This was our place. Our hide away to just be. I loved everything about it: the warm sand under my feet, the smell of salt water, the breeze tangling my hair.
I knew he would leave. He had wanted to get out since before I had met him. I never actually told him how I felt about it. I guess I had just hoped it was all an act.
He was good at that. Acting, I mean. He had been doing it all his life. His father was mean and his mother couldn’t have cared less when she left. Tough was the way to be. His father wouldn't mess with him if he were tough.
At school he was the classic idiot. Didn’t care about his marks and had a permanent seat in detention. Teachers were considered another adult to be despised and disrespected.
Like I said… he could act.
In truth, he was brilliant. He worked hard to get his A and made sure no one knew it. He had a deal with the teachers too. He gets an A he gets a detention. That was how he liked it. I didn't get it.
The irony was how we met. It was at youth group, of all places. My youth leader had seen him on the streets. He was about to tear this poor kid to pieces when my youth leader stepped in. No blood was shed and it ended in the tough guy coming to church.
The strange thing was that he kept coming. Week after week he showed up with even more questions than the week before. I watched him. It was strange. He was a completely different person. When I saw him at school he would pretend that he didn’t know but it was no longer the same.
After youth one night, as I was walking out the door, he came up beside me. My heart raced as he asked me why I had been staring at him that night. I had kept my head down and picked up my pace.
“Aren't you always talking and giving answers at youth group? Now you can't talk? El gato tiene la lengua?” He called after me. I stopped and turned; surprised that he had noticed me at all. He smile, a rarity, then crossed the street, heading in the opposite direction.
After that I would catch him watching me. When he’d see me notice, he’d smile and walk away. A couple times I thought he’d come say something but he never did. At youth he’d sit on the opposite side of wherever I sat but always watched me intently when I spoke. It was intimidating and sometimes I’d loose my thought. The rest of the youth seemed to find this hilarious. When they chuckled, he’d glare at them. I’d blush and the session would move on.
Then, when I was walking home from youth one night, I heard my name. I turned and saw him jogging up to me.
“Hey yea, where are you going?”
“To the moon.” Sarcasm… I had been aiming for sarcasm… I got squeaky instead. I cleared my throat and started walking. He fell in step with me.
“Oh… Can I come, Preciosa?” He hadn't even batted an eye. His unusual grin was there.
After that, we became friends at first. Turned out, he could be a very sweet guy. I enjoyed learning about him and he seemed to want to know everything about me.
He loved to sing.
There was one night, in the middle of winter, where a surprise snowstorm kept us at his place for the night. After I had called my parents we had settled down to watch a movie with popcorn. It was the first time we had kissed.
I met his dad that night.
The sound of shattering glass caused him to tense, his hands balling into fists. I looked up at him. He glared hatefully at the doorway.
I saw my first fight that night.
As the months became warmer, he took me to his favorite spot: The beach. It wasn’t a pretty beach. There was seaweed and trash littered everywhere, but by the water was nice. When I asked him why this was his favorite spot, he shrugged.“My mom and I used to come here.”
He started to tell me about leaving his home and making a better life for himself, away from his horrible memories. Every time he mentioned it my hands would clench and I’d look away. He would stop talking and stare out at the waves, lost in thought.
I turned and continued to walk down the beach. The sea gulls must have called it a night. It was silent.
He had started to talk about taking me with him. When we had graduated earlier that week he had smiled as he kissed me and asked where I wanted to visit first. Then he left. I had gone to his place and found his father passed out in a drunken stupor. I shook him awake to find out where his son was. “He’s gone,” he growled. “He ain’t comin’ back either.”
I had come here to the beach after that. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Why would he want me to come with him? I wanted to hate him. I wanted to forget him.
I loved him.
I stood with my back to the ocean. The dunes rose on either side, braced against a worn rock cliff. When the tide comes in, the spot is usually under water, with only the flat tops of the dunes showing. We once came here to spend from low tide to low tide in this spot, climbing the dunes as the water came in. It was at midnight, sitting under several blankets, that he had first told me he loved me. I turned and watched the sun sink behind the water. Pinks, oranges, purples, brighten the clouds as the blue sky darkens.
This was our spot.
The tears started to fall one at a time, leaving trails down my cheeks. They fell off my chin and onto the sand, joining the rest of the salt water.
I jumped and turned. He stood there casually, his hands in his pockets. I blinked and quickly rubbed away the tears. After taking a few deep breaths I walked towards him slowly. He watched me. He had told me once that he loved to watch me. Every step he acknowledged.
I placed my hand on his chest. He was real. I looked up at his bright blue eyes. He smiled at me. My hand came up and rested on his cheek.
I slapped him.
His head snaps back and for a moment he looked shocked and angry. He sighed and shrugged. “I probably deserved that.”
Tears streamed down my cheek. I no longer cared how I looked or that he was seeing me cry for the first time. I stood on tiptoes and kissed the slightly red handprint.
“I thought you were gone,” I said.
“I went to get things ready for us. I wanted to surprise you. I’d never leave without you, Preciosa,” He said, calling me gorgeous.
His name for me.
I sniffed and took a deep breath to calm myself down but it didn’t work. He tried to wipe the tears away but more came. He smiled and wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly.
“Yo nunca dejaría mi corazón. I would never leave my heart, Preciosa!.” He whispered in my ear.
The sea gulls came back out to wish us goodnight.