She dangles her feet off the jetty, curling and uncurling her toes in the water. He sits beside her, cross-legged, lazily holding her hand. They sit in silence for several minutes, then she clears her throat. "Okay, I know I shouldn't, but I have to ask you something."
He slowly, instinctively withdraws his hand. "Okay..."
"Well, I'm just wondering what we're doing here."
"What do you mean?"
She gestures at the surrounding beach. "This. This whole day. What was it about?"
"Something to do..." He shrugs. "Like I told you, my grandma used to live out here. I thought you might like seeing it."
"It's not that I didn't want to see it, it's just--" She stops, looks at his face, looks out at the water. "It just feels like our usual pattern. We fought last night, today we're off doing something, like if we run away from home for the day it'll magically make everything okay."
"No, it's not like that. I just thought this might be fun." He unwraps his legs and moves ever so slightly away from her. "Apparently, I was wrong."
She hugs herself as if keeping warm. "I just feel like we fight all the time. And we never resolve anything, we just kind of ignore it and go on to something else. But I don't like that. I want things to have an ending. I want to know where we stand."
"I love you. Does that mean anything?"
"I love you, too. But God, that's not the solution, you know? Okay, we love each other, but love is this big, complicated thing and...It's like, I love my parents, but I couldn't live with them."
He stands. "What are you saying? Is this it? Just like that?"
"No. No! Didn't you hear what I just said? 'I love you'? But, God, we're together so much, all the time, really. When we're home, we're together, when we go out, we go out together. Maybe we shouldn't. Maybe we need time apart from each other."
"So...What are you saying? You love me, and you don't want to break up with me, but you don't want to live with me?"
"You're really not listening to me, are you?" She pauses, as if wondering whether to continue. "After last night, after the things we said to each other, I didn't really feel like spending the day with you, you know? I wanted to be by myself, or with friends. My friends, the friends I wish I had more of, since most of my friends were your friends first. I feel like I don't have a life of my own here, I only have my life with you."
"I didn't...I don't..."
"And I know you don't mean for it to be like that, and I know you don't realize I feel trapped sometimes, but I do. You love me so much it's overpowering, and sometimes it's too much. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Like...like right now."
He stands for a few seconds or a few minutes, like he's waiting for his cue. Finally he says, "We came out here together. You want me to take the car? How will you get back?"
"Taxi. Train. 'Far Rockaway, that's the last stop on the A Train.' See?" She smiles. "I was listening to you."
He fakes a smile, stands for a bit longer, then drops the keys beside her. "I'll feel better if you take the car. The train here can be a little rough for a non-native."
He turns to leave, then stops. "You know the way back?"
"There's signs everywhere. Astoria's not that far away."
He nods, then walks slowly along the beach and up the hill. He turns and looks, she's still sitting there, her feet making ever-wider circles in the water.