I dig my toes deep into the sand, while waiting for my best friend, Manny Lopez, to throw the football. I'd be blind in this summer heat if it wasn't for the aviators that my girlfriend Angela Enriquez bought me for my birthday, and I silently await her arrival.
Pueblo beach is quiet this early in the morning, around nine or ten, because the locals want to wait for the lunch sun to cool down, but there are still a few tourists who linger under large beach umbrellas and funny, expensive sun hats. I quickly pass my fingers through my shaggy, dark curly hair so that it doesn't block my eyesight and when Manny leans back to throw the football high into the air, my knees bend with the anticipation.
Seagull cries intermingle with the sound of the lapping shore and children's curious questions. Finally, Manny sends the football soaring through the air towards me and I run back and leap up at the right time and before landing on my side, the ball lands securely in my hand. Manny's loud laughter reaches me and a smile cracks on my face, summers like these can never be replaced.
"Nice landing," Manny yells, waiting for me to pass him the ball. "I give it an eight-point-five, just because you didn't properly stick it."
I throw him the ball, but not nearly as high or as far as he'd thrown it. Manny is the quarterback for Marazul High School, I'd be insane to ever compare my arm to his. His bright blond hair is short compared to mine, but it glows like a halo under the morning sun. His tan is slightly lighter than mine, since he doesn't jog like I do sometimes in the middle of the day, but he and I are a team in this town. For us, being popular isn't about getting girls and being reckless, it's about having each others' backs and doing the sports we live for.
"Shut it," I yell back, watching as he easily catches the ball. "You know that was a high throw."
"Aha," he says, aiming for another pass. "Says the six-foot-tall kid."
I shake my head and he passes me the ball once more. I'm so preoccupied trying not to fall again, that when Angela sneaks up behind me I nearly jump. I started dating Angela last year, right before junior year. The way her long black hair always hung past her shoulder blades and her questioning blue eyes had always intrigued me. It was Manny and my other friends who finally encouraged me to talk to her, since she was the object of many fantasies.
Her Latin curves sway as she moves closer to give me a kiss and I put a finger up behind me, signalling to Manny to wait one moment.
"Aw," Manny laughs, "Come on Angela, we're being men over here."
Angela pulls away and giggles. "I'll be over there tanning with Laura and Melody, okay?"
I nod. "Catch you soon, babe."
I watch her run back to her blond and red-headed best friends before turning back to Manny, who is now laying down on the sand, the football acting as his pillow.
"Tired?" I ask, plopping down on the sand beside him.
"Nah," he murmurs, putting his trucker hat over his face. "Just need to tan for a bit."
I pick up some sand and enjoy the feeling of it passing through my fingers, a habit I'd always done. "You're a loser, you know that?"
Manny laughs. "Right, but you're my co-loser since you're always around me."
I can't help but laugh and I look ahead over the shoreline and out to the ocean, where the water is a mix of dark and light blues, highlighting sandbanks and deep spots.
"This summer is going to be amazing," Manny says. "You better be prepared."
I barely hear him as I watch a seagull land by the water, picking up a stray shell. "Yeah," I say quietly. "It will definitely be one for the books."