Stuck Between Two
Author's note: Came up with the inspiration when I went beach camping last summer.
Comfort FriendChapter 3
The girls and I had our beach towels laid out all side by side. We were tanning with our hair up, sunglasses on. The boys were all playing football along the wet sand. A few other people were out on the beach as well, even though this was privately owned property. I thought over my current situation I was in as I laid there. You’re not so sure of this yet, hopefully you get my letter. But what I meant by “get rid of it” plays a big factor on your part. So then I remembered when it happened.
It was the most beautiful day of the summer today, I can guarantee it! And Brayden and I decided that we’d spend it together. My cousins went down town to shop and his friends were all walking the beach. So we had both houses to ourselves. Which to choose from. I was pretty young still. Only seventeen. And I barely found this out, but Brayden’s eighteen and just graduated high school. No wonder he was out here for the summer. We both sat on his couch with our arms and legs sprawled out, not knowing what to do.
“I’m hot,” I said.
“Me too,” he said.
“What do you wanna do?”
“Hmm,” he thought, for awhile.
“I don’t know, what do you want to do?”
I hated when the question was put back on you. That’s why you ask it in the first place, so you don’t get asked first without knowing how to answer it.
“Well I intentionally asked you first so I wouldn’t have to decide.”
I looked at him. He looked at me as he smiled. Then leaned in and kissed me. And from there, we found out what we were going to do. And we did it.
As time had pass, we had made it from the couch to his room. He laid there. I laid there, eyes open and glued to the ceiling.
“That was fun,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said breathlessly.
“You gonna be okay?” he asked me.
“Yeah, I think so.”
See, he figured out that was only my second time. Ever. And he reassured me over a million times that everything was going to be okay. And that he was glad I wanted to do it with him. And there’s no doubt about it. I wasn’t going to go off and regret it like most other girls do, or did. I was ready for it, with him.
“Let’s do it again?” he asked.
I laughed. “No, that’s enough for now.”
He didn’t complain, which was good. It showed he respected me, which was also good.
“So now do you want to do?” he asked.
We both laughed.
After remembering what you and I did, I couldn’t forget. That’s part of the reason why I’m hurting so bad. How could you not know? Suddenly, after being on the beach for a good forty-five minutes, I felt a heavy push on my back, with four legs crawling over me. I immediately flipped over and looked above me, the sun shining straight on my face.
“What the hell was that?” I shouted.
I heard running. And someone yelling, “Buster! Buster!”
I looked to my right. Of course. I looked to my left. Yup. A man running after his dog. Buster stopped once he ran into Brody. He played with the dog for awhile. The man came up to me.
“That’s why we privately own this part of the beach, sir. So we don’t have damn dogs running around,” I proclaimed.
He looked at me apologetically.
“Ma’am, I’m so sorry. He just got loose,” he said.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said.
“I’m Zack by the way. I live two houses over that way. This won’t happen again, promise.”
He pointed the opposite direction of your house. He looked young, knowledgeable, cute, smart.
“Alright, well I’m Payton.”
He smiled. “Alright, good to know.”
“Hey! Is this your dog?” Brody yelled.
Zack looked over. “Yeah! Thanks man.”
Zack ran over to Buster and turned back to say, “Nice meeting you.” Then he took Buster, him and Brody did that guy high five- handshake, and off he went. All the girls were in “awe.”
“Wow Payton, he is cute!” Lynn said.
“Yeah, he was pretty cute,” I replied.
I didn’t want to openly admit that I was still into you and totally not looking for someone to hook up with this summer. Not like I was looking for anyone to hook up with last summer either. It just happened.
“You should totally get on that s***!” Amber cheered.
I shrugged. “Eh, I’m not really looking for someone to get with.”
They all looked at me in disbelief. I hadn’t told any of them what you and I did last summer. I wouldn’t dare to. They would freak.
“You’re freakin’ crazy girl. He’s a cutie!” she said.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
A few pointless days later, still no word from Tiffany about if you’d replied, I decided I’d go out to see if Zack was around anywhere. I hadn’t seen him again since that incident with his dog. I was up bright and early this morning. It was a little foggy outside. A boat was off in the distance of the sea with its bright lights on. I put on jeans and threw on a sweater. My hair was still curled from yesterday, so it was all cute and messy.
Before I went out, I made myself a cup of coffee. Once it was done, I threw a few packs of sugar in and some creamer. Then I threw on my shoes and went out the door, trying not to slam it, just in case people were still sleeping. I didn’t want to wake anyone up. I’m extremely ready to do something with my life. I would so live out on the beach. If I asked, my aunt and uncle would totally let me live in that house. Last summer when we came out here, only my cousins and I stayed here. Their parents went to Chicago or something. But my oldest cousin was twenty- four back then, so she was old enough to watch over us. But yeah, my aunt and uncle would totally let me live at the house. And the college I got a full ride scholarship to is over here, so I would just go there. I wouldn’t have to pay for anything! I’d be one hell of a lucky girl. I could throw the best damn parties in the city! I at least want to get married before twenty- five, so I could look for a husband while I’m out here. And we could raise a family. And I could get my life started! But no, it sounded that easy, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t that easy because of you. What happened to us being together forever? What happened to us moving to Oregon and raising a family together? What happened to you loving me? Was I just supposed to drop all that and move on? I mean, if you would have stayed and not ran off like you did without me ever seeing or hearing from you again, we would be raising a family right now.
I walked west of the house, the opposite direction of yours, because Zack said that’s where he lived. I was thinking about going up to his door and knocking or something, but I wasn’t sure who else was staying with him. Maybe he was married, or with his girlfriend. But why else would he tell me where he lived? Oh, probably to let me know he owned property here, too. Yeah, maybe that’s it.
What I decided to do was wait on the little bench outside his house. Hopefully he would come out. I faced the sea. Shivers ran through me. It was extremely cold outside. I couldn’t stop thinking of last summer. And I had another memory.
Brayden had all his friends with him this summer. One of his best friends, Nick, well, that was probably like his blood brother. Anyway, he was cute! I mean, not as hot as Brayden, but he was pretty damn hot. He kind of kept eye- balling me a lot ever since I’ve been around Brayden. He even had a girlfriend, Lacy. But Lacy kept eye- balling Chad. But Chad was dating Brianna. But Brianna was acting sort of weird and it seemed like she didn’t want to be there. Anyway, it was just the six of us this summer, just hanging out. My cousin Jenny would come hang out with us from time to time, but she mostly gave Brayden and me our space. Besides, she was keeping her eye on some guy she had seen when we first got here. Nick was super sweet. He made sure everyone had what they needed before anything else went on. One thing I liked about Brayden was that he’s super sweet, but he also has that playful- mean side to him. Whenever he got mad, it was hot!
All of us where chilling at the carnival just outside the beach. We had already gone on all of the rides, played all the games and took pictures in the photo booth. I was sitting down at a picnic bench while Lacy, Brayden, Chad, Brianna and Nick were waiting in line for food.
“Hey,” I heard a familiar voice say.
I turned around. It was Nick.
“Hey Nick,” I said.
“Why are you over here alone?”
“Oh, saving the table for us.” I made it simple, but that wasn’t the real reason why I was over here.
“Oh, well can I join you?” he asked.
“Sure.” I couldn’t say no. That would have been rude. But I really wanted to be alone.
He sat down across from me. That stupid carnival merry- go- round music kept repeating over and over again. It was pretty annoying.
I wasn’t too sure what Nick was looking for, or at, but he kept looking around like he was trying to make sure nobody was watching us.
“You okay?” I asked him.
He didn’t answer me.
“Nick,” I said. He still didn’t answer.
“Nick, hello?” I said again while tapping his hand. He quickly caught my hand with his other and didn’t let go.
“What are you doing?” I asked, trying to take my hand back, but he wouldn’t let me. He looked at me suddenly.
“Payton,” he began, “you’re beautiful, you know that?”
I knew Nick had always had an eye on me for something, but I didn’t know why.
“Well thanks,” I said. He still had my hand cupped between his.
“You’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re funny, you deserve so much more then . . .” he faded off because he heard Brayden yelling around the corner, “Woo! Free food!” He snatched his hands away and stood up. Brayden came over to us and set down the food and kissed me.
“Hey babe,” he said.
“Hey,” I say.”
“We totally got half of our meal for free. It was awesome,” he chanted.
Bradyen was such a goof ball.
“Why?” I asked, wondering what crazy lie they came up with to manage that.
“Oh, they messed up on our order so they cut half the price for us. Saved me twenty bucks, thank God.”
He sat down, and we ate. And as Nick sat across from me, again, he stared. And Lacy and Brayden never even noticed.
I wasn’t too sure if Zack was ever going to come out. Maybe he didn’t even live at this house. Or maybe he had left early this morning. But all of a sudden, I hear a bark. And more constant barking. And then I knew that was Buster. And Zack yelled, “Shut up!” I laughed. Buster continued to bark. I heard the door creek open.
“God damn it Buster, pee then!” he yelled. Buster ran out and ran over to me.
“Payton?” he said.
I turned around and pet Buster.
“Hey boy,” I said to the dog. “Hey Zack,” I said to him.
Buster kept licking my hand. He was one friendly fellow.
“What are you doing?” he asked as he came down to me at the bench.
“Just wanted to stop by. I hadn’t seen you around.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I know. I figured I’d stay in so Buster wouldn’t disturb you guys again.”
“Oh! You didn’t have to do that!” Now I felt terribly bad for getting all defensive with him the other day.
“Hah, I’m only kidding. I went out for a few days. I had some work to do.”
“Oh alright. You work over here?”
“Yeah, I do live here you know.”
“Well yeah I know that but you don’t just come here for the summer?”
“No. I permanently live here. I’m going to college over here at Pacific Valley University, so I stay here.”
I was extremely shocked. Pacific Valley is where I had got my scholarship too.
“No way! I have a full ride scholarship to go there!”
He grinned. “Really? That’s awesome! It’s a great school. I really like it. I’m about to start my third year.”
Wow. Well he must be old.
“I know. I heard it was a really good school. And I could either live in the dorms or at the beach house right here and it would be perfect!”
It really would be perfect and I could honestly say that’s the truth.
“Wow, you have it good! You gonna go?”
I kind of shrugged, giving a weary expression.
“Well, I don’t know. I want to, I should, but I’m not ready to be on my own yet.”
“You won’t be on your own, completely. I could show you around and stuff. If I did it, you can too.” He smiled, I smiled back. He was sweet.
“How old are you then? Twenty- four?”
He laughed hysterically, almost falling over.
“Do I really look that old? I just turned twenty.”
Whoops. I felt bad, again. He really knew how to make my feel guilty.
“I’m so sorry. I just thought, you know, since you live alone and all.”
He sat down at the empty space next to me and took hold of the now wild Buster.
“It’s alright. And yeah, this used to be my parents house but once I turned eighteen, they gave it to me and moved. I’m their last kid so they decided to do what they were going to do.”
“That’s cool. Good for you,” I said. I smiled again, this time looking deep into his hazel- green eyes, memorizing him. He was gorgeous. I couldn’t help it, looking at him. He was way sweeter then I suspected him to be. I had hoped he wouldn’t be one of those creeper stalker guys, since for all I know, he could have been. But it totally isn’t like against the law for me to hook up with him or anything because I’m an adult now. But that’s not what I want. If anything, I want a guy who’s going to respect me and not get me pregnant for the life of me. I mean, we both know what I mean. Or at least I hope you know by now.
“Alright, I’ll seriously put more thought into it and consider it this time. I promise.”
He then smiled again. Although, his smile had never really left his face because he seemed so damn happy for some reason.
“Good. So you doing anything today? I know it’s kind of cold and all,” he mentioned.
“Nope. Probably just staying in.”
“Yeah, same here.”
He kind of just kicked the sand with his foot, looking down from me. I saw him bite his lip.
“Well, you want to hang out or something?” he finally asked.
“I thought you’d never ask, I’d love to,” I said with a smile.
He jumped up and took my hand.
“Cool. Come on.”
He ran into the house as I followed beside him and Buster did too. He grabbed his keys, threw on a jacket. I set down my coffee cup and he lead me out front to his car. A beautiful car too, I must say.
“Holy mother of. . .” I said in awe. He chuckled.
“What?” he said sarcastically.
“Beautiful car,” I said as he opened the door for me.
“Thank you,” he said as I got in and he ran to the driver’s seat.
“It was my dad’s but he didn’t want it anymore so he gave it to me for my twentieth birthday.”
Seriously, he must have been rich or something. But I didn’t want to ask and sound nosy.
“Awesome. I wish my parents had nice cars like that. They just helped me buy a cheap used one.”
He kept both hands on the wheel as he backed out of the drive way.
“Yeah. Cars are really expensive. But I’m lucky enough to have parents who saved up their whole lives.”
Yeah, luck for sure. Everyone’s been lucky enough to have parents who could afford to buy their kid a car. Except mine. As always. I guess I can’t really blame my parents though. We did have a difficult time for the longest while when my dad lost his job and my mom only worked three eight hour shifts a week. I didn’t understand how we were living but we managed it somehow.
“Yeah, you are really lucky. I can’t imagine it,” I said.
He still had both hands on the wheel. And he looked even hotter driving his already beautiful car.
“So what brings you out here this summer?” he asks me.
Nobody knew my real reason. And I wasn’t about to tell him it was because of you. So I told him the story I told everyone else why we should come out here and they had all agreed to it.
“Graduation vacation,” I said. I’m guessing he completely understood because he laughed.
“Of course. Whole house to what, four young couples and that means you can do whatever the hell you want? I get’cha,” he said. His grip sort of tightened around the wheel. His speed increased rapidly.
“Yeah, technically. I just wanted to get away from home and I love it here. I was here all last summer.”
“I was in Italy all last summer with my mom.”
How adorable. Italy with his mom. See, that’s the kind of things I wish my mom and I did together. Went on vacation. But we couldn’t afford that either. And I know it wasn’t their fault. Things just happen.
“Awesome. Did you guys have fun?” I asked him. We were still headed to where ever he was taking me. This road looked familiar.
“Yeah, mostly. She had wanted to go so badly and I had to do a project for my history class on Italy so I went with her. I was taking a few summer classes online.”
“Wow, well that’s good. I’ve never been to Italy. Always wanted to go though.”
“Oh it’s great.”
Way to rub it in.
“So which one of those guys on the beach was your boyfriend?” he suddenly asked.
I looked at him. He looked at me for a second and grinned.
“Which one?” he said again with a smirk.
“None of them,” I said with a nod.
All his tension that I noticed he had built up, released instantly when I saw his shoulders lower.
“Really? You don’t have a boyfriend or what, he just couldn’t come?”
“I don’t have one,” I said swiftly.
“Oh,” he said. “Well I figured a young attractive girl would be going out with one of those big hunks,” he laughed.
“Oh, so you think they’re attractive? I see,” I said playfully.
“Totally. Brody’s his name, right? What a babe!” he said jokingly. I laughed along with him.
“Yeah, he’s cute, but definitely not my type. And he’s dating one of my best friends.”
“All of them like you, I guarantee it. They just don’t want to hurt their girlfriends’ feelings and they all know they can’t have you.”
I looked out the right side window, out onto the border of the sea. We continued to drive along the coast. Maybe you were somewhere out here. Maybe, just maybe, one day sooner or later I’d come across you. And all of a sudden, I felt a jolt.
“Whoa,” Zack said.
I jumped. “What was that?”
More jolting, shaking.
“An earthquake?” he guessed.
I screamed. I hate earthquakes. He pulled over to the side of the road. Cars raced past us.
“What are you doing?!” I yelled. Probably over exaggerating just a little much but I didn’t care at this point.
“Well, you screamed. We’re having an earthquake and under those conditions, I can’t drive,” he said. Right.
I got out of the car and slammed the door. The wind was dramatically blowing. He rolled down the window and yelled, “What are you doing Payton? Get back in here!”
The shaking had stopped. Earth was fine. I got back into the car. My pocket buzzed. Shelah was calling.
“Hello?” I said into the phone.
“Where are you Payton?” she asked.
“Sorry, I forgot to tell you. I went out with Zack.”
She gasped. “The guy with the dog the other day?”
“Well where are you? Did you feel that earthquake? Are you okay?”
“Yes Shelah. Enough with the million questions. We pulled off to the side of the road.”
“You’re in the car?!” she screeched.
“You’re in the house?!” I said sarcastically. “Shelah, I’m fine. I’ll text you when I get back. Bye.”
I hung up the phone.
“Who was that?” Zack asked.
“Shelah. She was just making sure everything’s okay,” I say.
“Oh alright.” He started the car back up again. Neither of us said a word to each other as he drove a mile more up the road, turned left into an empty parking lot, and turned off the car.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to come here but never had anybody to come with. So I figured I’d bring you along.”
I got out of the car, he did as well. He had brought me to a deserted parking lot and at the very end of it was a Ferris wheel. It was exactly identical to the one at the carnival I was at with you and everyone else last summer. Zack followed after me as I walked towards it.
“How long has this been here?” I ask, hands in my sweater pocket and rushing closer to it.
“Uhm, about ten months I’m guessing. It usually opens on Saturdays but nobody really knows about it.”
“Where did it come from?”
“I wish I knew.”
I finally reached the destination after walking the parking lot for what seemed like an eternity.
“Why did you want to know?” he asked.
I reached the border gate. Everything looked so empty. It’s not like it was surrounded in dead bushes and trees. It was the most beautiful scene I had ever seen in my life. It was surrounded with blossoming trees and many flowers. It seemed completely unreal.
“I’ve been on here before, on this ride,” I said, looking closely at it, remembering. He looked at me like I was crazy or something.
“Last summer, at the carnival.
“They had a carnival along this road out here. Last summer, when you were in Italy. I remember it.”
“I don’t remember anyone saying anything about any carnival here last summer. Are you sure?”
And then I remembered. If Zack had lived in that house for a long time now, had he seen you around anywhere? Had he met you before? Or gone to a school with you once in his life? But I didn’t ask him, you know. Because I didn’t want to ruin anything between us. I felt like a complete whore.
“Oh alright. Well yeah, it’s pretty, huh?”
I walked around and traced the big circle. He stayed in one spot and watched me. And of course, I had another memory of us.
Over the hills and far away laid a young city girl with so much to say. A whole life ahead of her, afar in a place. Where she had surrounded her life with a face. A boy and a girl in eternity forever. From the moment they both said that they’d be together.
Chad and Nick were out surfing. Brayden wasn’t too far behind them. He was sitting, legs over, on his board, looking hotter than ever. He definitely had the nicest body out of all of them. I didn’t get along with Lacy and Brianna too much. They were nice girls and all but they didn’t want me going after their guys. I mean, why would I? I am way to into Brayden to be falling for any of their guys. After that encounter with Nick last week, he’s been looking at me a lot. I was pretty creped out by that. Every time I noticed him turning to look at me, I would turn the other direction or go to Brayden. The boy was freakin crazy. A huge ass wave was about to come crashing down on all three boys. Chad was definitely the surfer type boy. Brayden was only doing it for fun. And Nick really didn’t know what he was doing. Anyone could tell he looked completely clueless out there. Brianna walked out to the water and called, “Chad honey, I’m gonna go in and change! It’s too cold out here!”
Cold my ass. It was like a hundred degrees out here.
“Uh, okay!” Chad yelled as the wave overcame them.
Brianna pranced back into the house. Not exactly the boyfriend committed type, I could tell. Once she wasn’t in view anymore, Lacy turned to face me.
“You know where she went, right?”
“Inside the house?” I said, unsure of why she was asking.
“Yeah, but she’s going to lock her room and sneak out front.”
“To go see Angie, duh!”
She looked at me as if I was stupid. How the hell was I supposed to know who Angie was? And why was she sneaking out to go see a girl?
“Angie, a girl?” I asked dumbly.
“Yeah. Angie, a girl. Brianna’s bi.”
My face completely dropped. Like to my knees dropped.
“Eww, she is?!” I screamed.
“Yeah. Be quite though. Chad can’t find out. Don’t even tell Brayden that I told you.”
I nodded. Brianna, bi? No way. No wonder why it looked like she didn’t want to be here.
“She’s going to leave. Right now. Gone, forever. Well, not forever. Just leaving with Angie. Like literally, packing up her things and leaving.”
“Why? We have to tell Chad!”
“No. we can’t. He can’t know. If you even think about telling anyone, you’ll be sorry.”
Alright. Death threats now? This girl has got to be kidding me.
Right then we saw Chad running up to the house.
“Wait Chad, where are you going?” Lacy hollered.
“Bathroom!” he yelled as he continued to run. Hah, busted.
“No! You can’t go in there!”
“Sorry, have to.”
Before Lacy could even get up to catch up to him, we all heard the door slam shut.
“She’s going to get caught,” I said.
“Hopefully she left already.”
Brayden was making his way up t me. Nick was still being his nerdy self out in the water.
I hopped up to wrap my arms around the soaking wet Brayden. I had a rush of butterflies going through me. He kissed me.
“Hey,” he said with that breathe taking smile of his.
“Hi,” I said.
“I’ve missed you.”
“I never left,” I said coolly.
He smiled again, kissed me again, and I laid my head on his chest. We all heard another slam on the door and a now very angry Chad yell out, “F*** you!” He was extremely aggravated. Like completely pissed.
You and I rode this thing so many times that day. At night, with the cool breeze rushing against our skin, lying against you as you cradled me in your arms so I’d feel safe. So I know that you’d catch me if I fall. When I reached the front, I climbed over the gate into the entry way. Luckily, there was just a big enough opening for me to fit in. I climbed into one of the seats. I sat there and pictured you next to me. You, looking into my eyes and telling me how beautiful I looked. That’s what I kept picturing in my head. Zack climbed over the fence minutes later. He made his way in to sit next to me. My hands were on the seat bar railing. He rested his right hand on mine.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked.
“A lot,” I said.
“Anything you feel like talking about?”
I nodded. Nothing I wanted him to find out. I wasn’t trying to hide anything; he just didn’t need to know.
“Well, if you ever need to talk about anything, you know I’ll always be here for you to talk to.”
He put his arm around me and brought me closer to him, causing me to crank my head to the left and lay on his shoulder.
“Thanks,” I said.
With that, realizing how absolutely amazing Zack was, and how absolutely amazing you were, I started to cry. Not too noticeably though because I didn’t want him to think anything was wrong, but a couple of good tears came out. And it felt good. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. I was completely surprised nothing happened during that earthquake we just had either. But of course, like all good books and movies, it started to rain. Typical.
“Ah s***, it’s raining,” Zack mentioned the obvious.
“Yeah. So let’s stay here,” I said between sniffles.
“Are you crying, Payton?” he asked.
I nodded. “No.”
He pulled me away slightly and looked into my watery eyes.
“Yes you are! Why are you crying?”
I couldn’t help it. Damn.
“A lot Zack. But I really don’t want to talk about it, please.”
He didn’t say anything more. Instead, he brought me closer to him again, kissed the top of my head, lifted himself out of the seat and put his hand out for me. I took it and pushed myself up and out of the seat. We both hopped back over the fence, very carefully so we wouldn’t slip. We walked back to the car with his arm around my neck and I was cradled all next to him. Maybe this was what true friends were for.