“What took you so long?”
“I couldn’t find my trunks,” he replied.
“Geez, you could’ve worn something else.”
“Give it a rest, DeLanna.”
“Well, hurry up. I wanna get there before it gets too crowded,” I snapped at my brother.
I quickly walked ahead of him while he slipped his runners on his bare feet. It was only nine in the morning yet the sun was already beating down on my bare arms. I scolded myself for not lathering sunscreen on before heading out to the beach as Jerry and I trudged along the narrow path towards the shore. I wish I hadn’t brought such a heavy load of books. The sun was really taking a toll on me. I looked over my shoulder and gave my brother a sign to indicate that we were almost there.
With a newfound energy, Jerry ran all the way there while I rummaged my backpack for the beach towel I brought along. I spread it out on the warm sand and took out the book I had been reading yesterday. I flopped down on my stomach and made myself comfortable, using my backpack as a pillow. While I searched for the page number I was on, my brother was already making a big noise, hollering for me to join him in the water. I ignored him and started reading. After about half an hour, I was so deeply absorbed in my book that I didn’t notice the red Frisbee that landed at my side.
A deep, friendly voice brought me out of my trance and startled me so much that I gave a small shriek and dropped my book.
“Hey, sorry about that,” the voice apologized.
It was then that I looked up and found myself staring, open-mouthed, at the guy I had seen several times before.
He smiled and said, “My name’s Josh. I’ve seen you around.”
A little voice inside my head was telling me to say something back. Following its advice, I racked my brain for something to say. Instead a weird grunting sound made its way from my throat and escaped my lips. The smile left Josh’s tanned face.
“Are you okay?” Concern filled his voice.
My throat released another grunt, before I could stop it.
I felt my ears burning and the flush creeping up my neck.
“Josh! We’re leaving!” I heard a man’s voice shout.
Josh turned back to me and I struggled to say something more than the sound of a pig letting out air.
“So I’ll be seeing you around?” Josh asked with a smile.
Against my will, I grunted again. This time I grunted so loudly that a couple of people nearby turned and looked at me. I wished more than anything in the world that I could just sink down into the sand.
Josh gave me a puzzled look, then turned and ran to catch up to his dad.
When I was sure that he was out of sight, I let out a low moan and buried my face in my backpack.
“Who was that?” Jerry questioned a couple minutes later.
“Who was who?” I asked casually, although my voice was etched with nervousness.
“The guy who threw that Frisbee and talked to you,” he replied as he bit into an apple.
“Oh. Uh, I don’t know. Some guy.”
I was grateful when he dismissed the subject and asked for a sandwich.
“In my backpack. Front pocket. Get me one too.”
After our lunch, we packed up and headed home. I spent the whole walk pondering about what a fool I had made out of myself in front of Josh. What happened? I kept asking myself over and over again. I spent the rest of the day thinking about that morning. I couldn’t even focus on finishing my book. Finally, I fell into a fitful sleep.
My dreams were full of red Frisbees, grunts and Josh. I woke up with the sunlight streaming through my open window. I yawned and lazily made my way to the smell of pancakes and bacon. My mother was in the kitchen cooking up a storm. I said good morning, and went back to my room. I was deciding on whether to wear my halter-top with a pair of cut-offs or a cargo skirt, when I heard a knock on my door.
“Come in.” I knew it was one of my parents, because Jerry never bothered to knock. He would just barge in like he owned the place.
It was Dave.
“Hey, what are your plans for the day?”
“Good,” he said, grinning. “I wanted to take you and Jerry in town today. I saw something there yesterday that you might like.”
“Sure. Is mom coming?”
“No, she’s trying to catch up to a deadline. She’s gonna be on her computer the whole day.”
My mom is a fashion magazine editor. I’ve always thought that her job was fun except that it required a lot of her time. Dave and I agreed on leaving right after breakfast and I settled on the white jean cut-offs with my blue halter-top. I hurried to the bathroom and quickly took a shower, where I didn’t get myself any cleaner, but I got myself wet.
The stores in town were small and cramped closely beside each other. I glanced at Dave and tried to read his expression. During the whole drive, stared at me so deeply the whole time that I couldn’t meet his gaze. I was more comfortable when we got back to chatting. When I told him I had to go, he offered to walk me home, throwing in an offer to carry my guitar for me. I just smiled and started walking, hoping he would get the idea that I accepted. My thin, spaghetti-strapped, lavender dress wrapped around my body as a gust of warm wind blew my shoulder-length, strawberry blonde hair back. Josh fell in step beside me, and I couldn’t help but notice his lean, muscular body. Standing beside him, I could look him straight in the eye. When we reached my house, we stood awkwardly for a minute or two, shyly looking at each other.
“I had a great time, DeLanna,” he finally said.
“Me too,” I replied with a smile.
“Um, so you wanna get together again tomorrow?”
“Sure,” I said, suddenly feeling nervous.
He put his hand on my cheek then, said goodnight, and was gone before I could reply. He left me still standing in front of my house, my hand on my cheek, the spot tingling at his first touch. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, watching him walk down the street until he was out of sight.
The night went by in a blur and so did the rest of the summer. Endless Summer Nights