Authors: Helen Goltz
Adam went to bed first, then Uncle Seb and the dogs—I thought they never would! I watched as eventually, the light spilling out from under their doorways disappeared. I didn’t check to see if Jack was there for me on the beach—on our rock—I just wanted to be there. I grabbed my jacket and slipped it around my jeans and pullover. It was a cold night, even chillier when the sea spray hit me. The front door resisted me opening it; Uncle Seb said it swelled and tightened with the salt air. I looked upwards at the ceiling asking for permission and the house gave in and let me out. I quietly closed the door behind me and bolted across the road to the beach.
The cool sand felt wonderful as my toes dug in. I didn’t look too far out to sea—the thought of what might lie beneath terrified me. But when it came to meeting Jack, I didn’t feel any fear, just the opposite. My heart was playing its own beat, the ocean breeze made me feel alive and awake for the first time in months and soon, he would be here.
Then I saw him. He was sitting on the rock, our rock, where he had led me the first night we met. It looked like he commanded the ocean from there, the moon placed squarely in front of him, the waves lapping the rock in gentle adoration. Then he turned to face me and a slow smile spread across his face. Was he ever in doubt I would come?
I hated that I needed to see her. I haven’t had that before, I’ve always been in charge and ... well it doesn’t matter, but with her it is different. I sensed it right from the start. I felt her presence before I saw her, and turning, saw she was there watching me. I rose and went down the rock to meet her.
“You came,” I said.
She blushed and smiled, her hair floated on the ocean breeze and her eyes were as full as the moon, pale blue, too large for her little face. I extended my hand to her and she placed her hand in mine. I guided her up the rocks to our spot. She was a sure-footed climber, but I felt her eyes boring into me, studying me.
“We won’t get washed away here, will we?” she asked with a nervous glance out to sea.
“I hope so,” I answered which made her laugh. I read her thoughts then, she agreed. I guess when you lose everything, it takes a while to rejoin the living.
We lowered ourselves to the rock; I didn’t let go of her hand. We sat there in silence for a short while, smelling the salt air, feeling the closeness of each other, and how alone we were. It was magic. It was a strange sensation to feel so intensely for someone so quickly. Sure, I’ve felt attraction before—I thought it was love—but this was different, this was like greed. I was worried about her, I wanted to protect her, keep her ... I just wanted to be with her all the time even if we just stayed here like we were now, forever.
I couldn’t look at him because I desperately wanted to kiss him and I didn’t want it to happen too fast ... I want to remember every moment of it. My first kiss, my first real kiss that wasn’t Christian McDonald in year eight pinning me against the wall and claiming he loved me.
Without even touching my lips, Jack sucked the air from my lungs, I could barely breath beside him and the chills I felt I was sure weren’t from the ocean breeze. I thought I should say something or we might not talk all night, which could be a little weird.
“The waves, that is the tide, it seems higher tonight if that makes sense?” I looked out to sea.
“They are bigger than usual,” Jack agreed.
“Why? How is the tide created?” I asked just so I could hear him talk really.
Jack smiled. “Simply put, the earth and the moon are attracted to each other. The moon tries to pull everything on the earth closer, like a magnet. The earth doesn’t let it. Except when it comes to water, the earth has trouble holding on to it because it is always moving. So each day the tides rise and fall at the moon’s whim I guess you could say.”
“That’s kind of romantic,” I said. Everything was romantic around Jack, I was hopeless.
“We’re the earth and the moon, attracted to each other, me pulling you in and hoping you will stay,” he teased.
I smiled at him and held his gaze until he broke it. Again, we sat in silence for a while.
“Why were you at my school today?” I asked without looking at him.
He stretched his legs out on the rock in front of him and leaned back, supporting his weight on his arms.
“You don’t have to tell me,” I shrugged.
“It wasn’t another girl,” he said.
“I know,” I looked at him. I didn’t know, but I wasn’t going to let on that I would be shattered.
He smiled at me and sat forward again. “I missed you, I told you that.”
I frowned. “So you figured if you just showed up and sat on a bench in the grandstand, sometime during the day you might see me?”
“I knew exactly where you were and that you could see me from your classroom,” he said as he looked at the ocean then directly at me.
“How?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Okay,” I shut down. We sat again in silence for a while.
“Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to ... well, I’m out of practice. I wasn’t stalking you, I just wanted to see you.”
I couldn’t help but smile. I wanted that answer. I stammered in my hurry to assure him I felt the same. “I wanted to see you too. I was worried that you might not return.” I stopped, I didn’t want to say too much and put him off.
He rub my hand with his thumb—his hand was so cold—sending a chilled volt through me, but I turned my hand up to wrap my fingers around his. I wanted him to kiss me now, right now. I wanted to feel his fingers on my neck, on my skin, touching my face. I wanted to drink in his kiss in this perfect setting and I would never forget it.
And then he placed his thumb upon my lips, watching me with his deep ocean blue eyes. He moved closer to me, so close I could feel the strands of his hair touching my skin. Could he hear my heart pounding? It was so loud in my ears that it was drowning out my thoughts. All my nerve endings were tingling, my hair full of charge, he was so close to me.
He looked into my eyes.
I traced her lips, I wanted to kiss her so badly but I wanted this moment to last forever. She sat completely still, her breathing short and sharp, only her eyes moved as she watched my every move. I moved in closer to her.
I suddenly felt weak; she was draining me, not the other way around. How could that be? I looked from her lips into her eyes and I was lost. I closed my eyes to regain my strength; I had to be the one in charge ... what was happening here?
She was so close to me now, her sweet scent overwhelming, I had to kiss her but I was out of control. The power seeped from me into Ophelia, into the ocean, into the rock. I couldn’t let it. I swallowed the lump in my throat and forced myself back from her.
A huge wave roared as it crashed against the rock, Ophelia screamed in fright. Did I create it? She leaped up in fear stumbling backwards, but I was up before she lost her footing and I swept her up and charged from the rocks onto safer sand. She wrapped her arms around my neck and buried her face into my shoulder. I could have her now, take her with me, but it was too soon. I wanted more—more of these feelings, was this what life, what love was about? Was this what everyone else got to experience?
I continued to hold her, walking up the sand and hurrying to the entrance way to the beach near her home. I lowered Ophelia to her feet; she was safe now. I touched my hand to her face for just a moment and then slipped away to the nearby rocks, out of sight. I heard her call my name but it was lost just as quickly in the sound of the crashing waves.
It was Friday and everyone was happy about it except Ophelia. You would think given she survived her first few weeks at a new school, the weekend would be the best news she could imagine. She was quiet all the way in on the bus while we all chatted around her. She smiled when addressed and spoke when forced to, but her eyes had a sadness. I wondered if it was maybe her mother or father’s birthday or something significant. I asked her if she was okay and she thanked me and said she was good. But she wasn’t.
At lunchtime we sat in a group in the shade of a Lilly Pilly tree. Ophelia leaned against the trunk with her eyes closed.
Harry prodded her. “What’s up with you today? Usually we can’t shut you up.”
Ophelia grinned. “Yeah, I know it’s hard to get a word in around me,” she agreed. “I just didn’t sleep at all last night. Do you ever get that?”
Peggy nodded. “Sometimes because I don’t stop studying until after ten o’clock, I go to bed and my mind is still racing. Takes me ages to drop off.”
We all looked at Peggy like she was an alien. Who could relate to that? Good on her though, when we’re all struggling to get into university, she’ll be knocking them back.
“I hear you,” Harry said, “I have that problem all the time.” We all laughed and Peggy blushed but still looked pleased to have Harry teasing her.
I agreed with Ophelia. “I woke up one morning at just after two and I was completely wide awake. Not in that sleep zone, half awake, half dead zone, completely awake! Now that’s annoying,” I said.
“Yeah, well you’ve got all weekend to catch up now, I loooovvvvve the weekend,” Harry said. “What have you got planned?” he asked Ophelia.
“I could show you around if you like?” Peggy jumped in, probably hoping Harry would come along.
“Thanks Peggy, you’re very kind to offer but Adam is taking me to the site of the La Bella, where his ancestor was a hero. It’s for my project,” Ophelia said.
“Are you going to dive?” Harry asked.
“No, I haven’t done a course, maybe we’ll scuba ... I’m kind of happy for him to just stand on shore and point in the general direction,” she shrugged.
Harry laughed. “Hey, don’t look now but Chayse is heading this way.”
We all looked now and it was true—tanned, gorgeous, golden Chayse was walking towards us. Sigh.
Ophelia sat up straight and didn’t look happy. He dropped down next to us.
“Hey everyone,” he said.
I nodded since I couldn’t form a sentence around him and Peggy’s mouth just stayed open. Harry grunted a sort of greeting.
“Hi Chayse, do you know my friends?” Ophelia asked and then introduced us before he could answer. He nodded to each of us as she said our names.
“What’s up?” she asked.
Before he could answer, one of Chayse’s friends came over and sat down as well. This was getting way too weird now. Two of the in-group with us ... why?
“This is Tyler,” Chayse flicked his halo head in the new guy’s direction. Tyler was tanned and fit too, with a buzz cut and the darkest brown eyes I have ever seen.
“Hey,” Tyler answered. Again Ophelia was the only one who found her tongue to greet him. Chayse was gorgeous but Tyler was gorgeous too, not as gorgeous but on a scale of one to ten with Chayse being ten then Tyler was nine. Right, glad we got that sorted. I glanced over to where Chayse’s group usually hung out and it is fair to say if looks could kill, we’d all be dead.
Chayse started. “I heard you got a note thrown at you, it was about me.”
“It was nothing,” Ophelia shrugged.
I found my voice. “We were on the bus on the way to school but we don’t know who threw it—it was just a pack of girls, sort of. It said to stay away from you and something else nasty.”
Chayse shook his head. “Have you got it?”
Ophelia bit her tongue and thought about it for a few seconds. “It’s so not important, really, I’m not worried about it.”
Chayse looked frustrated. “I’d like to see it.”
She drew a deep breath, opened her bag and pulled it from her pencil case. I don’t know why Ophelia decided to keep it, maybe just to remind her of new school blues. She handed it to him.
“How did you know?” she asked.
“Someone on your bus told me,” he said, noncommittally.
He opened the note, frowned and handed it to Tyler who read it and shook his head. He gave it back to Chayse who pocketed it. “This is bullshit,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
Ophelia blushed. “Really it was nothing, not a big deal. We’re cool with it, aren’t we?” she turned to us.
“No,” I said. “I think it’s childish and rude.”
“Exactly,” Chayse said and gave me a smile. Yeah, a smile just for me with his glorious white teeth and those green eyes looking at me for all of fifteen seconds, okay maybe it was only five seconds before he turned them back to Ophelia.
“Leave this with me Lia, I’ll deal with it,” he assured her.
She began to protest but he shut her down. “It’s not on,” he said. “It’s just stupid and I’m sorry.”
Tyler turned to Harry. “Hey was that a Cell Lapa I saw you riding last weekend?”
“Yeah,” Harry looked surprise. “Been saving for it for a while and picked it up a few weeks back. I tell you, the flex-free frame is great, she just begs to be pushed harder. What are you on?”
“A Polygon,” Tyler answered.
“Nice,” Harry said.
“Yeah, it’s a good fit, but I’m thinking of trading up.”
Ophelia looked from Tyler to Harry and nudged me.
“What are they talking about?” she whispered.
I rolled my eyes and Chayse grinned.
“Road bikes, you know ... bicycles,” I told Ophelia.
“We should go for a spin on Saturday morning. Wouldn’t mind trying the Cell if you want to swap for a bit?” Tyler said.
“Sounds good. I’m usually on the road about five,” Harry said.
“Five in the morning?” Ophelia exclaimed.
“Some say it’s the best time of the day,” Chayse teased her.
“Mm, I’ve gone to bed at that time, but never got up then.”
The bell rang and Chayse and Tyler returned to get their bags from their group.
I leaned in. “Can you believe that?”
Peggy shook her head, still with her mouth open, and Harry shrugged indifferently.
Ophelia looked at me confused. “What?” She didn’t get that those guys were kings around the school.
Harry rose and pulled us all up, one by one. He’s definitely going to charm school—Peggy blushed a deep red. I pulled my uniform down and grabbed my bag.
Ophelia fell in beside me as we walked to our last two classes for the day.
“Lia, I can assure you,” I began, “before you arrived, Chayse and Tyler wouldn’t know we existed, let alone come over and talk to us.”
She shrugged. “Maybe they just didn’t have a reason to before.”
Sometimes, I don’t think Ophelia realises the amount of attention she has circling her orbit.
I am in agony. I walked up the path to my house—my house, there I said it—and I was so relieved to say goodbye to everyone and be alone. I guess the distraction today was good but I just need to think. I opened the front door and the lovely Argo and Agnes sensed my despair and sidled up to me. I gave them both a big hug. I had the house to myself, well people-free anyway. I grabbed a Diet Coke from the fridge, went up the stairs, threw my bag into my room and continued up the stairs to the attic. Agro and Agnes came with me and we sat in front of the large windows looking out to sea.
Why did he leave without saying something, without kissing me? Did he change his mind? Did I turn him off or say something wrong? I replayed it in my head all day, a thousand times—touching my lips, scooping me up and racing down the rock so in charge, so confident in his movements. Then he moved away slightly and rubbed his eyes. He touched my cheek for just a minute, his hand was icy cold, and then he was gone. Why? What was he seeing that I wasn’t?
All through art class I kept looking out for him, but he didn’t come. Unbearable, I’m an idiot making myself sick over him.
It’s Friday night, will he come tonight? Who is he with tonight? Why, Jack? Why have I done this to myself?
I’ve been here a minute and instead of mourning my folks, I’m losing my head, or heart, to someone I only just met and now I am in twice as much pain. I’m seriously stupid. I stood up and paced, sat down again and then rose and paced again, clueless as to how it went so quickly from almost kissing me to running away from me.
He said he missed me, I just reciprocated. Maybe telling him what was in my head was too much. God, I’m such an idiot. I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths.
He might come tonight. Maybe I should just join my parents ... I could be buried at sea. Not a healthy thought, but I didn’t have many bright thoughts at the moment.