Prologue. From my tentatively titled novel, A Convoluted Love.

She squeezed my hand. Not gently, firmly. As if she needed to hold on. I looked over, beautiful as the first time I had laid eyes on her. Her golden blonde hair drifted softly in the evening breeze, smiling she stared absentmindedly over the horizon. For years I had longed to understand those looks, perhaps that was my mistake. She pulled me forward, excitedly towards the water, eager as a child she tugged impatiently. As our eyes made contact, I smiled. She stubbornly let go of my hand, and raised her eyebrow.

'you aren't going to come in are you?' as she backed away from me.

I smiled again.

'live a little' she yelled dashing towards the oncoming tide, tearing her shoes and socks off as she went.

'maybe, but not today' I whispered as I watched her move gracefully towards a particularly playful wave. Her run was mesmerizing, it exuded a complete contentment, a deep happiness. Nimbly she bounced through the sand, her feet tickling the water gently. For a second everything else seemed very small, I was so focused on her that nothing else mattered. She stumbled looking back at me, smiling we both began to laugh, she flushed and turned back to the task.

I loved everything about that woman, so true and so honest, never were those more clear than in that moment. I should've followed, but I was frozen in admiration, enjoying her pleasure more than my own. I looked away just as she disappeared beneath the crown of the waves. Slowly I began to ascend up to the pier, the oncoming sunset was particularly magical. Dancing off the water, illuminating colours usually reserved for the paintbrush. I moved quietly out towards a bench near the end of the dock. An old man was sitting on one end, in visible admiration. Unfazed as I sat down beside him, he looked longingly at the sun. I reached for my book, Hemingway, fittingly titled as well. Opening to my mark I began to read, his words flowed, consuming me into the world of Brett and Jake. Distracting from the beauty around me I painted a new picture. Minutes seemed to have past, I couldn't be sure when the man spoke.

'You should've gone in the water'

I jumped, startled. Lost in the words perhaps. 'The Water?'

'With the girl'

I smiled. He must have been watching. 'Ive never been much for the ocean'

'Maybe true, but you seem to be much for her' He pointed out with a grizzly chuckle. The Man had a narrators voice, it was the first thing that drew me to the conversation, the wisdom of his words was the second.

'Perhaps you're right, but this sunset seemed to much to pass up'

'Ah but the sun also rises, seems you already knew that' very attentive this old man.

'Have you read it?' I was fairly certain I knew the answer, partially sure he had given a clue towards the ending.

'Great book, not so much about the sun though, I think. It is a particularly beautiful night however, I must say. Is she your wife?'

'No no just an old friend, I've haven't seen her in a very long time, too long truth be told. Ive been away for a while. Missed this pier, enjoyed many nights here as a kid, have to agree though, tonight is spectacular' The man and I took some time, in silent agreement, to absorb the beauty. He stared off into the distance, while I stared off to the north as she swam out towards a small island. Memories flowed. The times I had been out in front of her on the journey to that exact spot.

Our first kiss. The nights spent pondering the future, days spent pondering the past. I remember her frustration when I told her I was leaving. My frustration when she told me she found a boy at college. Her happiness when I told her I loved her, my own when she lay in my arms. All on that little island.

'So where why did you go away?' he asked after a time

'Just to be away honestly, to see the world, pull my arms from the shackles of this place. I did find work though eventually. For a while I wasn't sure I'd make it home.' That last part was true, hadn't much missed the place. People maybe, even the view, yet not the place. Something about the distinction escaped me.

'My wife passed last year, I know very much about the shackles you talk of. Free to go yet destined to stay I fear. This spot, this place is all that I have of her. Each day the wind takes more of her from me, it seems. And yet every night the sun sets, same as when she sat beside me, and in that moment the shackles feel more like her touch.'

'Im sorry' was all I could muster, inadequate and weak that answer, the man wasn't looking for sympathy as much as he was making a point. The point eluded me then, not so much now.

'No, no sorry is for times of your control. I would be sorry too if it was merited but alas it was her time, and that happens. Often sadness is wasted in the emotion of the sad and not ever attached what it is that is sad. Sadness friend, is selfish'

I wanted to call him cynical, but he was right. I could question it, tried to and failed, for that I was sad. We both looked up as the sun dipped below the horizon. Then I looked at the man, admired him for a second and stared back out to the horizon 'do you regret anything?'

'do you?'

Out of the corner of my eye I could see her walking up the pier towards us. 'I know the cliche is to say I don't, but… of course yes, I do'

'Well.' He stood up slowly, yet, deliberately. Reaching for a simple oak cane hooked on the end of the bench and gracefully put on his hat, the whole process was executed with such purpose. 'Don't ask questions to which you already know the answer' And with that, without so much as a goodbye, he turned, and was gone.