I was walking quietly back towards the back door of the beach house when I heard it. It was a faint sound that fairly mimicked the lapping of the waves, but my heart told me otherwise.
I stopped and turned around until I was facing the fence.
"Alex?" My voice felt hollow, unsure of whether I was insane or not; unsure of whether my heart begged for something that might all ready be gone.
My parents had taken Angela to a beach park for children a few hours away from here and were going to stay the night in a hotel, because some new Pueblo friends had recommended it to them. They had asked me, nearly begged me, to go with them. But they had learned a long time ago to give up before losing the wanting in their hearts for me to say yes. So I had stayed, promising to lock all doors and windows before going to bed.
"Alex?" I repeated when I didn't hear a response the first time. I walked closer to the fence and placed a hand where I could see a slight shadow through one of the many cracks in the wood.
"I'm here." He spoke softly, his voice almost lost in the crashing of the waves. Above us the sky was an antagonizing red; an end to the day and the winds were slightly picking up. Grey clouds swirled the sky like smoke and I heard Alex slightly shift his weight.
"Come over the fence." I could have yelled at him, asked him why he did this to me, but I was just happy that I could hear him again. "Please, just come over."
There was a silence after I spoke so thick that I almost forgot how to breathe, but within seconds his feet landed heavily on the sand in front of me. I immediately looked down, a bit too shy to look him in the face. It was his voice that broke the spell.
"Avery," the way he said my name was pleading, with an emotion that suggested that my name meant a thousand things to him. I looked up and his face had taken the look of a worried frown. "I'm sorry."
Maybe it was his words or the way he spoke my name ironically against what I had been feeling for the last few weeks, but I suddenly felt angry. Having him on my side of the fence made it a lot easier for him to see my anger.
So I slapped him.
I barely paid any attention to the slight stinging of my palm as it collected the memory of my roughness of his face. All I could focus on was the man standing in front of me, accepting my accusing slap without a word, just a simple lowering of his eyes.
"Come on," I said finally after a minute of silence occasionally broken by the now trembling sky and rapid cries of wild waves. He looked up surprised, his eyes unbelieving. "It's going to rain."
Without waiting for him to accept my invitation I turned around and stalked back towards the back door. As I stepped onto the wooden deck I heard his feet following me slowly and in a few more short steps we were both securely inside the beach house.