So, I really want to get some of my other author friends in on this one! I don’t have enough for a short story a week (hence splitting this one up a bit) but I DO have room for guest posts from others if they want to take over my blog and post an excerpt or a short! Please e-mail me if this interests you! rhiannonpaille at gmail dot com.
Now for today’s story! This one will be in three parts, so stay tuned this April for the rest!
THE BOY I NEVER KISSED
copyright Rhiannon Paille 2011
He would have tasted like sun, and sand, and chlorine. He would have been clammy wet, fingertips like prunes and bathing suit sopping. Drops of water would have slid off his hair and down my face, like tears staining my cheeks, foreshadows of what would come. His lips would have grazed along mine, tasting their salty sweetness. I would have been unsure where to put my hands, and they would have ended up on the back of his neck while my body stayed rigid, afraid of letting my bare skin touch his. His hands though, would have been firmly planted on my waist and lower back, but he wouldn’t have pulled me closer. I would have held my breath until the kiss was over, and then I would have kissed him again, but this moment never happened.
Because this boy never kissed me.
I stepped into the shallow waters of the wave pool and headed towards the deep end. The wave pool was shaped like a big fan, and every ten minutes the machines in the back would create waves throughout the still waters. It was between waves and I was watching the crystal clear blue waters shimmering below me as the last of the previous set of waves rippled through them. I was in my black bikini with neon pink, orange and green seams, and I was hoping to find someone to spend the day with.
My family was the boring type, mother with a disability, father and brother with lofty ideas of going on water slides all day. None of them knew how to have the kind of fun I wanted to have, and so I took off the moment we dropped our beach bag on the sand.
The wave pool was crowded with older people in their 20’s and barely anyone I could get to know in an afternoon. I got up to my waist in water and looked around. Bodies littered the wave pool as the machine began to make weird noises from beyond the crowd. Apparently when the water got really deep, nobody wanted to swim. I squeezed between two people and stopped. The water was circling around my chest and almost non existent breasts as I heard the machine drop the first gentle waves into the water. I looked to my right and saw a young girl’s feet kicking back and forth in the deep water. She was in over her head and trying to paddle against the waves. I found her head above water and turned towards her.
“Hey, what’s your name?” I asked loudly.
She turned towards me, her features almost identical to mine. She had frizzy shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes. So did I. “Sarah,” she answered me in a thick British accent. England wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t see her parents around either and so I assumed she was doing what I was doing, taking off on her own.
“Sarah, the water’s too deep! You need to come back here.” Someone with an identically thick British accent called from behind me. They sounded older, but not parental.
Sarah’s face scrunched up into a frown. “I’m not that short!” she called back. She was looking behind me, and I felt the need to turn around but I was actually panicking about who this person was. For one, it was a boy, and for two, I was better with people one on one.
“Who is that?” I asked without turning around.
“Ugh,” Sarah grunted as she continued to paddle. I wanted to tell her that the water was too deep for her and when the big waves came it would be hard to stay afloat in the water. I held my tongue though and began to turn around.
“This is my brother Lee,” Sarah introduced.
At the moment she said his name my eyes met his. He had short dirty blonde hair, a chiselled face that resembled Leonardo DiCaprio and deep blue eyes. He was wearing a simple pair of black trunks and was smiling at me.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hi,” I replied slowly. There were butterflies in my stomach as my heart did jumping jacks for how beautiful this boy was. Of course, another part of me wanted to spend the day with Sarah and wanted his hotness to go away, far away. I didn’t need to have another crush on another boy who wouldn’t have a crush on me.
That happened too many times back home.
“What’s your name?” Lee asked me. He was staring at my frizzy hair and I realized I hadn’t gotten it wet. Before I answered I turned red and ducked under the water. I tilted my head back and swished my hair around and came up out of the water.
“I’m Eden.” It was a lie, but it was a pretty name I wished was mine. My real name was Ethel, but I wasn’t about to tell him that.
Lee made a comment about the hair wrap I had gotten on the way in, and we chit chatted about the water before the bigger waves began and we all began swaying in the water. I tried to keep my balance but it was impossible. I also didn’t have a clear view of where Lee was, so judging his reaction to my clumsiness wasn’t possible. When I finally caught sight of him again Sarah had found shallow water and was standing. She was short for her age. Lee made a crass comment about it, and I smiled. She pouted.
“Do you think Sarah and I could hang out today?” This was my one shot at getting him to go away from me, as even in the first few moments of knowing him things were looking bad for me.
“Yeah, we can all hang out,” Lee replied.
“Do you have to stay with us?” I asked.
Lee cocked an eyebrow at me. I guess he realized how badly I didn’t want to hang out with him. “No, I have to stay with her, my mum told me to watch out for her.”
I was disappointed, but I didn’t show it. “Okay, that’s fine then,” I said quickly. The waves were getting bigger and bigger and I was beginning to slosh around more. We were somewhere in the middle of the seashell, and I wanted out.
“Do you want to go on the slides?” Lee asked as he moved towards the kids area.
“Yeah, that would be good.” I said as he led the way towards the kiddie slide. There was a little girl about two years old standing there completely stark naked. As we passed by her I wrinkled my nose in disgust.
“Why do parents let their kids run around naked?” It was a comment meant for Sarah but she didn’t hear me.
Lee was ascending the stone stairway on the other side of the wave pool. “What? You’ve never seen a naked baby before?”
I think I blushed. I shook my head fervently. “I just don’t think it’s right.” He didn’t respond. Instead he turned right and continued down the stone pathway towards the waterslides. Sarah and I didn’t talk much as we followed him. We did pass by the wave pool again though, and various entrances to the lazy river which circled the park.
“It’s probably easier if we go into the lazy river and continue around to the slides.” Lee said. It was dark where we were. The sandy colored stone steps below our feet were littered with actual sand from the man made beach areas, and sopping wet with water. Alongside the path were tropical shrubs and trees that housed everything in an unnatural shade. I nodded and we descended the few stairs into the lazy river. The current took us as soon as our bodies hit the water, and we spent the next ten minutes fighting through people floating on tubes. Lee kept ducking out of sight every few seconds while Sarah kept lagging behind. Every now and again he would try to fight against the current long enough for me and her to catch up and once we were ahead of him he would race on back. We missed our stop once and continued all the way around the lazy river a second time until we finally found the water slides. I was the first to get out of the water and walk towards the sign that said ‘Family Raft’. This was a wide waterslide that used a huge six seater raft.
“You sure we can go on the family raft? There’s only three of us,” I pointed out as Lee sped ahead of me and stepped in line. Sarah and I followed, and I looked up at the big slide.
“Yeah, it’ll be great. Me and you can be the mom and dad and Sarah can be our kid,” he gave Sarah a smirk as I tried to pretend he didn’t just say that. “You know, because she’s so short,” he clarified.
I smiled and laughed but on the inside the butterflies in my stomach were threatening to explode. I shifted my weight nervously while we inched ahead in line. I really wanted to turn away and leave, but more people came in line behind us and between the thick black metal bars that defined the line and the people both ahead of us and behind us, I was stuck. Instead I crossed my arms and tried not to look at Lee.
When we finally reached the top, we all climbed into the big raft and rode down the big slide. Sarah and I squealed as the raft slid up the higher side of the slide and then back down into the waters flowing along the bottom. We tossed and turned in the raft trying to keep our balance until we reached the bottom. There were attendants there who were receiving the rafts and we all climbed out, our bodies waist deep in the pool.
“Want to go again?” Lee asked as we hopped up the steps and began trailing down the sandy path to the left.
“I think we should try a couple of other slides,” I said boldly. I didn’t want to go on the family raft again for fear of more mom and dad comments.
“Sure,” Lee replied as he took off down the path and led us to the individual rider slides. There were only three of them at the park and they all had really long lines. We stood there winding through the narrow path, talking aimlessly about things like home and family until we ran out of things to say and ended up standing there wordlessly. We moved forward every time the line moved ahead, but we were like robots. I had my arms wrapped around my torso, trying to hide my belly. It was something I wasn’t proud of and didn’t want to show off, but my mom had bought me my first bikini and wanted to see me wearing it. I began staring off into space at the contraption of waterslides next to the path, the big plastic tubes wound and curled around the park and made it hard to tell which slide was which. I was hoping for one that I wouldn’t get stuck in halfway down. Those were the worst ones, I hated being stuck in a tube, and I hated having to waddle my way down to the end. The trick I had learned from the slides back home was to push my shoulder blades into the water, along with my heels, and to keep my body straight like a rocket. I would pull my butt off the slide, and cruise down on my heels and shoulder blades. It meant more speed, and less chances of being stopped somewhere on the slide.
In the midst of my daydream I felt something picking at my hair. Lee was standing behind me and Sarah in front of me. I whipped around to face him.
“Are you playing with my hair?” I asked.
He had a sheepish guilty look on his face. “I was trying to fix it, you know, separate the strands?”
“Oh.” I had a perplexed look on my face. “It’s okay, you can go ahead.”
He dropped his hands in his lap and looked away and I looked back ahead of us. We didn’t say anything else until we were back in the lazy river.
“So where are you from?” he asked.
He had a puzzled look on his face.
“It’s in Canada,” I elaborated.
“Oh, okay,” he said.
“Hey!” Sarah piped up. We both looked at her quizzically and she looked down into the waters trying to stop and fight against the currents. “There’s a quarter down there!” she exclaimed.
“Really?” Lee asked. He went over to her and looked down, then dipped his head under the water and came up a few seconds later with wet hair. His eyes met mine for a moment, and I felt those butterflies again. He turned to Sarah. “You mean this quarter?” he asked.
“Yeah, that’s the one!”
He pressed his hand into a fist. “I should hang onto this. Do you think you could find more?”
“Yeah, there’s lots down there. I kept seeing them before but I couldn’t get them.” She looked down into the waters and scanned for another one while I stood up and began scanning my area. Hordes of people on floaters were passing by us and it kept obstructing my view. I did however see a penny and what seemed to be a nickel. I ducked down into the water and felt along the bottom blindly until my fingers curled around the coins. I came up for air.
“I found some!” I exclaimed. This wasn’t exactly my idea of fun, but I didn’t want to spoil Sarah’s moment. Lee smiled and took the seven cents I had found. He pressed it into his hand.
“I think we should try to find more then,” he said.
And so we rounded the lazy river twice looking for change, and came up with about seven dollars. When we were done we were almost near the front doors of the park where the locker rooms and gates were. Lee took towards the beach volleyball courts with the money and I took a look at where my family had left their stuff. That life seemed so far away. When I was with Lee, he looked at me differently, and treated me differently. There was nobody at the beach lounges, just our big beach bag and a couple of towels strewn across the chairs. I shrugged and figured that my mom had decided to venture into the waters after all.
Lee reached the post to one of the volleyball nets and bent down. “We were doing this earlier this morning,” he explained. I watched him as he began digging in the sand, looking for his stash.
“That had to be the worst place to hide it you know,” I said as I bent down and began helping him dig to find the rest of the coins. We came up with a few, but I knew that most of it would have sunk lower than we were digging. I handed him the few coins I had come up with and he unfolded his hand to reveal an even bigger handful of coins. He couldn’t count it all up so I cupped my hands and let him dump the coins into them. Sarah picked up the strays that fell on the sand and put them into my hands while Lee began picking out the quarters first, then the dimes, then the nickels, then the pennies. He was being careful not to touch my skin, and I was busy staring at the sand trying not to catch his gaze.
“We have nine dollars and forty seven cents,” he announced proudly as he dumped the money back into my cupped hands.
“Great!” Sarah said.
“You don’t really want me to carry this around do you?” I asked.
He looked at me and our eyes met again. I however had a frustrated look on my face, like this money was taking away our fun and I would rather do away with it than keep it. In fact, I was also thinking about lunch. He looked up towards the sky and the volleyball nets. “I guess we could go buy some lunch,” he suggested.
I let out a breath and relaxed. “Yeah, we shouldn’t put this back in the sand. How much did you put down there last time?”
“About five dollars.”
“And we only recovered about two of it,” I pointed out.
He crossed the volleyball court and headed back down the path towards the concession stands. “Then I guess we’ll get lunch.”
We passed by my family’s spot again on the way to the concession stand but it was still empty. Some part of me didn’t want to leave him and so instead of going over to the lounges and waiting for my mom or dad to return, I followed Lee. We stood in line at the concession stands and had just enough money for two bags of curly fries. We waited, and they served them to us on a big paper plate. There were some picnic tables set up to the side so we went over there and sat down.
“You better eat fast Eden,” Sarah commented as she stuffed fries into her mouth. I was trying to avoid Lee’s staring, but he kept looking at me in an odd way and I was feeling more self conscious as usual.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because Lee’s a pig!”
Lee frowned at her comment and pushed the fries towards me. He looked me in the eyes and crossed his arms across his chest. “Eat what you want then, I’ll eat later.”
“Ugh, you don’t have to act like that,” Sarah said.
Lee shrugged and looked away while I grabbed a long curly fry and stuffed it into my mouth. There were butterflies, but they were beginning to fight alongside the rumbles in my tummy. I ate a few more fries and watched while Lee got up to get some ketchup. He came back and sat down and I pushed the plate towards him.
“I don’t want anymore.”
I tried to entertain myself with the sight of the palm trees and shrubs around us, along with the other green picnic tables. Sarah was playing with her hair with one hand and trying to brush wet sand off her thigh with the other. I never noticed she was wearing a light purple bathing suit until then, and it looked nice on her. She looked a lot younger than she was, and I felt bad for her.
“Do you want to go on more water slides?” Lee asked as he finished off the last of the curly fries.
I looked at him absentmindedly after I promised myself not to get caught in the death grip of his stunning blue eyes. I tried to find something intelligent to say. “Aren’t you supposed to wait an hour before swimming?”
“We wouldn’t be swimming, we’d be sliding,” he corrected me. He had a clever look on his face like he had just won some competition and so I laughed awkwardly and grabbed the plate. I stuck one of the small burnt pieces into my mouth so that I wouldn’t say what I was thinking out loud and then I swung my legs over the bench to the picnic table and stood up. I took the plate over to the trash can and waited for Lee and Sarah to follow me. Sarah was picking at her toenail when she looked up and saw that Lee was sauntering towards me, and I hopped off down the path. I broke into a half run and then reached some stairs.