Sometimes when I'm really craving a vacation or a fairy tale to occur in my life I just write it, and it feels like it happened. I've been craving a Connecticut beach house summer trip, and to be 17 with family friends, so I wrote this story to escape into it without ever having to leave the house. I know it's rough and I'm def not professional writer, but I hope you enjoy it and it can give some of you the escape love story you've been craving also. XO Listen to Sinatra, Michael Buble, Etta James or something like that while reading :)
Morning is her favorite part of the day, the light pours in the big windows and onto the white sheets strewn across her friends and the living room floor. She’s wearing big thick white socks and one of her brother’s summer Hanes T shirts and bikini bottoms. Her skin is tanned from sunning on the beach all week with Michelle and her sisters. It smells like pancakes and bacon, her Uncle is whistling and singing along to Frank Sinatra “I Got the World on a String” which he is playing rather loudly. The light makes the white wood floor boards glow and reflect warm sun around the room. She props herself up against the floral sofas and looks at Michelle sleeping, blonde locks tangled in front of her face. Her uncle comes in holding a frying pan, “Good Morniiiiing!” He says it very low as not to wake anyone, but he’s already made his waking intentions clear with loud music. She asks him quietly what time it is, but he just smiles at her and walks back into the kitchen. Her sister, Katie, yells out from a blanket, “TOO EARLY! Pleeeeease…” and covers her head with a pillow. Katie has always been her opposite, while she loves mornings, girlfriends and dresses Katie is a fan of staying up way too late, boys and denim cutoffs.
She gets up and goes into the kitchen, sits down on one of the white bar stools, leans over the counter and picks at a plate of bacon, her uncle slaps her hand, “Stop that. Not yet!” She gives him a toothy smile and heads up to the bathroom. Her Aunt has decorated the whole house perfectly, including the dream bathroom with baby blue tiles, a white porcelain bear-claw tub, and huge windows looking out at the miles of sandy beach and tall grass. The shower is covered in bathing suits, light pink strings tossed over the door, canary yellow bottoms hang from the taps, she takes them out and hangs them all on the towel rack and turns on the hot water. The soap here smells like tea roses, her Aunt is obsessed with tea roses, in vases and soaps and candles that she lights every evening as the sun begins to set. Someone knocks on the bathroom door; it’s Michelle who doesn’t wait for her response just walks in, talking about the night before and squeezes out too much toothpaste onto one of the spare toothbrushes. She listens as she scrubs her hair with shampoo and sculpts it into a tall, pointed, pixie do.
They went to the beach late last night with Toby and Jason, the boys her and her brother played with when they came to this beach house as kids. Toby grew up to be very cute and over the past week she’d watched all the girls fight for his affection, each with their own personal strategy. Michelle thought it was obvious he liked her, but it didn’t quite seem that way last night, in fact he seemed rather distracted. Toby was one of those boys nobody could ignore, he’d waltz around with each girl, telling her how beautiful she looked or how gorgeous her dress was. He teased everyone, ate lots and ate quickly, he sailed like an ace, laughed oh so loudly and almost kissed her for the first time the day she turned 13.
“Don’t you agree? He was definitely interested.” She steps out of the shower and into a big white robe, “Who? Toby?” Michelle laughs, “Yeah Camilla! Weren’t you listening?” She was listening but she’s avoiding the subject, “Yeah, sure, maybe!” Michelle is wearing a cropped tank top and her school gym pants, she’s got her long blonde hair in messy braids on top of her head. They head downstairs to eat breakfast, Michelle kisses Uncle Joe on the cheek and makes herself a plate of pancakes, exclaiming “I’m starved!” He raises his eyebrows, “I bet. I think I heard you guys come in last night, what was it, 1am?” She smiles cheekily and says, “No, it wasn’t that late!” He rolls his eyes, “What were you guys doing out there? I hope you weren’t swimming.” Michelle looks guilty, “Maybe. Why?”
“Well, because of the sharks.”
“Joe! C’mon. Michelle there are not any sharks.”
“Oh yes there are! Night sharks.”
“Oh my God stop”
“Yep and they only eat little girls like you”
He makes a shark gesture with his arms and snaps at her with them. Dianna and Katie, her sisters, stroll in wearing their bathing suits with hooded sweatshirts, hair a salty, wavy mess.
“I need coffee.” Dianna says putting her head in her hands at the table. Joe puts a mug in front of her and rubs her back. There is a knock on the door, Toby sails into the kitchen, he hugs Michelle and spins her around, grabs a plate, piles it with bacon and drenches it with syrup. “That’s disgusting” Michelle says in her flirtiest voice as he crams it into his mouth. “OK ladies, meet me outside!” He dances in his boat shoes to the big glass doors that lead to the patio, and to Camilla's surprise as he passes her he touches her hand with his fingers. Did anyone see? But no one is looking. All her hairs stand up and as she turns red he looks her right in the eyes. She makes a quick dash to the stairs and flies up to her room, closing the door quickly behind her she lets out a deep breath. Could it be? Michelle is beautiful, perfect in fact. Michelle has long, brown legs, a tiny waist and big blue eyes and perfect blonde hair. After all this time is it possible that hand brush meant something more? Camilla is slightly curvy, her rough, brown hair is waist length and always tangled. Her puffy lips take up too much of her face and her brown eyes blend right in. Now she is nervous, she’s not usually nervous around Toby and it’s an annoying feeling! She madly scours her closet for the perfect thing to wear, something gorgeous but not trying to hard. She throws on a short, white, tennis dress and checks herself out in the mirror. “What am I doing?” She says out loud to her reflection. Only 10 minutes ago she was thinking about how pathetic it was that her sisters and Michelle threw themselves at Toby, and now look at her! With one touch she was an absolute wreck! She rips off the tennis dress and puts on her favorite, long, lavender dress, I mean who cares if he’s seen it before, and she heads back downstairs.
On the porch the girls are laughing with Toby, Jason’s here now too. She watches them through the giant kitchen windows. Joe sees her staring, “You OK doll?” She nods, and shoots him a smile, stepping outside and taking a seat on the porch rail, “Hey Jason” she says. Her uncle blasts Eartha Kitt and Toby dances Michelle up and down the long, white, wood floorboards, Michelle squeals with laughter. The porch is big and white and surrounds the whole house, when she was a little girl they’d turn it into a fort by draping sheets over the sides. Her Aunt let them bring her little antique lamps under with them and at night the fort glowed outside like a warm little house of magic in the dark, the sound of crickets and the waves crashing in the distance. Toby was 3 years older, he told ghost stories to her and her brother, making big gestures with his hands. She always missed him when she had to go back home to the city, but never said anything, not even to her sisters.
In the afternoon the girls spread out a large rose print sheet and dig a big yellow umbrella into the sand. They have a basket filled with sandwiches and cokes, and stacks of summer books. They peal off their clothes, revealing tan skin and colorful bikinis. Toby and Jason are racing down the beach. The house looks small from here, the tall grass sways around it, white and sturdy, blue roof and years of memories. They lie on their stomachs and rub lotion and oil on themselves. It smells like coconuts and salt, her hair sticks to her lip balm and the ends get greasy with oil from her skin. Toby and Jason come running back towards them and dog-pile them, laughing. The girls’ scream and laugh, yelling, “I cant breath! GET OFF!” Toby’s on top of Michelle but his face is right next to hers, “hi” he says softly as he stares right at her, then he jumps up and grabs Michelle’s hand, pulling her down to the ocean. Why would he do that? Why would he be like this with Michelle if he’s interested in her? She couldn’t understand.
The sun is scorching hot, and she’s squinting into it. It feels like they’ve been out here for hours even though it’s only been 45 minutes. She sits up and stares down at the ocean. Michelle is next to her asleep and Katie is burning. She picks up the sunblock and throws it at Katie, jumps up and heads toward the water. She hears someone running up behind her, it’s Toby, “Wait up!” he calls out. They stand at the waters edge, “You going in?” He asks,
“I don’t know, it’s really cold!”
They are still for a minute and stare ahead. He grabs her hand which makes her feel she might faint as he pulls her out into the water, “Come on! We are doing this!!” The water slaps against her legs and she cries out, “OH NO!” the further they go the colder it feels, each body part numbing as they go deeper, until they are up to their necks, wading in the waves. She laughs and takes short breaths of air, but he barely looks at her. Her hair floats like a mermaid’s, long and tangle free, she holds her breath to dive under. The rush of cold fills her ears and makes her dizzy as she swims below. She’s always loved the silence of being underwater, that feeling of weightlessness, nothing beneath her feet. When she comes up for air Toby is looking at her, he seems nervous or something, she’s never seen him act like this before. “Are you OK?” She asks him, he’s acting like he did last night. “I need to ask you something.” He says. She feels her chest tighten, she can barely breathe.
“Remember your birthday?”
“I’ve had a lot of birthdays Toby”
“Don’t do that, you know which one I mean”
“Yeah, Ok, yeah I remember. Why?”
“It’s just that... I have always regretted it.”
He pauses and looks away. “I never told you.”
“It’s fine, we were kids, you had a girlfriend, she never found out.
Please don’t regret it”
“I didn’t care about her finding out, I don’t care about any of that”
She is treading water heavily now, having a hard time staying a float,
“Do you wanna go closer in so we can stand?”
They swim in until her toes can touch the sand. She looks at the beach and sees they’ve drifted quite far to the right. “I can barely see them” she says He grabs her hand and pulls her towards him. His skin is warm in the cold sea, and little droplets sit still on his skin. They are inches apart. Suddenly he lets go and starts swimming towards the beach. “Race you in!!” he yells out. Her heart is going at warp speed, she catches a wave but he still wins.
In her room at the house the girls toss outfits to the floor looking for the perfect dress. Salty, wavy, un-brushed hair a blur as they slip into polka-dots and white silk. Her Mom and Dad are arriving tonight with her brother and Toby and Jason’s parents are coming over for a big dinner with everyone. Michelle wants to look beautiful for Toby, which is hard for her to listen to with what’s happened today. She wishes he’d said more. Why was it so hard for him to say? She was sure now that he felt something, but what was it? Why did he continue this charade with her best friend? She sank into the big down pillows on the bed, the sheets soft against her skin, she watched and pretended to listen to the girls as they borrowed each others shoes and talked endlessly about the night before, skinny dipping and racing the boys on the beach.
Her Aunt is cooking 2 big chickens, the house smells fantastic and is filled with laughter and music, old bluegrass jazz records her Uncle’s collected over the years. The girls are all allowed a glass of wine tonight, but they keep filling up their glasses secretly. She goes outside and sits alone on the padded love seat, she stares in at the house and feels happy. Her parents have arrived, they’re in some debate with her Uncle in the kitchen, and her brother, Daniel, has gone over to Toby’s to pick up his truck. She pulls her knees up to her chin, she’s wearing a tight, cropped grey cardigan and a pink silk sarong that ties above her bellybutton and goes all the way to her ankles. She hasn’t brushed her hair since the swim and it cascades down her back in long, romantic waves. This is the only time she likes her hair, after the ocean.
Whenever her brother arrives it’s a scene, everybody loves him, so of course when the front door opens they swarm him with hugs. Toby comes in behind him, upstaged for once, and Jason behind them both, shy and quiet. Daniel is one of her best friends even though he is her brother, they’ve gotten along perfectly since she can remember, but for the first time she wishes he weren’t here. During dinner her dad tells bad jokes and everyone moans, her uncle competes with really good ones that send the boys to the floor laughing. Her Mom asks her about starting school in the fall and it puts her in a bad mood. She asks her to stop discussing it at the dinner table, but it doesn’t matter because no one’s listening to their conversation. She spaces out as her mom lectures on and on about how it’s the best boarding school close to home, she notices Daniel staring at Michelle, who in turn is staring Toby. She feels a little bit drunk and goes outside as they start to clear the table. It’s gotten colder, and the stars are really bright without any city lights around. She pulls a wool blanket over her lap and closes her eyes.
“What’s wrong with you?” Her brother is staring at her around the kitchen door. He comes outside and sits down next to her
“Come on Camilla”
“I had too much wine”
“OK, yeah. Sure.”
They sit quietly for a minute, the silence interrupted by Michelle knocking on the window and kissing it from the inside. Daniel looks flushed,
“Do you like her?”
“OK, well... she just looks pretty tonight.”
“Oh come on Daniel! She always looks pretty, don’t tell me that!”
“Yeah, ok she always does.”
“Now you tell me. What’s going on?”
She smiles and stands up, spinning around in her silk sarong. “I said, nothing.” and ducks inside.
By midnight her parents and Aunt and Uncle are drunk, sitting around the table with cake and telling stories about her Mom when she was a teenager. Daniel, Michelle, Katie, Dianna and Jason are out taking a walk on the beach with a bottle of wine, she can’t find Toby, he must have gone with them. She feels sad imagining Toby with Michelle, her brother fighting hard to steal Michelle away. Why can’t it ever end like in the movies, why does it always feel like she’s watching someone else’s movie? She walks barefoot on the sand, it feels cool between her toes. The beach is completely lit up by the moon, the hugeness of earth is apparent when she can see this many stars, it makes her feel small and insignificant. She sits down, puts her head in her hands and cries.
At 1am the house is quiet. The group still aren’t back from the beach and her parents are watching a movie in the den. She glances in at them, her mom is asleep on her dads’ chest, her dad is nodding off. In the bathroom she stares at herself in the mirror, her eyes are blotchy and red tear streaks run like snail trails down her face. Her hair is a mess, wind blown and everywhere. Her mother always said that everything looked better in the morning, if you felt sad just go to bed and tomorrow would bring comfort. She decides this is what she should do. Go to sleep! Anything to rid this anxious feeling. She opens the door to her room, it’s pitch black except for the moonlight pouring in across the floor. She sighs and takes a deep breath.
Suddenly someone grabs her arm, he pulls her close to him against the wall,
“I thought you were out on the beach?”
“I was. Where were you?”
“I went for a walk.”
“Why didn’t you come with us?”
“You guys were already gone, I just, didn’t feel like finding a flashlight.”
“But you went for a walk!”
“Not really a walk, just sat really.”
He looks at her, they’re both silent, his face is half lit, eyes glowing in the moonlight. She pulls away and goes to turn on a light, “Don’t.” he says, pulling her back.
“If you turn it on I wont be able to tell you”
“Tell me what? What is it?”
“Well I tried to tell you earlier”
“Yeah I remember”
“Ok well, it’s hard to say”
He opens his mouth and takes a breath.
“Come on!” She yells. Suddenly he presses his lips against hers and for a moment she cannot see, she cannot breath, she can’t even remember who she is. All she can do is feel wonderful. He pulls away, and says
“I love you”
“I love you.”
“You love me?”
He smiles, “You don’t love me. That’s why I never said it.”
“You don’t know anything”
“Well tell me what I should know!”
“What can I say if it isn’t obvious?”
He takes her hand and leads her downstairs to the porch. They sit in the dark and stare at the night sky. He takes her hand and kisses her again.
“I can’t!” she laughs.
“Just say it!”
She looks into the kitchen, the candles on the table have melted all the way down.
“I love you too.”
It really felt like summer, impossibly perfect.
-story by Kimberley Gordon
Inspiration Photos from life in pics, bon appetit flicker, leloveimage blog, studded hearts and google.