Stuck Between Two
Author's note: Came up with the inspiration when I went beach camping last summer.
Don’t even start with me. Just stop. Don’t remind me of the summer. Last summer. I don’t want to remember. Do you remember? I do. But please, don’t remind me. I don’t want to know. Last summer. Damn it. I promised myself I wouldn’t be reminded. But I can’t help myself when I think of you.
Do you remember when you first met me? You smiled. I smiled back. But turned away quickly. You couldn’t help but to come up to me and ask me my name. I told you.
“Payton,” I said.
And you replied in the sexiest voice, “Hot. I’m Brayden.”
Brayden. No, what a hot name you had.
“How long will you be out here?” you asked me.
“All summer,” I said with a smile. That pleased you.
We were at the beach that whole entire summer. Me in my beach house and you in yours. Me with my cousins and you with your guy friends. Each of you with your own girlfriends, except you. Then you found me, out of every girl you could have picked at the beach, that summer. But you stuck with me. And thinking to myself, it was hard to believe. But it was real. And I don’t know how much more real it could have gotten. But it was, until you got mad at me one humid night, when I was with you, at your house. I was next to your friend, Chad, whose girlfriend had dumped him while she was there, and left, a week before that night. She just packed up and left. Without saying one word to anyone. And he didn’t stop her. He just let her go. But that night, in your house, you got mad. Really mad. Because you saw Chad holding my hand. And I let him. But you wouldn’t let me explain.
“Brayden, let me explain,” I said.
You just stared at me.
You grabbed Chad by the collar of his shirt, punched him, and gave me a disgusted look.
Chad whipped his lip to see if there was any blood. I got up and went to your side to hold your arm back from punching him anymore.
“Brayden, please just listen to me, will you?” I said again.
“Dude, what was that for?” Chad asked.
You just ran out of the house without saying a word. Everyone went looking for you that night. But nobody could find you. For days. I stayed at your house with everyone as we continued to look for you. But still, you were nowhere to be found. Finally, on the last day of being at the beach, I found a letter from you on the chair outside of my house. You said:
I’m sorry I just ran off like that and never came back. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. But I didn’t go far. I just purposely stayed away. I shouldn’t have gotten like that with you. You didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t mad that Chad was holding your hand, for whatever reason. I just couldn’t handle anything anymore. I wish I could tell you what I mean by that. But I know you’re leaving and it’s not something I can explain to you over a letter, or note. Whatever this is. And who knows, I’ll probably be gone by then. We’ll never know. The number I have now will be disconnected. So you won’t be able to get a hold of me. Ever. But I’m really glad you were the girl I got to spend half of my summer with. Thank you. I hope you grow up and do great things with and in your life.
That was the last time I had ever heard from you. And you were right; I did lose all contact with you. I don’t know where you’re right now, or what you’re doing. Or if you’re even alive. I try not to think of last summer, because it hurts too much to know I’m never going to see you again. But I hope you’re out there somewhere, doing just as okay as I am.
Here I am at the beach, this summer, again. This time, I’m with all my friends and their boyfriends, except myself. And this time, I don’t have anyone to look forward to seeing every day. Because here I am, still wishing, hoping, that maybe you’d finally show up and come back to me. So we could pick up where we left off last summer.
I walked out to your old house. It looked empty and I didn’t bother going any closer. I stood there for a few minutes, thinking, remembering. And then walked back four houses over to mine.
“Payton,” my friend Shelah said.
“Yeah?” I replied.
“Get happy! It’s our summer. We’re out of school Pay! College life now baby!”
She was enthused. I still wasn’t.
I shrugged. “Yeah, I know.”
She frowned and nudged me. “Come on you big butt, have some fun and lighten up a bit.”
Her boyfriend Dylan wrapped his arms around her from behind. That reminded me of when you randomly came up and wrapped your arms around me. Her reflection with him reminded me of us. I let out a sigh. Tough luck.
I sat down on the long five seated couch (even though we always squished about ten people on here). It was still light out, almost near dinner. Four lovely couples scattered out throughout the house were all occupied doing random things. What fun this was going to be. Not.
“Payton, I got an idea. Why don’t you and I go out, in like twenty minutes and go get fire wood so we can have a bon fire tonight,” Shelah encouraged.
“Alright, I’ll be here waiting for you,” I said.
“Okay! Come on Dylan, we gotta go in for a quickie,” she giggled. Ew.
“Only twenty minutes, babe?” he frowned.
“No. I have to leave in twenty, so that means we only have fifteen minutes. Hurry, let’s go!” She dragged him into one of the rooms. Probably their room, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who hadn’t chosen a room yet. If I even got a room at all.
Twenty minutes later, Dylan came out. Shelah wasn’t beside him. He was putting on his shirt as he was walking toward me.
“Hey, Shelah fell asleep. So I’ll go with you.”
“She fell asleep, that quick?” I asked. How was that even possible?
“Yeah. She got out of the shower and laid down and fell asleep.”
“Ohh. . .The shower?” I questioned.
“Uhm, yes? We took a shower.”
Whoops, my bad.
“Ohh, right. A shower. Okay, well you ready then?”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
I jumped off the couch, feeling stupid for thinking she meant “quickie” as in sex.
“Do you know what we’re having for dinner tonight? I’m starving,” Dylan said as he walked out the door and hopped down the stairs.
“Nope. I was just thinking about calling in for pizza,” I said with a shrug.
“Ew, pizza. You can’t have that kind of food while you’re at the beach! We have five very lovely ladies here with us and a huge ass kitchen,” he smiled. “I think you girls should cook us guys some real food.” He winked.
I chuckled lightly. “You’re funny as hell. We can cook pizza then. If you want cooked homemade real food,” I emphasized.
Dylan stuck his tongue out at me and flipped me off, “you suck.”
I gave him a playful nudge as we continued to walk along the beach, searching for wood, and passing by your house. We walked in silence for about five minutes and then Dylan ran over to a pile of random fire wood lying in the middle of the sand.
“Look what I found. Score!” Dylan cheered. He bent down and started grabbing it. I knelt down next to him. “Hmm, that’s weird. What’s all this wood doing here?”
“I have no idea but who cares. We found some, so that’s all that matters.”
I shrugged. “True. S***, we should have brought a bag or something.”
“Woman, just grab the wood and let’s go. Before somebody thinks we’re stealing it.”
I stood up beside him and lowered my eyebrows at him.
“Somebody like who exactly? Nobody’s around Dylan.”
He looked at me and laughed.
“Just grab it and let’s go, please.”
I grabbed as much as I could fit into my arms. Dylan did too. And then we headed back to the house, passing by your house, once again.
Shelah was outside sitting on the stairs with her pouting face on.
“Thanks for not waking me up, jerks,” she said.
“Sorry babe. I wanted you to sleep,” Dylan said while placing the wood next to the stairs. He took mine and did the same.
“Sorry Shelah. We had to leave before the sun went down.”
“See, we got back at the nick of the time, the sun’s setting now.”
She looked over the beach and saw the sun setting perfectly with the light reflecting off the sky.
“Yeah, yeah. What’s for dinner? I’m hungry.”
Gez. This couple and their eating habits. No wonder they’re perfect for each other. They’re pigs!
“Make yourself a dang quesadilla. Gosh,” I said. They both laughed.
“Fine, babe, take out the burgers. I’ll barbeque, you guys can chill,” Dylan suggested. Shelah gave him a kiss as she stood up.
“You’re amazing babe.”
She ran into the house to take out the patties.
“Thanks. Hey, I’ll be right back,” I said to Dylan.
“Okay,” he replied.
I walked back over to your house, slowly. But I noticed something different. The chair that was normally sitting outside your house wasn’t there anymore and a burnt out cigarette bud was still producing smoke, lying in the ash tray.
I couldn’t help myself but to take a closer look. So I walked up to the window and looked inside. I saw the couch. The last place I was where I had last seen you. And beyond that couch, there was the kitchen, with a stove. And on the stove was a pot of steaming water. Steaming. And now, I was scared. But I didn’t want to knock. I didn’t want to know what could have been in your old house. So I ran all the way back to my house.
The patties were already on the grill. And Shelah was kissing on Dylan as he had the spatula in one hand, his hand on her ass with the other and a big old smile glued to his face. I didn’t say a word to them. I just walked right past them and into the house. Stevie and Lynn were sleeping on the couch. Ashley and Amber were watching TV. Brody and Austin were playing pool. I guess everyone just got in from their little adventure walk.
I went into the kitchen and sat on a stool. Amber turned around from the couch and looked at me. I gave her a small smile.
“Hey girl, you okay,” she asked.
“Yeah, just extremely bored,” I replied.
“Do you want to go out to the water?”
“Nah, it’s too cold.”
It was pretty chilly out. But that’s the kind of weather I loved at the beach. It all looked so pretty. But of course, the sun was nice too. I tanned really well this time of year in the sun.
“Oh, alright. Well, do you want to sit and watch TV?”
“I can see from here, thanks though.”
I didn’t mean to sound all pushy. But I suddenly had a lot on my mind.
“If you say so.” She turned back around to face the TV once again.
Immediately after being lost in thought for a good twenty minutes or so, the food was ready. And I was starving now.
“Foods done!” Dylan yelled. Brody and Austin ran out of the game room immediately. I stood up and pushed the stool back in its place.
Outside, I saw Shelah off in the distance talking to someone. A young girl, nearly around twelve, maybe. The girl was alone. I walked over by Dylan, who was putting his and Shelahs burgers together.
“Who’s Shelah talking to?” I asked.
He shrugged, “I dunno. A neighbor.”
“She came out of that house.”
He pointed over your direction.
“The house with the light on outside?” I asked.
He meant your house.
I ran over to Shelah. The girl looked innocent enough.
“Hey,” I said directly to Shelah.
She gasped, “Oh hey, you scared me.”
The girl turned red.
“Who is she?” I asked.
Shelah cleared her throat.
“Uhh…Tiffany,” Shelah said.
“Tiffany? Tiffany what?”
Tiffany turned around to face your house.
“Tiffany Allen,” Tiffany said.
Allen…Allen, Allen, Allen…
I gasped dramatically.
“Allen! Oh my…”
I trailed off immediately. And felt a tear. A few tears actually. She was you. Well, not you. But pretty damn close.
“Do you…know Brayden?” I hesitated.
She turned around quickly to face us once again. She looked like you.
“I have to go,” she said. She ran away. I didn’t say anything else. I knew she knew you. And so did you.
Between hidden tears, I managed to collapse onto the floor, bury my face in my hands and cry. Shelah bent down right next to me, put her hand on my back and rubbed it in light circles. She didn’t say a word. Because she knew I knew what you knew. And she knew, like you knew, that I couldn’t handle it.