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Drama Fiction Romance

I set my bag down gently in the sand and bent over to grab a towel from it.

The sound of the waves crashed in the near distance as the sun kissed my exposed neck. I unrolled the towel and spread it out, setting the bag on the bottom left corner to keep it from blowing away.


“This is a great spot. The tide shouldn't come too close. We can build a fire right here.” James moved his hands in circular motions around the plot of beach he was referring to.


“Great,” I replied. The 'spot' was about 20 feet from the boardwalk, one of the only spaces not already filled by other bodies.


I slid my sandals off and pulled the thin cotton fabric of my cover-up over my head then tossed it at the foot of my towel. As I crouched down to get comfortable I felt the rough texture of the towel against my bare skin, bunching underneath my knees and making sitting more difficult than necessary. I dropped one hip onto the ground and stretched my feet out behind me, my toes grazing the hot sand.


It was the middle of July and the beach was buzzing with people. Families with kids were scattered across the sand, their sun tents and coolers marking their little slice of paradise. People were flying kites, their bright colors creating broken rainbows in the sky. Music was blasting from several areas, each device playing a different tune and begging to be louder than its neighbor. It was anything but relaxing to me.


James had been the one to suggest going to the beach for the weekend. He thought it would be the perfect getaway from the stress of our lives. We had been trying to have a baby but weren’t having any luck, which James was devastated by, but I was utterly thrilled. My birth control hadn’t failed me yet. 


“Look at all these kids. Wish we had our own little guy or girl with us right now.” He opened up one of the folding chairs we had brought, darting his eyes around the beach to catch a glimpse of all the children as he sat down.


“Yeah,” I replied. 


“Sure is a nice day.”

“Sure is,” I said as I sat up to grab my book out of my bag. Maybe if I started reading he would stop talking. 


“It’s pretty warm. Might go dip my feet in the water. Want to join me?” He stood up from his chair and began pulling his shirt off.


“No, thanks. I’m going to catch up on my reading. Have fun.”

I opened my book to a random page and waited for him to head toward the water. I tossed my book to the side and laid down as soon as he was out of sight.


“Becks?”


I quickly opened my eyes. Nobody had called me Becks since college. 


“Damian?” I reached for my cover-up, suddenly embarrassed to be showing so much skin. 


“I can’t believe it. You look even better than I remember.” 


“Look who’s talking.” I stood up, trying to nonchalantly fix my hair along the way.


Damien Brooks. My Damien Brooks.


“How are you? What have you been up to?” He took his sunglasses off and slid them into his shirt pocket, only to throw a hand to his face to shield the sun moments later. His blue eyes sparkled brighter than the ocean.


“I’m good. I’m great. Really great. How are you?” I tripped over my words, trying to remember how to speak.


Damien laughed. “I’m doing okay as well. Where are you located these days?”


“I’m in Seattle. Came down just for the weekend to getaway. What about you?”


He stared out at the ocean. “I live here, actually.”


I felt a sharp pain in my chest. He had settled down and it wasn’t with me.


“That’s great, Damien. That’s really great.” I forced a smile.


“Yeah, it has been quite wonderful. I suppose you can say I told you so.”

He playfully punched me in the arm. 


I wanted to say, go fuck yourself, but I bit my tongue.


Damien and I had been in a long-term relationship for 3 years and had spent our last summer together at the beach. We ate picnics of sandwich meats, fruit, and various grocery store cheeses on the sand by day and cuddled up close to a bonfire roasting s'mores by night. We rode bikes through the small town, eating elephant ears and snow cones along the way. He taught me to surf and I taught him to cook. He told me about his childhood and I told him my dreams for the future. It was the best summer of my life, I hadn’t wanted it to end. But when I proposed settling down and starting a family, he had decided he would never propose to me. He wanted to travel the world by himself, go to new places, and experience new things without me. He couldn’t imagine being stuck in one place for the rest of his life, the life I didn’t have a place in. That was 12 years ago.


“Well, time does have a way of changing your mind.” I had crossed my arms over my chest, suddenly wanting this conversation to have never started.


“Yes, it really does.”

He glanced behind him at a small child who was running his way.

“Slow down, sweety. You know we don’t run on the pavement.”


The little girl stopped at Damien’s side, wrapping her arms around his leg.

“Who’s this lady, daddy?”


The pain in my chest rushed back.


“This is my old friend. Her name is Becks.”


“Rebecca,” I quickly corrected him.


“Yes, Rebecca. This is my daughter, Lily.”


“Hi, Lily. Nice to meet you.” It was not nice to meet her, but you can’t tell a seven-year-old you wish you’d never met them.


“I should probably be getting back. It was really great seeing you, Beck...Rebecca.” He bent over and picked up Lily, resting her on his side.


“You too.” 


I stood there for a moment, watching him walk away into the crowd of people. 


“Who was that?” James kissed me on the back of my neck which had started sweating either from the heat or rage, I wasn’t sure.


“Just an old friend,” I replied.

June 24, 2021 04:06

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2 comments

NK Hatendi
02:25 Jul 01, 2021

An enjoyable short story. It could, however, have been longer, with a climax and a resolution.

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Lauren Rice
02:36 Jul 08, 2021

Thanks for reading and for your feedback :)

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