“You have to be freaking kidding me.” Felicia said as she looked up from reading her book on the beach.
“What is it?” Her friend, Gina asked looking up and over her sunglasses.
“Over there. Look at the guy in the water with the blue and yellow surfboard.
“Who is that?”
“Gina, don’t you remember him from high school? My first love?”
“Yes, Jason. I’m sure that’s him. It’s been 20 years but that is definitely him.”
“So, are you going to say hello?”
“I am going to say more than hello.” Felicia stood up from her chair and rearranged her wrap she had on the bottom of her suit and walked in the direction of the water and waited.
It seemed like she waited forever for him to finally get out the water. When he did the droplets of the water glistened in the sunshine. His shoulder length black curly hair was tied back in a ponytail and he was ripped. He looked better than ever. But, looks can be deceiving. She knew underneath all those muscles and his six pack was a man who back then wasn’t very nice to her.
She watched as he carried his board and gave her a little smile and walked right past her.
“I can’t believe that he didn’t recognize me.” She said aloud.
She started walking behind him and almost had to run to catch up with him. Dam those long legs.
Jason turned around and looked Felicia straight in the eyes and she knew that he didn’t recognize her at all. No glimmer of recognition in his big green eyes. He looked her over from head to toe twice. She knew that she was also looking better than she did in high school too. She had lost 30 pounds since high school, changed her hair color to a darker brown and had two kids, one ex-husband.
“Do I know you?” He asked.
“You most certainly do.” She answered in a coy way.
“Um-mm, I don’t remember you. Can you refresh my memory?” Jason said flashing his perfect smile.
“Felicia, Felicia Barnes from high school.”
She waited for him to remember. How could he forget her. He told her that she was his first love too and he would love her forever. He was sweet to her for the first year of their relationship. He would write her love letters, bring her flowers once a month for no reason, put little cards and small gifts in her locker, walk her home from school every day and even her mom liked him and her mom rarely liked anyone. She remembered how they used to go to the drive-in movies on Saturday night and kiss in the front seat while her best friend, Nel and her boyfriend would kiss in the back seat on their double dates. How can he forget all of that and more?
“Oh. Now, I remember, Felicia. How are you?”
He opened his arms for a hug and waited. Instead of her going into the embrace of his open arms like she had done so many times in the past she kept her arms at her side, walked towards him and opened her hand. Then she proceeded to slap his face. It wasn’t a hard slap but a slap nonetheless.
Jason took a step backwards and put his hand on his face where Felicia had slapped him. He couldn’t believe that the former love of his life slapped him 20 years later. He remembered her the first time he saw her but hoped that she didn’t remember him. That’s why he didn’t say anything when he walked by her on the beach. He knew that he didn’t treat her as well as he should have the second year they were together. That was the year that changed their whole relationship. He was young and pretty dumb back than. If he could go back and do it all again he would do things a lot differently.
“I guess I deserved that.” Jason said, still feeling the sting of the slap on his right cheek.
“Damn right you did.”
“Felicia why don’t we go someplace and talk. There’s a cafe right across on the other side of the beach. Could we go there and have some coffee and just talk?”
“Well, I don’t know. I guess so.” Felicia didn’t know why she agreed to go anywhere with him but she was curious to see what he had to say.
“OK, meet me there in ten minutes? I need to dry off and change.”
“Yeah, okay. I have to tell my friend where I am going also. So, I will meet you over there.”
Felicia turned around and headed back to where her friend was sitting.
“Hey girl. I thought you got lost. What happened?”
“I was right. That was Jason and we decided to meet at the cafe on the other side of the beach after I slapped him.” Felicia replied, grabbing her beach bag and book.
“Slapped him? What?”
“I slapped him. I know that I shouldn’t have. I have never slapped anyone before in my life.”
“So, why did you slap him after all this time?”
“I don’t know. I think because that’s what I wanted to do 20 years ago after the break-up but I didn’t. I was just in shock. I didn’t have a clue what was going on and when I figured it out like I said I was just in shock.”
“So, what do you think he will tell you now that he didn’t tell you then?”
“I don’t know. Maybe an apology?”
“Good luck, girl. Call me when you are done. I will be sitting right here and soaking up some sun.”
“Okay, want me to leave you a book?”
“No, I’m cool. I am just going to sit here and people watch.”
They both laughed and Felicia headed in the direction of the cafe.
“Hi Felicia. Glad you came.” Jason said with a smile and sipping on some green drink at the cafe.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to come.”
“Oh because I didn’t know if I really wanted to hear anything you had to say. But, I think we need to have a conversation to put this to rest. After all, it’s been over 20 years now and I never really got closure.”
“I’m sorry about what happened back then. But, we were both young and speaking for myself a little or a lot dumb.”
“I can’t argue with that. You were a lot dumb.” Felice said flagging down the server to order some iced tea.
“Just listen. I didn’t mean to hurt you and although, it’s taken me 20 years to say it I am so sorry.”
Felicia looked up from her tall glass of iced tea and wrinkled her nose like something stinks.
“I guess an apology is better late than never. But, Jason, please tell me why, just why. You know that I loved you and you know that you were my first love and I thought that I was yours too. If I was and that was not another one of your lies then how could you do it?”
“You were my first love, and probably my only true love. Yes, I have had other girlfriends and even married twice but I never forgot about you and how you and I were in high school and you just don’t know how many times I wanted to call you over the years. Did you know that I ran into your sister, Cali, a few years ago at the mall? I wanted to ask her about you but I just couldn’t.”
“She told me that she saw you and you talked briefly. But, why didn’t you call me? I had the same phone number, in fact my parents still have the same phone number they have had for 30 years. You couldn’t pick up the phone? Were your fingers broken?”
“I couldn’t help it when I left town that day. I didn’t want to. Do you remember my brother, Steven? Well, Steve did something horrible and we had to leave town. Our parents didn’t tell anyone that we were leaving and I couldn’t tell you once we left. My parents wouldn’t let me.”
“So, you are telling me that you and your family were on the run?” Felicia asked.
“Not really on the run like on TV or something but we had to leave. Steven was in a fight and he accidentally killed someone. It was self defense but the guy that he accidentally killed was in a gang. Steve didn’t know it at the time but back then you know gangs were bad and if one of them got killed they would come after the family, you know retaliation? So, that’s why we had to leave that next night. Our parents were scared and told us not to tell anyone because it was a matter of life or death.”
“So, you couldn’t tell me back then. You just left and I was wondering what happened to you. I thought I had done something to drive you away. But, Jason, over the years, when the danger passed how come you never told me?”
“Felicia, I thought about it but we moved to another town with some relatives. Remember my Aunt Kay and Uncle Tony? They had a small farm and we moved with them for about 6 months until my dad found a job in another town and we moved again. By the time I went to college we had moved 5 times. My dad was always looking over his shoulder and we never stayed in one place for too long. Than when I went to college. I went away to college to the University of California in Berkeley and we lived in Nevada back then. I thought about calling you but I heard from Mary Kerry, your cousin that you had gotten married. So, I couldn’t tell you and just went on with my life. I got married after college to Aretha and we had a son, Jason Jr. but it didn’t last. I was still too young to get married. We divorced 4 years later. Then I got married again 6 years later and that marriage ended the same way. Believe me I desperately wanted to tell you everything.”
“I am sorry that you had to go through all of that. Although, I am still sort of upset that you didn’t find a way to tell me before now I do understand and I do forgive you. It’s a lot to take it though.”
“I know. Once again I didn’t mean to hurt you. I loved you so much. I was going to ask you to marry me after we graduated from high school.”
Felicia laughed at the thought of the two of them walking down the aisle at 18.
“What’s so funny?”
“Jason, you know that would have been funny. Us, getting married at 18. We were still kids and very immature kids. Our marriage wouldn’t have lasted 6 months.”
Jason laughed so hard he had tears coming out of his eyes.
“Jason, do you think we can move past all of this and let the past go and move on. We can start a new friendship.”
“Yes, let’s cheer for that.”
They clicked their cup and glass together and were still chuckling and talking until the sun went down.
“This was nice. I am glad that I ran into you today. And did I tell you that you still look beautiful.”
“Oh, well, you don’t look too bad yourself. Been at the gym much?”
They both laughed again at Jason’s new muscular body.
“Well, it was nice seeing you today can I call you sometime?”
“Jason, who said that this has to end tonight? We can continue talking at my place. Unless you have somewhere else to be?”
“Race you to the parking lot!”
They both ran to the parking lot and never lost touch again.