Instead of heading back to my house, I turn in the direction of the beach again, but away from the barbecue. I just need to be alone. I need to process this.
The night is a bit cooler than the day, but it's still hot. I can feel the sand cooling under my bare feet, flip-flops swinging from my hand, as I head down to the shore line. The distant sound of the music from the barbecue drifts over to where I am, but the loud crashing of the waves on the shoreline nearly blocks the noise out.
I should have expected this to happen the moment that Robert told me that she was in town, but my brain was too muddled and my heart was too confused. Is too confused to deal with this. I walk closer to the shore and let the thought of her entrance me. I let my eyes water with anger, resentment; hurt.
"Why are you back?" I whisper soft enough for the sea breeze to take away my breath. My face contorts into a grimace of pain as I remember finding no one at her house. Not seeing her toys out on the lawn. Not hearing her laugh or cry for so many years. It burns me to think about the way she looked at me after I kissed her. "WHY?" I yell suddenly, letting out all my frustration and throwing one of my sandals into the water.
My breath is heavy with anger as I watch the sandal floating away with my pain. I only wish it would take away all of it. I sigh and look down at my bare feet. Shaking my head, I take off my t-shirt and shorts, staying in the swimming trunks I always wear under my clothes. I look around to see if anyone has followed me here and when I see no one, I run into the water.
The smooth, salty water burns my eyes at first but after years of swimming in this same ocean, my eyes quickly adjust. There are enough lights from the large street lamps that were installed on the beach a long time ago, so I can easily make out the flip-flop a few feet in front of me. I swim out further, trying to ignore the idea of things lurking in the water beneath me. Finally, my hand reaches the flip-flop and I pause for a moment, simply listening to the sound of the water and every teenager in Pueblo at the barbecue.
With a decided sigh I start to swim back, making sure that the flip-flop is still in my hand. I breathe another sigh when my feet finally touch the ground and I walk steadily out of the water. I drop the stupid flip-flop on the sand beside my clothes and pass my fingers through my wet hair, pushing it back off my forehead. Maybe it's time for a haircut.
"I knew you were spontaneous," a voice says from somewhere in the shadows. It is soft and timid; almost weary. "But I didn't think you would do such a stupid thing."
"Who's there?" I cry out, grabbing my things in a hurry. I'm not in the mood to talk to anyone.
A sigh. "I'm sorry I left you," her voice comes out quickly, but I understand her. I always have. "It's really complicated."
"Who are you?" I yell out, though I already know who it is. "I'm not in the mood for jokes right now."
Alycia walks out from where she was standing, her long blond hair is in a side ponytail, resting on her right shoulder. Her face is concerned and her hands are balled up into fists at her sides. She is barefoot too and I wonder how long she's been standing there for. "It's me."
"Aly...Alycia," I stutter.
"Hey Dyl," she says sadly.
I drop my clothes and she flinches. We both wait to see what happens next. We both wait to see who makes the first move.
She watches me closely and her eyes roam over me, as if taking in every inch, trying to remember and memorize me all over again. I do the same, seeing that she no longer is flat-chested. She has no more freckles, though they were replaced with creamy clear skin. Her lips are fuller than before and they are puckered into the same worried pout she wore back when we were kids. Her figure is petite and I think that she is more beautiful than I ever thought she would be.
I take a step forward and she watches me patiently.
Then I'm running towards her, covering the short distance between us. "I'm so sorry," she is saying by the time I reach her. I shake my head and grab her waist. "I had to, I had to go with my mom."
"You can explain it all later," I say quietly, pulling her into a deep hug. She is so tiny, much tinier than I remember her being, but I still hold on to her tightly. She puts her small hands on my chest and I pull back slightly, looking down at the same green eyes that once studied me so severely.
"I will," she says, nodding to herself. "I promise."
"Good," I respond. "How did you know I was here?"
She smiles up at me. "Dyl, you doofus," my heart burns as she says these words, "even if I've been away for so long, I still know your secret places."
And then I kiss her, pulling her into the world that I wanted to show her the day that we first kissed back when we were ten.