Bright sunshine warms my face as I breathe in the fresh sea air. I put my arm around Dave and he wriggles and looks at me. I look back. The seconds tick along like lifetimes. Silently. I tighten my embrace and these moments feel somehow perfect.
I breathe deeply and stare out at the sea. Scratch my chin and then look at him. I focus on the big sparkling, spheres of his eyes. The fiery flame of passion burns in them. A hunger. I feel it too. A desperate longing for intimacy. I smile. He returns it and I bask in the rays of his warm glow.
We are standing, staring at the gorgeous scene below and before us. A sailing ship ambles across the horizon. People are meandering below us. And the clean sand seems to beckon us with the promise of that beautiful idleness that only the beach can bring.
The view brings to mind memories of happy holidays. I think about my parents. About the special bond I had with them. And feel blessed fate made me their son. My sister Jane comes to mind too. I picture her kind smile and questioning eyes. I feel a warm moment of joy and think some more. About my brother. And the many hours of football that stretched the whole summers day. Stretched until the light dimmed and we could barely see each other. I think and smile.
We say nothing. Dave and I. Comfortable in our silence. A seagull flutters past us. It flaps its wings and ascends into the heavens. I follow it as it soars, climbing into the freedom of the skies. It becomes a small dot as it darts of into the distance. I wonder what it must be like to be so free.
I turn and gaze at him again. He’s looking into the distance. I stare at his striking features. Notice the familiar wrinkle of his nose. The flecks of grey in his goatee that seem to sparkle in the light. His long hair cascading around his shoulders and blowing gently in the breeze. He sighs. And absently pushes strands from out of his face and behind his ear. He has a furrowed brow and a look of consternation on his face.
I recall the time his wife confronted us. Her face twisted and contorted into ugly spiteful shapes. She spoke with venom that wounded him deeply. She bellowed and sobbed as her fists banged the table. We responded with awkward silence. She began to physically shake and I kept expecting her to spring forward and scratch his eyes out. To her he was a doting husband. And always should be.
I keep looking at him, lean in and kiss his creased forehead. He smiles sweetly. Instantly I forgive him for not having the strength to make a new life with me. Forgive him for everything.
A large fluffy dog catches my eye. He’s running in and out of the water. Boldly. In the moment. Full of joy. He jumps and barks as if announcing his happiness to the world. I admire his spirit. I find I am silently cheering for the dog. I cheer and almost well up.
There are soft, uncertain footsteps. I turn around. It’s the elderly man from next door shuffling along with his stick. He adjusts his thick spectacles and throws me a poisonous look. I respond with a smile as he theatrically looks away. He shuffles on tugging at his unkempt beard. I turn back. It has not ruined the moment. Not this time. He’s still staring at the sea. So I join him and we continue to breathe. And watch. And be.
The sky is clear and cloudless. The sun’s light hits my squinting eyes, the bright rays warm me. I smile and let the natural beauty wash over me, the clean air and brilliant light cleansing me.
We carry on drinking in the scene. Gazing at different shades of blue. The tiny boats drifting along, the waves washing up to the shore. And I wonder if we can stand here forever.
I turn my head and am lost in those eyes as deep as the ocean. He stares into mine. I feel our connection. Real and intense. We continue to look. Sharing moments of sheer joy. Of gladness that we are here and that we are together. But then it fades away. And we are left searching ourselves for that enchantment, not only with each other, but with life itself. We nod in unison. I put my hand in his. He grips tightly, smiles and we both step of the edge off the cliff.
Fictional story by 30 year old. Writing flash fiction for a year with limited success. Thanks to Alex Hogan for guidance and editing of this piece.