March 7, 2010 (Copyright 2010)
I once knew a boy who loved adventure and excitement. We met at the beach during the summer just after my 17th birthday. He was always living on the edge. Nothing seemed to shake his nerves the slightest bit. He loved those rides at fairs. You know the ones with all the flips and loops. He wanted to do anything that got his adrenaline pumping. He would hike, hunt, and run. He was so energetic and carefree. He was a hard worker, too. Give him a job that had a lot of physical labor and he would go above and beyond your expectations. He liked fast cars and long roads so he could just drive for miles and miles. He had a brave spirit and a kind heart, but he seemed guarded, trusting only himself. Then I came along. That’s when things changed.
His name was Alex. He was 17, tall, dark, and handsome. His body was toned and his skin was golden brown from spending many days in the sun. He had a smile that put the sun to shame. It was so bright and so warm. When he smiled, no matter how you felt, you had to smile back. He had soft, jet black hair that hung wispily over his piercing, greenish blue eyes. I say greenish blue because they changed every time I saw him, kind of like the ocean. Maybe that is why I was so fascinated by his eyes, because the ocean was something I could just stare at all day. He loved the ocean, too. He once tried to convince me to go way out on a boat. He said the waters were even more captivating farther out.
Unlike him, I was afraid of everything. I preferred my feet on the ground and to stay as far away from danger as possible. He especially liked the ocean during a storm. The way the waves crash against the rocks, the way the clouds swirl over the water, the way the color of the water goes from a calm, breathtaking aqua blue to a deep sapphire and emerald mess within minutes. Not even a storm as beautiful as that could compare to the storm of colors in his eyes.
We spent hours each day on the beach walking and talking about things, even though I did do most of the talking. I told him my dreams of being a professional toe shoe dancer and that I wanted to dance in red toe shoes. He said he could tell I was a dancer by the way I carried myself. He said I was graceful and that he believed in me. He told me to never give up on my dreams. He was never one to say a lot, but when he did it blew me away. He could make the simplest words mean so much. He told me about his dreams of living on a boat and traveling the world. He dreamed of spending his days discovering things beneath the water, watching every sunset he could, and falling asleep under the moon and stars.
He made it sound so easy and beautiful, but I knew it would never be. Or maybe that was it. Maybe it would be with him. Maybe it would be everything he said it would be. I envied his open mind about things and his positive thoughts. I had always felt like the world was out to get me and I had put up walls so I could not get hurt. Somehow we both knew we could trust each other. We both were so different, yet so alike. We were like puzzle pieces that were shaped completely different that fit perfectly when put together. He was a good boy. I was a good girl. That is how it was.
I remember the day we were sitting on soft towels in the sand watching the tide roll in and out. The sun was going down, painting the sky in pink and gold. I was drawing in the sand with pieces of drift wood and watching the sand crabs scurry around. He was just sitting there staring at the ocean. I was listening to him hum softly. He was good at singing but he would never admit it. He always hummed the same song. It had a hauntingly beautiful melody. I still hear his voice in my head singing it over and over again.
While I was distracted trying to figure out what he was singing, I had not realized he had stopped humming until I heard him say my name. I looked up and was surprised. He was holding a small box neatly wrapped in pale brown paper. The paper looked worn, like he had been carrying it around with him for quite some time. It was almost like he could never make up his mind to give it to me. He had a sweet sadness in his eyes, but it didn’t give me a good feeling. I asked, “Is everything alright?” He gently smiled, not answering my question and said, “I want you to have this but you have to promise me something,” as he gently placed it in my hand. I said, “Okay…,” probably sounding a little confused. He said, “Promise me you won’t open it until the time is right.” I am sure I made the most puzzled face anyone could imagine. I said, “What? How will I know when the…” He interjected softly, “Please … just promise me you will wait.” The soft, pleading tone in his voice brought tears to my eyes. It caught me off guard for some reason. This whole situation made me want to cry. I had this gnawing feeling deep inside me, telling me there was more to this than he was letting on. Suddenly, I felt sick. I had a terrible feeling that I was going to lose him. I looked away so he could not see my eyes and I blinked away the tears. I looked up at him and said, “I promise,” almost in a whisper. It seemed like forever before he replied. I almost thought I had not said it aloud. He said, “Thank you.”
For a long while we sat there in silence. I was gripping the box like my life depended on it while he was lying on his back with his eyes closed. Somehow, I really wanted to know what was going on but then again, I did not want to know a single thing. How is that possible? He slowly opened his eyes, sat up and said, “These past seven weeks have been amazing. Meeting you was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.” For a second, I thought I was dreaming. I pinched myself to make sure I really wasn’t. Yeah, it hurt. I was awake. I felt like an idiot for not saying anything. He continued, “I feel like I’ve known you all my life, even though I haven’t. That’s the only way I can describe it. You are a beautiful person inside and out. Never let anyone tell you differently. I never want to lose you. You mean the world to me and I love you more than I ever thought I could love anything.” I was speechless. Again, I felt like an idiot for not saying anything. I finally managed to catch my breath. I said, “You’re beautiful. I don’t want to lose you either. I love you so much. No words could even come close to telling you how much I love you.” I felt silly. That did not go as smoothly as I had planned. The gentle smile he wore let me know he knew what I meant. He would not have had me say it any other way. He gently kissed me. The kiss was sweet and sincere, and he held me in his arms. Right then and there I knew I wanted this to last forever.
The next morning I woke up to pouring rain, thunder that made the room shake, and lightening so bright it hurt my eyes. I grabbed my raincoat and stepped out the front door of the beach house. I looked out across the water. The waves were angrily crashing and rolling onto shore. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of something against the rocks. It was small fishing boat. It was the boat Alex worked on. It was the boat that he said he was going out on this morning. I felt myself trying to fight the thought of Alex being hurt, or worse. I started running to the shore. The rain was hard, stinging my skin. I felt like I could not run fast enough. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it would beat out of my chest. I reached the shore. I saw EMT’s and a crowd all huddled around something. I was not going to let myself believe it was him until I saw for myself. I was begging,” God, please don’t let it be him. Please don’t let it be him. Please, please, please.” If it was Alex, I was not going to be angry at God, but He was the only one I could even think of talking to. I would be devastated. I would feel like I was losing part of me. I pushed through the crowd. Time felt like it had stopped. There he was. The boy who was mysterious … the boy with no fear, kind, brave, beautiful … the boy who loved me … the boy I loved, my boy, my Alex. He was cut up. His clothes shredded. He was broken. I fell to my knees and scooped him into my arms. Gently smiling, he opened his eyes. Tears poured down both of our faces. Paramedics tried to drag me away, but I wouldn’t let them. In a choppy, weak voice he told them to let me stay. They backed away, knowing he was not going to live because he was bleeding internally. Barely audible, he said, “I love you, forever and always.” I said, “I love you, too.” Struggling through the tears I said, “Forever and always.” We gently smiled at each other through the tears. I did not take my eyes off of him as I knew this would be the last time I would see his smile. This would be the last time I would see his beautiful eyes and the last time I would hold him. His eyes gently closed and I felt him let go. He was gone.I barely got back on my feet. I stumbled through the crowd. Faces of strangers were staring at me. They all had sympathetic eyes. I slowly got back to the house. I went into my room and collapsed on my bed. Crying so hard, I felt like I would die. I could not seem to get enough air. Sometimes I would not even make a sound. I rolled around and screamed and yelled and soaked my pillow in tears. This went on for hours. Suddenly, I felt something hard beneath my pillow. I reached under it to sling whatever it was across the room when I saw it was the little brown box. The little brown box Alex had given me. I slowly sat up and my tears fell on the already worn paper making it even thinner. I slowly lifted the paper away, as if it was wrapped in flower petals and I was not allowed to tear a single one. I removed the paper and opened a pale blue box. Inside was a black music box made to look like a piano. As I opened the music box it started playing a beautiful song, one I knew but couldn’t remember why it was familiar. Then it hit me! It was the song he hummed all the time. It was beautiful. I realized there was a heart shaped locket lying on the red velvet interior of the music box. It was silver. “I will love you, forever and always” was engraved on it. I felt weak. I opened the locket and inside was a picture of us on the beach. He had taken it with his camera when we first met. I could see his beautiful eyes and warm smile once again. You could tell in the picture that we were happy. We were happy together. I closed my eyes and thanked God. I needed this more than anything right now.
I opened my eyes, realizing that I will see him again one day on the golden shores of heaven. I clasped the locket around my neck. I have never taken it off. Alex would have wanted me to move on and I have, but I will never forget my boy with no fear.
Work of fiction for a school project. Photographs by MaryJustice
Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Copyright 2010