The droplet fell down his cheek. He didn’t realize the tear was his, or that he had shed it, until it fell to the windowpane in a flattened splash. His head rested against the cold glass and he looked at the wet spot. He wondered where it came from… he knew from his eye, but where did it come from?

He felt no sorrow, no regret. All he felt was the winter morning’s chill, and the receiver pressed against his ear. He listened to feminine sniffles on the other end.

When it happened he was far away. The weather then was warmer, the sky, bluer and the sun, brighter. He conversed with a friend on a boat a mile off the coast. Condominiums were dwarfed in the distance and cast tiny shadows on the crowded beach. They whipped their fishing lines into the slow current and sipped at bottles of something unhealthy. There was nothing between them besides their chuckles, the whistling wind and a few seagulls crying for bait.

“I’ve been wrestling with a thought,” he said, hardening the light tone of their chatter. “Have you ever faced a change that challenged you? Not a challenge like practicing for a competition, but challenged you, your beliefs… how you look at things?”

His friend reeled in his line a bit and replied. “Are you asking about change, or how you face it?”

He stared at the water’s jaded blue-green surface. “I don’t know. I know it’s silly, but I feel I am staring into a cave. It is dark, and I believe it’s dangerous. Where it goes I do not know. I don’t know what will happen when I enter, but I feel I must, although I’m scared.”

His friend faced him. “What are you afraid of if you enter the cave?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know. Of being hurt by something lurking there… of being scarred by the attack… of being lost alone in the dark… of being lead somewhere I do not what to be.”

His friend swallowed a swig of drink. “Are you saying change is bad? Challenging who you are is wrong? You are constantly changing whether you are conscious of it. The difference here is you are fearful of becoming something you do not wish to be. You are not talking about change. You are talking about acceptance.”

They looked to each other and raised their bottles. A droplet of condensation glided off his chilled glass and fell onto the deck.

A sharp sob brought him back. He was no longer on a boat with a friend, warmed by the day and the talk. He was returned to the frigid phone call. He looked to the windowpane and the pool of tears.

He took a deep breath and asked: “When is the wake?”