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The Restless Season
The Restless Season
It was a piercing repetitive sound that she dreaded each morning. Hannah rolled out of bed and slammed the alarm clock a few times until its monotonous groaning ceased. She cringed as the ice cold shower water soaked her scalp and goose bumps grew on her forearms. The clock read 9:00 as she strolled into her bedroom with a towel wrapped around her, a little more alert and awake now. That is, until she realized she had to be to work in fifteen minutes.
Hannah raced the four miles on her bicycle, skipping the scenic route, and arrived at the beach club drenched in sweat. 9:20 and no one was there yet. Typical. She cruised down the boardwalk to take a swim in the ocean as she awaited the rest of the staff’s arrival.
As she peeled off her T-shirt, her body slick with sweat, and parted the icy surface to submerge herself in the cool depths of calmness, Hannah took a look around the beach. It was completely empty; desolate aside from a morning jogger and a few roaming seagulls. This serenity, this brief peace between sunrise and midday when the beachgoers were still snoozing, was when Hannah appreciated where she lived the most.
Sam ambled into the house feeling refreshed after his long walk with Mrs. Hudson’s dog. He was ravenous and searched for any kind of food. There was nothing. Had his mom gone shopping yet today? He peeked into her room to the sound of her yelling at her assistant via BlackBerry. She must have forgotten, again. Sam’s stomach rumbled as he pounded up the stairs and threw a bag together to go to the beach. Sometimes Sam wished his mother had tendencies like Mrs. Hudson, the elderly woman who lived next door. Every day before Sam took her dog for a walk she had baked goods and a smile to offer him. He didn’t know how he would detach his mother from her phone to get her to drive to the beach club.
The beachfront community was quaint, yet breathtaking. The ocean views spanned for miles and it wasn’t uncommon to inhale a warm waft of salty sea air through an open window during the daily drone of chemistry lab. However, the town had become a tourist trap during the past ten summers. Hannah saw this every day at her job at the beach club. The teens sauntered right past the boardwalk and lounged on towels, playing on their laptops and texting their friends back home vehemently from their phones while the their mothers competed in unspoken swimsuit and sarong competitions as they indulged in double scoop ice cream and spoke of their husbands latest ventures in the stock market.
California, she decided to herself as she lay belly up and let her body roll lazily with the waves. That is the first place she would travel to escape from the bubble of ignorance and depreciation of natural beauty that she found so often in her hometown. Surely in California people spoke without pretense and were open to new ideas and culture. Hannah let out a deep sigh. Her dreams would have to wait, as she spied her boss waving to her furiously from the top of the boardwalk.
Sam listened to his mother drone on and on about Dad’s latest business deal into her phone. Quite frankly, he could care less. The person behind her honked impatiently when she didn’t notice the light turn green and the Range Rover jerked forward uneasily. He double-checked that his running shoes were in his bag.
“Mom, I’m going out tonight”, he announced. No reply. “I’ll probably be home pretty late.” She didn’t answer but sped up to the curb of the beach club and blew him a kiss as he descended out of the car.
Sam took the wide steps at the entrance two at a time, trying to avoid making eye contact with the kids lingering around the front desk. Not today. He didn’t have time for their witless banter today. Surely he would see them tonight anyway. He suspected that Peter Sartorious was throwing the party tonight. The boy’s puffed out chest and arrogant smile as he leaned roughly on the front counter and spoke adamantly to the group confirmed Sam’ thought.
Peter suddenly noticed Sam and took his attention away from the growing crowd. “Sorbara” he called. “You coming tonight?”
“Yeah, sure man, maybe I’ll stop by”.
Peter took a few steps towards Sam and grabbed firm hold of his arm. “It’s going to be intense man, you better be here. Where else would you go? My parents have leftover Jack hidden in the cabinet from their cocktail party last night and we’re planning on doing a break in at the beach club to get some food. And, I mean man, Marcy said she would be there. Easy target, man, you know? You’ll be there. I’ll see you there. Tonight. Eight-o-clock man.”
Sam grumbled an excuse about having to go on a run and escaped from Peter’s pinned gaze. Unfortunately, Sam probably would end up at the Sartorious residence after all tonight.
Lunch break. Hannah sat in the downstairs kitchen with a few staff members and consumed greasy calories only available at the delectable food venue of the beach club. She took another bite of her cheeseburger and laughed at Luke dancing around the kitchen in his apron. One of the many quirks of working at the club was the abundance of free food designated for staff consumption. The employees were mostly college and high school students trying to chip a substantial dent in their college tuition. Therefore, the policy of free food for the staff at the club kept everyone coming back each summer to alleviate some financial stress.
Suddenly, Hannah’s bliss was interrupted by an impatient knock at the door. She opened it to find a group of teenagers scampering away, the girls doubled over with giggles. She squinted her eyes and was able to see that they were about her age. She thought she recognized one of the Sartorious brothers scamper away in delight.
It was 4:45, fifteen minutes until closing time, when he walked in. She had been perched atop the freezer, the fan cooling beads of sweat that gathered on her chest. She immediately resented the creak of the screen door opening and yet another customer coming to order their cool ice cream and then meander down the beach giggling. Hannah despised serving these summer people; the group on August vacation wrapped in silk dresses and wearing broad brimmed straw hats; the ones without agendas or a care in the world who still got impatient when the ice cream girls worked too slowly.
He was different. He walked with a slow, unhurried gait and squinted his sun-crinkled eyes to discern between the melting, sugary flavors. His deeply tanned collarbone jutted out from between his shoulders as he rested his arms on the counter. She felt her heart thud in her fingertips as she jumped down from the freezer and offered an endearing smile.
4:45. Sam decided at the last minute to get a scoop of ice cream before his run on the beach. He guessed the decision had more to do with his lack of enthusiasm for keeping up with his cross country training schedule than his love for ice cream.
She was the first thing he noticed when he stepped into the booth, his sandy feet leaving patterns on the floor. He pretended to be absorbed by the flavor collection beneath the frosty window, all the while sneaking furtive glances in her direction.
She sat perched atop the low freezer with a fan blowing cool air through her tangled, russet locks. He noticed the curled pieces sticking out from her ponytail in the humid heat and the way her delicate, lanky wrists supported the book in her hands. Beneath her work apron he could see the frame of a gangly teenager like himself. However, her presence oozed maturity. He lifted a green eye to hers as she jumped off of the freezer and a strand fell between her eyes. He could feel a palpable electricity light the room. This summer would be different.