Thursday 12th February 2009by Tina
– 5 –
I often wonder how things could have changed that summer, when it was supposed to be a good one. It was my summer before our last year in college, the summer of being an intern, earning our own money and then spending them all off on the weekend. That summer was my first summer to be in a relationship again, even if it was in the long distance.
Olive across the miles was just the same as when she was here. She was often quiet whenever we’d go out and we’d have deep conversations about all things in her life and in my life. When she was in Sydney, we had to keep our calls short so she’d just tell me about her day and I’d say something about mine and end the calls with I-miss-you’s and I-love-you’s, as what every boyfriend and girlfriend would do.
I missed Olive.
But Amanda’s presence made up for it.
“Hey Chase, why aren’t you out there? Come on, Ryan’s going to teach us how to surf,” Amanda’s dropped on the lounge chair beside me, all wet from the beach. Her teeth chattered slightly as the wind blew.
“You seem to be having fun,” I observed, smiling at how happy she seemed. She stretched out on the chair, face up to the sun.
“Yeah I am,” Amanda said, eyes closed. “This is the most fun I’ve had since…well, you know.” She opened one eye to look at me, smiling a bit before closing it again. My smile grew wider even if I know she couldn’t see it. She shifted slightly and chuckled when she heard some yells from the people running down the beach.
“So have you heard from Olive today?” she asked.
I blinked and realized that I had been staring at her for a while. “No, I haven’t yet,” I said. “I left my phone in the room, and she usually calls at night.”
“Well, she calls me in the morning,” Amanda replied. “She seems to be having a great time there.”
“I miss her.”
“And she tells me she misses you a lot.”
I looked towards the water, still smiling. Then I felt a hand grab my arm, pull me up from my seat and pull me towards the beach. Amanda’s full laugh ringing out as she ran, and I found myself joining her laugh as I allowed myself to be dragged. Things moved too fast then, and I remember her hand moving down my arm and onto my wrist and before I knew it, my hand was locked in hers, fingers intertwined.
I didn’t think Amanda noticed because she was too busy laughing, but I was suddenly very aware of her presence again. It wasn’t until we reached knee-deep water that she stopped trying to run and realized that we were holding hands. She looked at them and then at me, making no motion of letting go.
I don’t know why I did what I did next, but I squeezed her hand gently, marveling slightly at how her hand fit mine and how right it felt. Amanda looked down at our hands again, eyes wide, like she couldn’t believe it and responded with a squeeze.
And then she let go.
I watched her run towards the others, leaving me standing there against the waves. There was this feeling again, kind of like when I dropped Olive off at the airport. I flexed my fingers again, trying to remember how my girlfriend’s hand felt inside, but instead, I just remembered the warmth and fit of Amanda’s.
* * *
Amanda was sitting away from the happy drinking group, looking out into the ocean. It was later that day, and everyone was already starting to get drunk. I had a couple of shots myself and I was already feeling a bit buzzed, but not too much. I noticed Amanda steal away by herself and decided to follow her. She sat on the sand a couple of meters away in the darkness, beer bottle in hand.
“Wow, you’re drinking. Does Olive know that?” I joked as I sat beside her. Amanda doesn’t drink, and so does Olive, so seeing her with that bottle was a big surprise.
Amanda laughed softly. “Don’t tell her. Did you talk to her yet?”
“Yeah, just after dinner,” I said, looking out at the water. I couldn’t see anything except for some lights and the white foam of the waves as it crashed onto the beach.
“Chase…have you ever wished that things were different?” Her voice was soft, almost dreamlike.
“Hm?” I glanced at her questioningly.
“You know. Like things didn’t happen the same way it did.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Not really, I guess. What about you?”
She sighed. “All the time,” she said softly.
Amanda nodded. “I wish…my mom wasn’t sick. That I wouldn’t have to worry about her. I wish Olive wouldn’t have to go away every summer. I wish…that things about this other thing was different.”
“What other thing?” I wanted to know.
Amanda took a swig from her beer, and I saw her face color as she swallowed. “Just…some things. Things I want but I couldn’t have, that I wish I could still have.” She gave me a look.
I didn’t answer. But there was something about the way she looked at me that made me feel what I felt that night at our house and earlier at the beach. I looked at her, and I found myself putting my hand gently on top of hers. She pulled it away, but then she reached for my hand again, folding her fingers over mine like we did earlier during the day. I moved closer to her and she laid her head on my shoulder with a sigh.
It was like we were in our own world, a world where we can hold hands and be close and where there are really fairies in Ferris Wheels without thinking of other things or other people. There was no one else, no one to tell us that what we were doing is wrong. Sitting like that, her hand in mine and head on my shoulders, felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Like it was right.
Amanda turned her head to look up at me, just as I moved my head to look down at her. Our faces were so close together that there was only one thing to do…