.”
“I was sick.”
“I know that now.”
“Why didn’t you just ask?”
I cannot answer for the person I was.