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What Began As A Kiss
His eyes were blue, dark blue, like the color of the ocean at dusk. Reagan had never been in love, only felt the bitter sharp pain of disappointment one too many times, but the day she met Chase, she was sure there was something other than disappointment awaiting her in his charming smile, dimpled at the ends. She knew from the way looked at her, a gaze into her boring brown pupils, and made her heart skip a beat, that he was different.
“I’ll be your handsome prince, and you’ll always be my princess.”
His words still rang clear in her mind. As clear as the radiance of the sunset they had sat watching that night. Even years later, she could still feel the warmth of the sand beneath her legs, the strength of his arm around her.
They met on a summer day in June, the date was questionable, and Reagan only remembered it had been one of the hottest days North Carolina had experienced all summer. Temperatures had soared into the 100s, leaving the air with a humidity so thick it could have been sliced with a knife. It was the kind of day where not even the chlorinated waters of the pool kept a person relieved from the sun’s beating rays; a day where people hid themselves indoors, in the safety of their air conditioners and fans.
Of all days, Reagan had promised her friends a hike to the Hatteras lighthouse. Even with the battering temperatures, her friends were relentless to go. It was a long, sandy tread from their houses to the lighthouse, and she had almost considered backing out, but at last minute decided to tag along. It was a choice she would later be glad she made, as it was where she met Chase; at the top of the spiral stairs, leaning over the balcony railing, a big smile on his face as peered down at the scenery some 300 feet below. He wore his light blue basketball shorts and gray tee-shirt that day. Even though she was exhausted from the hike, and soaked in sweat, he was so cute that Reagan mustered up enough energy to smile flirtatiously; a smile that would change her life.
Chase was all Reagan had ever dreamed in a guy; good-looking, funny, kind, and romantic. Her summer days were spent in bliss, and always with Chase. They were inseparable; trips to the beach, ice-cream cones, bike rides, swims, and hikes. Reagan within a matter of days after meeting Chase, had been swept into a whirlwind, a whirlwind that took her to a world where only she and Chase existed, where only she and Chase mattered.
The world she so idealized came to a screeching halt shortly towards the end of August. It was on August 27th that the end of summer had come, like a thief creeping in the night, and Chase had to leave his grandparents and go back home to Maryland.
“Do you have to go?”
Reagan and Chase sat on the same beach, where only a month earlier he had called himself her prince. Now the circumstances were much grimmer. Reagan had promised herself that she wouldn’t cry, but as she looked up at the black sky riddled with stars, she thought to herself how far away the stars were, as far away as Chase would be by tomorrow night, and she couldn’t help the tears that began to slide down her cheeks.
The once empathetic Chase, who had promised her the world in the songs he sang to her on his guitar, his clear voice strumming her heart with every word, was less than sympathetic now.
“Yeah it sucks, but we both knew this was going to happen. I mean, it’s a summer fling after all.” He said nonchalantly.
“A summer fling?” Reagan asked coolly
Is that all she had been to him, a willing body?
“Yeah” Chase said, oblivious of the anger rushing through Reagan’s veins. “Now look, I still have a lot of packin’ left to do, so why don’t we both get goin’ home.”
It was only 10:30, on any other night they would have stayed out past 12, but Reagan, too numb by what had just happened, couldn’t do anything but follow his lead onto their legs.
This is how it all ends? She wondered in surprise. All the wonderful months. All the times I sacrificed for him. The walls I let down to trust him. All so he can say goodbye like we never had anything at all?
Beside her, Chase prattled like they were on one of their usual casual strolls, while her every footstep in the sand felt like she was lifting concrete blocks. What was wrong with him? How could he talk so casually, as her whole chest felt like it was being crushed in, the life sucked out of it?
What about the love songs he had written for her, didn’t they mean anything?
What about all their shared memories? The night she had snuck out to meet him; the long adventurous car drive that had turned into less of an adventure when they had gotten a flat tire on a deserted road. The time he had taught her to surf; they had spent so many hours in the ocean that they emerged back onto land, wrinkled like prunes from the water, encrusted in a film of salty residue. The ice-cream cones eaten under the shade of the docks; people watching the other beach goers, laughing at the old men in Speedos as they licked their cool treats.
They passed a lifeguard chair, a house.
Each step in the sand and each babbled word from Chase, trying to fill the heavy silence, drew them closer and closer to the destination she never wanted to reach. When they finally reached the weather-beaten wooden stairs that crept up over the dunes, laying out a worn walkway to her house, her stomach churned like she had eaten something bad.
She shook as Chase spoke.
“Well goodbye, I guess. I’m glad we could spend the summer together. I’ll never forget it.” He said, speaking slowly, as if carefully picking out each word before saying it.
The night was cool, and silent except for the gently lapping of waves in the background. Reagan remembered the one night they had spent out here with flashlights, chasing sand crabs across the beach, and laughing whenever they’d caught one. For a few moments, the silence stayed unbroken. Chase rocked back and forth on his feet, his hands jammed into his pockets, while Reagan studied the boy she thought she could have loved eventually. Even in the dark, he was a handsome sight, with muscles in all the right places.
Another tear fled silently down her cheek.
And then like that tear, which trickled down her face to a sandy death, he was gone. A figure walking down the beach, soon devoured in the darkness.
For just a minute in the rhythm of the waves, Reagan thought she could hear another melody; one Chase had sung to her long ago. The bittersweet tune replayed in her head as she watched the blackness he’d been swallowed into, as if hoping he would somehow reappear with new intentions.
But Reagan knew the awful truth. Chase wasn’t coming back. What had began as a kiss had ended as a broken heart.