“Close your eyes,” Michael tells you, and you do what he says and hear the dark rocks shift under his feet as he takes your hand and seems to fall onto the sand-polished shingle. So you open them again. And there he is, holding up a ring with no box and looking up at you, his brow creased seriously. You take a step back and wobble a little on the rock and he tightens his grip on your hand. The volcanic rock under your feet should be rough, should grip your foot the way his hand grips yours, but it has been worn down for centuries. Millennia? Or perhaps some of it only for the past 65 years, since the last eruption? Although you doubt this rock came from that. It is more likely it has eroded out of the cliff since the time of Ulysses, and before.
Slow erosion, slow accumulation: a lifetime.
In the summer there will be sand. Dark grit that retreats with winter storms and magically appears again as the waves off the Atlantic gentle. You know you will still need your sandals then to walk across the hot sheet of sand. Ha! Sandals. You had never made the connection sand/sandals until you came to this island; at home you always went barefoot. Sometimes the dry sand was hot but you could run fast enough to get to the cool stuff at the water’s edge.
But how uncool to be thinking of sand now; yet somehow it connects, the cycle of disappearance and reemergence, the unsure footing either way. Somehow it connects with you and Michael, with what the two of you cooked up, with what your life has been since that youthful plot, a day’s whim. And since he is the last one, now, who knows both who you were and who you are, the last one who saw that shift, it only makes sense to accept his proposal.
“Yeah, okay,” you say.