Letting go | Teen Ink

Letting go

March 12, 2013
By Claire Rowan BRONZE, Covington, Louisiana
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Claire Rowan BRONZE, Covington, Louisiana
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Colby's POV

The sun burned so bright in my eyes and an ache began to creep up in my cheeks. I could barely make out the silhouette of my mom squinting through the lens of an old camera.

"One...Two...Three!" There was a loud click followed by a series of other mechanical sounds. Just like clockwork work the aching smiles vanished and tense arms relaxed.

"Promise me by the time I come home you'll have a new camera," West chuckled. "A digital one so you can actually look at the pictures after you take them." He was trying to lighten the mood, but we all knew West didn't handle goodbyes very well.

"Alright!" My dad said loudly clapping his hands together, "That's the last of the film so we better get on our way before the flight to California leaves and thats with or without you." Then he proceeded to grab West's bags and walk back down the dock to the car. It was a two hour drive to the airport so my mom and I weren't tagging along to give my dad and West some more time to say goodbye, but right now it was my turn.

I looked out to the bay and felt warm summer wind brush my cheeks. White wispy clouds stretched out in the immense blue sky above me and underneath me little waves wobbled gleefully lapping against the pier. Be strong. I told myself. I had to be strong for him. No matter how hard it was to watch someone leave and know they might not return I couldn't let him see how hurt I was. It would just make it harder for him. That's when I felt his big arm pull me into one last goodbye hug. His uniform felt so scratchy against me cheek.

When West told he decided to join the Marines part of my shut down and I honestly didn't think he was going to go through with it. I mean this was my brother we were talking about, West Sounder who defined the meaning of "beach bum." The only time he wasn't surfing was when he was eating or sleeping and then out of no where my life felt upside down.

"I'm gonna miss ya kiddo," his said into my hair. I could hear the sadness in his voice and looked at him. This wasn't my brother. This was a stranger. West would never do anything like this. I missed the old him. I missed his shaggy blonde hair now replaced by a fresh buzz cut that made his ears to big. I missed the rosiness of his sunburned cheeks and wrinkles by his eyes from smiling so much but it was all gone and in its place was a serious face masking his hurt. "Please don't ask me why again. You'll understand one day Colby, I promise. I wish I could have talked to you more before this but-" A loud honk interrupted him signaling that it was time to go. He grabbed both my shoulders looked into my eyes and said, "I love ya squirt" then planted a quick peck on my forehead before giving my mom and hug and dashing across the yard to the car. He turned a flashed us a big toothy smile before ducking in the car and pulling back down the driveway.

Colby's POV

I woke up to hear my mom singing as she walked upstairs to my room.

"Wake up Colby!" she cooed while dropping my laundry basket at the foot of my bed. I stretched out across bed emerging from cave of pillows and fluffy white comforter. My mom continued to collect my dirty laundry while humming a Jack Johnson song and crossed my room and opened the doors to my little balcony letting the fresh bay breeze in.

"Mommmm..." I said as I was yawning, "Why are you waking me up so early?" I looked toward her squinting my eyes from the morning light streaming in.

"Because you're father left and told me to make sure you didn't sleep til noon," she said sitting at the foot of my bed.

"Ughh seriously?" I fell forward onto my covers exhausted. "Why did he leave without me?"

"He had to go meet some old friends but wants you to be at the wharf by nine." she said stroking my hair. Even though my mom tends to get on my nerves sometimes, I still love her so much. She is so compassionate, I think that's partially because of West but also because I'm the youngest and she feels the need to spoil me.

"Can you bring me pleaseeeee..." I said looking up at her and batting my eyelashes.

"You know that cute thing doesn't work when your hair looks like that." She smirked and picked up the laundry basket then proceeded down the stairs. "You can walk. It's not that far," she called back to me.

I forced my self out of my sanctuary of coziness and into the bathroom. Wow she was right, my hair was a mess. Blonde kinky hairs poking out of my long braid everywhere. I got ready for the day and assessed myself in the mirror. I stared at my usual outfit of an loose blue tank top and some old blue jean shorts with my same old black bandeau bathing suit underneath. I undid my messy braid and let my hair fall, actually it didn't look as bad I thought it would I kind of liked the beachy waves it created in my hair. After slipping on my flip flops I ran down stairs for breakfast.

"So who are dad's old friends he had to ditch me for this morning?" I asked while stuffing my mouth with some mango. Then I saw a guilty look come across my mom's face.

"Well honey the Wallaces are sailing to the Keys and decided to stop by on their way for a night or two," she said without looking in my eyes. I nearly choked on my mango.

"Oh lord please tell me you did not just say the Wallaces..." I managed to croak out after forcing myself to swallow the juicy fruit. "Please please please tell me you said someone else." I said already feeling a headache coming on at the thought of the Wallaces returning, especially Noah.

"Albert is your fathers best friend and we haven't seen him in five years! I know you and Noah have had your differences but if you can't manage to spend two days with him then that's just sad." She said looking at me very sternly.

"Fine jeez I'll behave but you could have given me more of a warning." I heaved out with a heavy sigh. My mom raised an eyebrow at me, "I promise okay? You're right it's been forever, he could have changed you never know." I hoped I sounded convincing because I knew even though it's been years Noah Wallace has not changed at all. I finished off my breakfast and headed out the door.

While the hot sun beamed down on my head I made my way to the wharf dreading every step. Now I might seem like I'm being unreasonable. You must be thinking how can two days with the guy be that bad? Well trust me within a week one summer he managed to destroy a pier and break my arm in the process. We have never gotten along. He's hated me and I've hated him for as long as I can remember. That's how it has always been and I really don't feel like putting up with his nonsense.

Stay calm Colby. Whatever you do, don't strangle him. I told myself while I approached the wharf with my loud clacking flip flops already annoyed with him when he wasn't anywhere near me. I walked towards our pier and braced myself for the awkward greeting but no one was there. Maybe he couldn't make it! I hoped. I walked down the end of the dock and stood there soaking up the sun enjoying my last few moments of peace before the next two days. My moment of peace was interrupted by the sounds of clanging and shouting. I started to turn around and then-

BAM! I literally didn't know what hit me. Next thing I knew I was plunging into the dark waters of the bay. Suddenly the black water enclosed all around me I couldn't see anything. I just panicked, thrashing around and struggling to for air. I tried kicking my way back to the surface but my ankle was trapped. I could feel some sort of metal scratching deep cuts unto my skin with every kick. I bent down to free my leg but it was no use I was running out of air fast. I winced underwater as my lungs began to ache more and more. I would never take breathing for granted again.

I let go. Gave up. I quit struggling and just let the water take me. I felt lucid and weightless and then I thought of West. I saw his face, that last smile he gave before pulling down the driveway and out of my life completely. Gone, just like I would be after the water claimed me. I felt all the pain come rushing back and let a scream out while the remaining air escaped my lungs.

Suddenly I felt arms around me. They struggled to pull me to the surface and then I felt them free my ankle. Next thing I knew we burst out of the dark water, bright sunlight hit me as hard as the water had. I still couldn't breathe and began choking water. I could feel a searing pain in my ankle. Whoever rescued me was carrying me to the shore under the pier. I fell onto the soft sand and began choking up water, finally getting air into my lungs.

"Oh jeez, oh jeez this isn't good," a deep rugged voice came from behind me and then I fell light fingers over my ankle. I winced at even the lightest touch.

"Ouch!" I rolled over onto my back and began to sit up so I could see how bad it was but the felt strong hands pushing my shoulders back down.

"No no no don't look at it. It'll only make it worse if you see it." I tried to get a good look at my rescuer but he was preoccupied bending over my foot and all I could make out was a tan muscular back. "Don't worry it's not as bad as I thought it was. There is just a lot of blood."

"Oh great..." I sat back exasperated. Everything was dizzy. I heard him chuckle and then saw his face come into focus over mine. Sea green eyes bright as the ocean looked worriedly into mine. Who was this guy? An angel or something? He literally looked like a God. Tan perfectly sculpted muscles, caramel colored hair with hints of blonde, and an amazing jawline. I stared up at him in awe.

"Let's get you to the life guard station. Do you think you can walk?" he asked starting to get up.

"Umm.. Lemme see," I started sitting up got one glance of my blood covered ankle and started feeling weak again, "I really don't think so. Just go get the life guard and tell him to come down here"

"And leave you all alone bleeding underneath a dock? No way," he said almost laughing. "Come on, I got you."

Then he proceeded to scoop me up so gently and easily. We made our way to the stairs and a group of tourists greeted us with such concerned faces asking me if I was okay and apologizing. I had no clue what for but I just smiled weakly.

"Wait how did I fall in the water?" I asked once we were a good distance away.

"Some goofy guy from Wisconsin didn't secure the mast to his sailboat and it swooped down and knocked you into the water. Everyone panicked when you didn't resurface so I dove in to help and turns out you got your foot stuck in some old crab trap caught on the bottom of the bay."

"Oh well I forgot to thank you for saving my life," I would be dead right now if it wasn't for him, "really, I thought I was going to die!"

"Aww it's no problem I couldn't just let a pretty little thing like you drown," he said with a big smile that reminded me a lot of someone but I couldn't figure out who. His smiled widened when he saw me blush.

Once we got to the lifeguard station we realized it was empty so set me down on bench and just went inside the little hut and grabbed a first aid kit. I examined my wounds which weren't as deep as I though they'd be but I could barely move my ankle maybe I sprained it.

"Alright let's get you taken care of!" He said bending down he picked up my foot so gently and placed it on his knee. He wiped off the blood, applied some Neosporin, put a few band aids over the deeper cuts.

"So are you from around here?" I asked trying to prevent the awkward silence while he was wrapping my ankle with an Ace bandage. He stop and looked at me blankly with a confused expression on his face. "Collie bay I mean. I've just lived here my whole life and never seen you before which is sort of weird because I know almost everyone." His eyebrows furrowed a little and then smiled.

"No I actually just got here today," He looked back down and finished fastening the bandage. Three little beeps came from the black watch around his wrist. "Wow it's already ten."

"Its ten! Already?" I said standing up too fast and almost falling completely forgetting about my ankle. "Oh no no no. I have to go. I'm late!"

"Woah woah easy there Cinderella what are you late for?" he said laughing as he caught me mid fall.

"Ughh I had to meet my dad at our dock at nine thirty but he's probably left without me," I sighed sitting back down on the bench. "His friend and his son are in town and we were going to take them out sailing with us. Actually now that I think about it I really don't mind to much his son is a total jerk I was dreading seeing him but now I might not have too." He just looked at me with an expression I couldn't read but there was the slightest hint of hurt in it.

"Oh um do you need me to bring you back then?" He said with an almost sad tone.

"No it's too late I know they've left," I sat back and sighed. Goosebumps covered my arms and legs as the chilly breeze from the bay blew over us.

"Cold?" He asked smiling. "How about we go get some coffee or something?"

"That sounds perfect." I didn't even mind that my dad left me anymore.

"Really?" He asked raising his eyebrows.

"Yeah, of course. Why wouldn't I want to?"

"Well you don't even know my name." He said with an almost sarcastic tone. I felt like he was implying that I did know his name. Had we met before? No there's no way. I would have remembered him if we ever met.

"Oh you're right well you saved my life! I owe you a cup of coffee, don't worry it's on me." I laughed well actually I giggled. Wow I've never acted like this before. Normally I see these fake tan and blonde girls in town for spring break giggling and falling all over the locals and shake my head at their ridiculous behavior but I understand. I couldn't help this giddy feeling he gave me. "And my name is Colby in case you were wondering."

"Well its very nice to meet you Colby, I'm-" he paused looking at me.

"You're?" I said leaning forward.

"Oh sorry my name is Baylor."

"It's very nice to meet you Baylor." I smiled, for some reason he seemed vaguely familiar...

Noah's POV

She was like an angel. I had never seen anyone more beautiful in my life. I stopped dead in my tracks the moment I laid my eyes on her. Her beauty was almost paralyzing. I totally forgot about our hatred for each other and how five minutes ago I was dreading seeing her. The only thing that mattered to me now was fixing things between us.

Right as I was about to call out her name time stopped and began to move in slow motion. A reckless tourist released the mast of his sail boat. It swung down out of no where and hit her on the side probably knocking the wind out of her and that's when she tumbled over the side of the pier.

"Colby!" My voice cried out hoarse and desperate. I sprinted to the end of the dock. Frantically looking over the edge, I saw white bubbles rolling and emerging in the dark water but no Colby. I waited for a few seconds or a minute I really don't know every second felt like an hour. She knows how to swim this isn't right, I thought to myself.

At that moment every fiber in my being took over. My body had a mind of its own and next thing I knew I was diving into the dark waters of the bay. I couldn't see anything and couldn't find her then I heard a high pitched noise through the water and recognized her scream. My arms found her and she started to struggle. She wasn't fighting me though she was gesturing to her foot. I freed her ankle and we made our ascent to the surface.

"West!" She gasped in between coughing. West. The name hit me like a ton of bricks. I hadn't forgotten about him, in fact I thought about him almost everyday when I went sailing.

"Nothing compares to this man," West said one day out on the boat. We were coming in just as the sun was setting over the bay. What I would give just to go sailing with him one more time... He was like a brother to me, the big brother I never had. I guess that's one of the reasons I hated Colby so much. No matter how close me and West were, she was his little sister and they would always have that bond that I would never understand and I was really jealous of that. Snapping back to the most important part of the story...

"So are you from around here?" She asked after I rescued her and I was helping bandage her ankle. I thought she was kidding at first but then I just looked at her and realized she wasn't. Does she not know who I am? Have I honestly changed that much? I guess I have, no more braces and the last time I saw her I was sort of going through I chubby stage not mention the acne and glasses too.

Oh this was going to be good, I thought. She will realize its me any second now but that's the thing, she didn't.

When she said, "Actually now that I think about it I really don't mind to much his son is a total jerk I was dreading seeing him but now I might not have too." And I saw that optimism and hope in her eyes that she wasn't going to see me well I didn't have the strength to tell her the truth. So when she asked me my name I lied. Baylor was the quickest name I could come up with I guess it was because we were on a bay.

What have I gotten myself into? I thought while backing out of her driveway after walking her home. I made my way back to the wharf. I had to ask Evan what to do he would help me I'm sure his been in a situation like this before.

I ran towards the run down little hut with the big blue and white sign that read: Nani's Rentals. I smirked when I saw Evan asleep. I rang the bell and he sprang up dazed and confused.

"Oh jeez man! Don't you know to let your bros sleep in peace," he said under his breath as he laid his head back down.

"Sorry but I got a pretty big problem I need some help with." I said anxiously running a hand through my hair.

"I got some problems too but you don't see me disturbing you in the middle of a blissful nap," He mumbled.

"Problems? Ha! Whose girlfriend was it this time?"

"The quarterback of that private school up the road but that's not important," he huffed, "just get on with your news."

"Well you know Colby right?" I started but then he interrupted.

"I knew it! I knew you would get here and see how hot she's gotten and now you want some but she still hates you," he laughed.

"Shut up man. It's more than that though," I was starting to get annoyed with Evan's sarcasm.

"Fine. Fine. What happened?"
I told him everything that happened and paused waiting for some advice but the only response I got was a burst of laughter, "Come on man! I need your help!"

"Okay, okay chill out," he said between his laughter, "Well I'm sure she would understand but do you think she'd still hate you if she knew you were you?"

"I saved her life," I sighed,"maybe she could look past the years of hating each other right?"

"Or maybe she'll hate you even more for lying to her," he shrugged.

"Oh great... What am I supposed to do?" I walked inside and sat on one of the stools.

"Look it's simple," I could see a scheme forming in his eyes,"You're only in town for 3 days right? Just be Baylor for a couple days, have some fun while you can and move on."

"I can't do that. Would if we come back next summer? Then she would really hate me. That's just taking advantage of her," I looked out the shutters at the bay, "I have to tell her."

"Alright man your choice not mine. I gotta get back to work though."

"Yeah by work you mean sleeping." I laughed and headed back down to our sailboat. That's what I needed a good day out on the bay to think things through.

Colby POV

I heard a honk from the driveway and ran downstairs to Leah's car. I couldn't wait to tell her all about Baylor and what happened. We were going shopping to find me a new outfit for tonight. Baylor asked me to meet him at the wharf later tonight so we could hang out before he left in a few days and he told me to dress nice.

"Well hey there," she said looking at me smiling suspiciously, "Look at you all smiles and giddy! You totally met a guy!" She knew me so well. I started laughing and told her everything on our way.

Later sitting in my bathroom Leah started helping get ready for tonight. She is my best friend we are just alike in so many ways but complete opposites in other ways. She loves make up, clothes, and boys while I never really showed much interest in that stuff. We have been inseparable since the moment we met in third grade. Leah had beautiful long brown hair and huge brown eyes and all the guys at school wanted to date her. I'm used to being the friend of the prettiest girl in our grade. Tonight was different though, I was the one a guy noticed or well actually saved but still he seems like he really likes me.

"All done!" She said looking at my face "Oh my gosh you look amazing! I really am a miracle worker," she announced proudly crossing her arms after doing my hair and make up.

"Shut up I'm not that bad!" I laughed.

"Oh please Colby, I don't think I've ever seen you wear more than one little coat of mascara, but now look at you," she said turning me around towards the mirror. My jaw dropped. Leah really was a miracle worker. I barely recognized myself. She knew I don't like heavy make up so even though she only used light colors for my eyes it made them look so much bigger. My long blonde hair was now in big loose curls and looked stunning.

"Wow this Baylor guy is going to die when he sees you!" She said, "Now let's get you dressed you don't want to be late."

I slipped on the simple white sundress we bought and paired it with a long gold necklace with a sea glass pendent on the end that was the same color as my eyes. Leah held up a pair of wedges but I shook my head and put on a pair of old leather gladiator style sandals. They looked a little weird over my ankle covered in bandaids. I looked in the mirror one last time before heading to the wharf where I was meeting Baylor.

He was leaning against a post at the end of the pier looking out to the bay. He looked pretty nice in light blue button down and some khakis. When he heard me approaching he turned and smiled widely then a nervous look came over his face.

"Wow you look beautiful," he said after clearing his throat.

"Thank you," I tried to say calmly but butterflies were going crazy in my stomach, "You clean up nice too."

"Well we better get on our way. I have a surprise for you," he's aid turning and starting to step down onto a small boat. I hesitated but he helped me. Wow what a gentleman I thought to myself.

We headed into the sunset the warm summer air felt nice through hair I didn't even care if got messed up. Everything felt so right. Ever since West passed away I felt sort of lost like I've been looking for where I belong but right now I am exactly where I should be. The bay melted into the gulf and we were headed in a familiar direction. I got a little nervous then. We were going towards our old beach. It was a huge part of the beach totally off limits for the protection of the dunes and you could only get to it by boat. Only a few locals knew about it and it was West's favorite surfing spot. We used to go there almost everyday but not since he died.

When it came into view and I knew that's where were headed I whipped my head around and asked,"How do you know about this place?"

"Some old friends showed me a long time ago," he said with almost a pained look on his face like I had accused him of something.

"Sorry it's just this is a strictly local spot and I didn't think anyone else knew about it," I sighed looking at the perfect beach we were approaching,"I haven't been here in years."

"Oh look if its bad to be here we could just go to the public beach or somewhere else," He said.

"No actually I love this place," I said as he started anchoring the boat in the shallows. I stared anxiously waiting to get out on the soft sand. I didn't realize how much I missed this place. The rolling dunes covered in bending sea oats with the perfect back drop of pink melting into orange and the sun sinking behind the horizon. It was thrilling being here again. He helped me get out and we started walking down the beach. Even the sand was softer here as it squished through my toes.

"Why haven't you come here in so long?" Baylor asked looking into the sunset he sighed, "It's so beautiful."

"I have just had a lot of memories here," normally I would feel totally uncomfortable even saying West's name but I am still so excited off the adrenaline of being here I feel like I could tell Baylor anything,"some painful ones." He stopped and looked at me.

"I'm sorry we can leave I don't want you to bring back any bad memories for you-"

"No no trust me this is exactly where I want to be!" I said giving him a reassuring smile, "Actually it's crazy that you brought me here. It's used to be one of my favorite places in the whole world. This is perfect." We started walking again and he shoved his hands in his pockets.

"Well you don't have to talk about anything you don't want too."

"No it's fine you should know. My brother, West, used to bring me here almost everyday. We would surf and watch sunsets. Five years ago he died and I haven't had the courage to come back, but I had to be brave for my parents. I couldn't tell them how hurt I was and that was really hard. I miss him so much. I've actually never told anyone. People would ask how I felt and I would lie. You have no idea how much of a relief it is to tell someone how I really feel." I looked at Baylor, "You actually remind me a lot of him. He would like you a lot." I smiled I had finally opened up after years of being strong I was able to tell someone. It's true, West would love Baylor. I could see them being best friends. I felt little bit of jealousy which was silly but then...

I realized it the moment he stopped walking again. He just stood there looking ahead at me. He looked like he was glowing from the light of the sunset hitting his face. His expression pained. Noah. Baylor was Noah. Noah was Baylor. I started to open my mouth when he marched over to me and put his hands on my shoulder. He knew I figured it out.

"Please, before you say anything just hear me out," he said looking into my eyes with his gorgeous sea green ones,"when we arrived I was expecting the worst three days of my life. I was dreading it. Dreading seeing you. I knew I would hate every minute of it-"

"This really isn't helping."

"Let me finish. Then I saw you for what seemed like the first time. Colby the moment I looked at you I forgot all about my hatred for you. You are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life and all I want to do is make things right but then you didn't recognize me and I panicked. I made a really stupid decision and I was going to tell you tonight I promise." He heaved a sigh,"I'm so sorry." He dropped his hands back into his pockets. He meant all of it I know he did.

"Noah," I said sternly. He looked up terrified. I tried so hard not to laugh,"I have one thing to say to you."


"Please stay all summer!" I started laughing and saw a huge smile break across his face he rushed over and hugged me.

"You're not mad?"

"Of course not! Oh and I take back everything I said about you being a jerk on the pier.

"This is going to be the best summer ever."
He leaned in and kissed me. Butterflies went crazy in my stomach and in that moment I knew this really was going to be the best summer ever.

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This book has 1 comment.

Climber59 said...
on Apr. 7 2013 at 10:17 pm
Love it I want to know what happens next