The worst part of knowing you’re about to die is being aware you haven’t lived. I have so much yet to accomplish. So much to learn. So much to change.
I wonder if anyone will miss me. If anyone will remember me even though I have no one back home who cares enough to keep me in their heart. I have myself, but I lost her, too, somewhere deep in the Pacific Ocean.
My heavy eyelids lift, and like the lens of a camera, slowly find focus on Chris and Kate.
I have them.
We’ll die together.
Kate is sitting in front of me, her head bent and both arms clasped around her knees. She’s swinging to the rhythm of the waves, her eyes half open and empty of life.
Chris’s head rests against my shoulder. When I move my arm, greenish-brown eyes collide with mine. There’s no light in them anymore. Just exhaustion and acceptance.
We accepted our fate days ago. We’re all dead but breathing. At least they had hope when I didn’t. They believed in our chance of survival.
Now, I’m uncertain we believe in anything anymore.
Chris shuts his eyes, half-asleep. I don’t want to sleep. I don’t want to die.
I glance at his mouth with a sudden realization.
I’ve never kissed anyone.
I’ll never know what that feels like.
Dehydration gives me a crazy idea I wouldn’t in a million years have had in a normal context. I’m not sure what I’m about to do. My thoughts are a mess. I’m dying. I inch closer to Chris on the raft, peeking at Kate. Her eyes are closed.
I wait for her chest to rise. It does.
I graze Chris’ bare arm. He turns toward me with the speed of a sloth, blinking.
“You good?” he asks, his voice low, raspy.
It takes me a moment to find mine. When was the last time we’ve spoken to each other?
“I don’t think we will survive.”
Something awakes in his eyes. He moves his arm on the inflatable wall behind us, a look of sorrow on his face. “Faye…”
“Hear me out, please,” I croak, my voice breaking. When he nods, I lick my crusty lips and try to gather my thoughts. “I don’t want to die without knowing what it feels like.”
There’s a brief pause. “What are you talking about?”
I draw in a shaky breath. I make no sense. I don’t know how to ask this without sounding insane. But we’re drifting away, both literally and figuratively, and I don’t want to go without experiencing one of the simplest gestures of love.
I clear my dry throat and grab his arm. The skin is warm. Rough. Dry. I notice our proximity. This is now…or never.
“I’ve never kissed anyone,” I confess in a whisper.
My heart is pounding. I wait for a reaction, a reply, an emotion―anything. Chris’ gaze doesn’t waver from mine, but he remains quiet. I huff out a breath, lowering my head. “God, this is embarrassing. Forget what I said.”
One wave. Two waves. His fingers graze the skin underneath my chin. My eyes lift. Wonder and uncertainty entered his own. “Are you asking me to kiss you?”
My cheeks burn up, but I couldn’t care less anymore. “I suppose you didn’t expect that.”
“No.” Chris maintains eye contact with me, and then the tiniest, most reassuring smile forms on his lips. He nods firmly. “I’ll do it.”
My heart does a strange somersault. If someone ever told me I’d have to ask somebody to give me my first kiss, I would have dismissed that crazy statement. I’d tell them I’m not that desperate, that I can wait. I have my whole life ahead of me, right?
I don’t care if it’s awkward or if I feel nothing at all. I want the last thing I do to be something good, even if it’s with somebody I don’t love. I want my last memory to be this.
My smile is timorous as his hands cup my cheeks. They feel rough against my skin. I turn my body, noticing how his expression has gone serious. My stomach knots with nervousness.
“A-are you sure you don’t mind?” I stutter.
This time, he smiles bigger. I don’t know why I like his smile so much. There is something beautiful about it that, if I had any hope left, would make me want to hold on.