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The Sand Holds Secrets
It was dark on the beach as the late August wind rustled softly through the dunes. The waves brushed against the rocky coast and the sand went shh shh as I shifted my legs. The stars dotted the sky like diamonds on a vast velvet cloth. I found myself mesmerized beyond words. It wasn’t just the sky, though, that was keeping me speechless.
We hadn’t done this in years-just me and him-together and alone.
“Beach,” he’d said to me, just an hour earlier. “In thirty minutes?”
I’d been shocked and taken back. Not at what he’d said, but more of the fact that he’d said anything to me at all.
Now here we were, sitting in silence for the past hour or so, listening to the sounds of the beach. My body was tense, and I was hypersensitive to anything he did. The hairs on my arm shot straight up as he adjusted his right leg. The material of his khakis making a shh shh.
Soon, I found myself beginning to debate his motives for bringing me here. Money? Girl advice? Secrets? The situation made me anxious.
As if sensing my anxiety, Stephen sighed. I snapped my head to look at him. In the starry light, I could vaguely make out the form of his face. The slant of his nose. The flutter of his eyelashes as he blinked. His eyes watching the crashing waves.
Finally, an additional sigh was followed by, “We haven’t done this in a while”.
And just like that, those simple words caused any tension, anxiety or anger between us to shatter into a million little pieces like a glass vase dropped on a marble floor. Six words and months of hostility and alienation had danced away with the wind.
I kept quite for a second, still watching his face. “Haven’t done it in months,” I added.
“Months?” He turned his head towards me. In the starry light I was able to make out the shining of his blue eyes and whiteness of his teeth. His lips curled up into a smile. “Have Gillian and I been together for that long?”
“No.” I paused, feeling chills run down my spine at the sound of her name. “We just stopped...before that...happened...” I let my voice trail off.
Another long sigh drew from Stephen’s lips. He flopped back onto the sand. Shh shh. I drew my skinny chicken legs up against my body, feeling suddenly self conscious at the mention of Gillian’s name. I ran my hands over the skin of my calves, feeling the goosebumps that now covered them. I was cold and it was dark; usually these two elements made me want to go home, but at this moment there was no place I’d rather be.
I sat there in the darkness, wondering what our next topic of conversation might be. With Stephen, the topics always jumped around. One minute we could be talking about a movie, and the next Stephen would be telling me about some girl he liked, but I guess that could be attributed to his ADD.
We weren’t talking though. It seemed as if both of our minds were still wrapped around the fact that he’d mentioned her name, or at least mine was. So finally, I boldly cut the silence with a knife.
“Are we going to talk?” I said, my tone almost verging on annoyed.
Stephen chuckled, “Are you mad?”
“To be honest,” I said, “Yes.”
He laughed again.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing,” he said, still laughing. His laughter, the contagious kind that makes you smile, echoed along the beach.
A unwilling smile spread across my face as I tried to keep my voice collected and serious. “No, seriously. What’s so hilarious?”
He shook his head, his blonde hair glinted briefly in the moonlight as he’d swung it around in front of his face. My heart skipped a beat slightly, and the hair on my arms stood up as he turned his face to me.
“You haven’t changed.” His white teeth glowed ominously in the darkness.
I blushed. “What do you mean?”
“I mean you’re still the same Charlie. Same stubborn Charlie.”
Confused I asked, “Is that a good thing?”
“A very good thing,” he mused. Then to my surprise, added, “It’s good when people stay the same. I’m so sick of people changing.”
I pressed on, interested, “Who’s changed?”
“Don’t play dumb,” Stephen said, his voice now serious, any trace of laughter gone.
“Just gonna take a wild guess here,” I said, smirking. “Gillian?”
Stephen coughed. I took that as a yes.
“Let’s just not talk about that, okay?” His voice was soft.
I was shocked by the sudden tenderness of his voice and, it made my heart pound furiously and my palms sweat. Nervously, I wiped my hand against the sand. I stopped. My fingertips were on fire, they’d made contact with Stephen’s hand. An electric charge surged through my body. I jumped. Had he moved closer?
My face furiously hot, I turned away from Stephen feeling like he might see me blushing in the darkness.
Shh shh, the sand said.
Stephen moved his body closer to mine. My heart pounded violently and I suddenly found it difficult to breathe. The scent of his cologne was overwhelming, and the close proximity of his skin set my entire body on fire.
Shh shh, whispered the sand.
I could feel his face, close to mine. His breath ticked the side of my cheek. Shivers ran down my spine. It was so tempting and it took all I had not to turn around and kiss him. I wondered if he could feel it too.
“Charlie,” he said softly, his words gently caressing my cheek. “Look at me.”
I bowed my head down and began to examine the salmon color of my shorts and the goosebumps on my legs. My front teeth dug into my lip as I resisted the urge to kiss him.
Kiss him. Kiss him. Kiss him. My mind repeated. Isn’t this what you want?
But I couldn’t.
“Charlie,” he said again, his voice like the warmth of flannel sheets or hot chocolate. It wrapped itself around me like a boa constrictor.
The pain was killing me.
“You have to leave,” I said abruptly.
“You know why,” I said shakily, keeping my eyes glued down and my hands steady. Could he feel me shaking? Could he feel what he was doing to me?
“She doesn’t matter,” he said, reaching out and running his finger down the back of my shirt. “Not anymore, at least.”
Tears fell from my eyes and hit the sand. “But she will, and you know it.”
“Don’t lie to me, Stephen,” I said, turning my head and looking at him.
Those electrifying blue eyes locked with mine and his lips curled into a smile. His gaze paralyzed me against the sand and I couldn’t move. Gently, he reached up and caressed my face with his hand. “Would I ever lie to my best friend?”
I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out. They caught in my throat, and stayed wedged there as Stephen leaned gently towards me. My heart pounded, I could hear it in my head.
His lips brushed mine. At first, a wave of shock passed over my body. What was I doing? He was my best friend and he had a girlfriend. This was wrong, and I knew it, but for some cliche reason- it felt right. It felt right to have his lips on mine and his hand intertwined through my hair. So right that I just let the moment wash over me like the ocean’s tide. We fell back on to the sand together, forgetting about the world.
Shh shh, said the sand, keeping our secret.