It’s still new and strange to her. She grew up on a tropical island where the beach and the sea water were always warm and welcoming. Here, you can barely put your feet in the edge of the water before you have to hastily retreat and wipe the beads off of them. Frigid water does not spell welcome to her since her first attempt.
Tara’s unhappy and disapproving face comes back to her. She gets up to refill her tea mug, trying unsuccessfully to fill her head with a different image. She tells herself it's only a dream.
Tara--always the sentimental and considerate girl of the two who was the carbon copy of her own image. They are completely identical in looks and yet opposite in every other way. Tara loved small animals, while she thinks they are too much of a bother. Tara loved poems and sunset, while she couldn’t understand why.
A walk on the beach with Matt the third day after she arrived changed her mind. With Matt’s big and warm hand holding hers, the sunset at the end of the ocean looked mesmerizing in spite of the cold wind. That must have been what Tara meant, she thought to herself. Love changes everything to the brighter, better, and prettier perception. For the first time romance didn’t feel like a laughable idea.
She didn’t come here to fall in love--she argues with herself. She came with a promise to Tara. Matt was so happy to see her that words were lost in his embrace. She smiled and didn’t deny when he called out, “Tara!” and the masquerade was on. It’s too late to go back now. Tara’s tearful and fervor words still ring in her ears: Promise you will go there and tell him in person. Promise you will make sure he’s all right. I’m all he has, Darla. Don’t let his heart break.
Tara died the day they took her to the hospital. They never found out who hit her with what kind of car. She was exhausted after comforting her parents and taking care of the funeral. All she could remember was Tara’s last words when life was rapidly pulling out from her, so she made the journey. She knew Matt before she met him. Tara loved him with all she had, and it showed in the letters she wrote to Darla. Matt is not perfect, she wrote, but he is perfect for me. Darla remembered thinking to herself “I’ll give it six months” in her usual lighthearted and sarcastic way.
The sixth month never came. Tara’s vacation in her hometown turned into a bottomless nightmare, with renewed grief greeting her everyday. Darla grieved for Tara’s death, and for the happiness Tara lost. Falling in love with Matt was completely unexpected.
Did you hear that, Tara? I didn’t do this on purpose. I just couldn’t hurt him with your death. I didn’t have a choice. I see what you saw in him. He loves you without reservation. He nurses me patiently so I could gain the weight back, of which I blamed on the heat and the long journey. He made it so easy to love him. The only thing to do was to kill Darla, and that’s what I did.
“Morning.” Matt kisses her from behind and wraps his arms around her. He buries his face in the dip of her collarbone and whispers, “Did I tell you I love you?”
She closes her eyes and says, “I love you, too, Matt.”
(Happy Easter Everyone!)