Then came a day of magic. It wasn’t planned to be that way, few real magic ones often are. It was planned to be an afternoon at the beach. They left too late, forgot half of what they intended to pack, and were totally unprepared for the weather.
On the way out she said, “Where exactly are we going ?”
“To Torrey Pines.”
They parked the car. The wind coming from the Pacific smelled of salt and seaweed and tropical islands thousands of leagues distant, driving their imaginations to incredible fancies, and the sun was resting just above the horizon. White cumulus clouds welled up along the distant rim of the world, promising a sunset of rare beauty.
“Looks good to me,” he said.
She nodded in agreement.
The golden beach stretched its long arm beneath tall sandstone cliffs standing like silent sentinels. When you walked its length you felt safe on both sides.
“It’s surrounded and cut off,” he thought, “It’s a good place for thinking.”
“It’s cut off and surrounded,” she imagined, “a good place for loving.”
The wind gusted again so he gave her his coat.
She took it with a smile, because she knew, as a girl always does, it would require them to sit close later. As the sun lowered, the once bold disc turned the blue sky fragile pink and gold cellophane. The only sound was the scream of plummeting gulls and the wind kissing the waves’ white-laced necks, like in Tales of Brave Ulysses by the old super group Cream. It was just the two lovers, lost in romance, drowned in silence, caught between the sky, the waves, and endless expanses of fine golden sand.
“Let’s sit awhile,” she whispered, so not to break his thoughts, for he hadn’t said a word, then pulled on his hand to lead him away.
They picked a place at the base of the cliffs. He pulled a joint out of his pocket and tried to light it. The wind refused to be polluted by smoke.
“It’s OK,” she said. “Try this instead,” and gave him a kiss.
“You must be cold,” she said and snuggled up close.
It was only too obvious he had something on his mind. Women know such things because they can cook. She knew he had a thought baking, she could tell by the smell of him.
He looked at her face. She saw what was coming. They’d come to the point where it might be said with impunity. Well, only if he was lucky. He was guilty of the thought, so it was time to confess.
The sun dipped lower, setting flame to the clouds. Dark cumulus rims tinged gold. The heat spread, setting the night on fire. Jim Morrison roared his magnificent roar. It was time to release, to set free, to unshackle, his intimate emotions. Time to unwind the coiled springs and lay them bare. He’d entered the confessional of sand wave and cliff, so he whispered in her ear, afraid of her face,
“I love you, you know?”
“It’s OK,” she said. “Don’t worry. I love you too.”
The words were out like chained lightning. If they meant the same thing to each of them it would have been a miracle. But they were out, and that was enough. It was something they both wanted.
He let out a breath and looked in her eyes. When he was satisfied she wasn’t lying or saying it just for form or as something she knew he expected to hear in return, he squeezed her tight to protect her from the wind. It was useless. His coat could do that. What he really needed was to protect her from himself. He was the perfect fool, who didn’t know what was within himself, or what he was capable of. But it was too late; the words were out.
Feeling a chill, he clasped himself. There was no going back. She took off the coat and blanketed him as if he were an autumn leaf trembling with the sudden awareness of its own mortality, afraid to fall and give up the sap of life. She sheltered over him, protecting him with her flesh, attempting to drown his sorrows in her own fragile body.
She heard him say, more to himself than her, “This isn’t going to be easy.”
“I know,” she answered calmly, her breath caressing his ear. “I know,” she repeated even more softly, but with all the weight of experience and common sense behind it.
When they left the beach at dusk the sky had turned to ink and gold. Their tracks in the wet sand glowed with sparkling florescent diatoms disturbed by the pressure of their feet. Those caught in the ebb tide were busy dying.
The couple’s relationship, a relationship freely entered, would be caught there too. It was trapped by the words of love they uttered, captured in their poisonous red tide of love, tangled by the love-knot she’d plaited in her hair with her delicate fingers and placed around both of their necks like a noose, with only the strength of her beauty.
When they got in the car and drove away, the sand, the cliffs, the sky and waves, faded into the distance, where they’d been all the time, took on a more realistic perspective, and were forgotten as easily as unintelligible sentences spoken in dreams.
©Steven Hunley 2013