Cliffside

Here’s a thing I wrote.  More are here:

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Kerry and I are sitting with our bare feet hanging over the edge of the cliff, watching the sun sink into the sea.  We are so high up that the kids walking along the beach don’t notice us as they start trundling along below us.  I figure they are about twelve or thirteen, but it’s a bit hard to tell from this distance.

Slowly they walk along, making a concerted effort not to really look at each other.  She keeps watching the waves churn onto the sand.  He is mostly watching the ground in front of them.  They are obviously having the sort of earth rending conversations that only teenagers can manage, and the drifting murmur of their voices is scattered across long pauses and evening winds.

She is very deliberately swinging her arms.  The boy steps with each swing, like it’s a metronome.  His right hand clenches into a fist, and then stretches wide and starts to move out toward her pendulum fingers.  Just before they touch, he draws back.

Kerry confirms my suspicion that the girl knows.  She is waiting for him to stop her overly exaggerated swing, but he is not brave enough or wise enough to read the signals.

I agonize for him.  I was twelve the first time I fell in love.  He can’t stop thinking about her and he doesn’t know what to say to her.  She is waiting for him, and in his head, he knows it must be true.  Every time he reaches to her though, the intensity of first love, the all-consuming, entirely confusing need he feels for her is too much.  There is no way she could want him to hold her hand as much as he wants to hold hers.  It is entirely impossible, and when their skin meets, he now knows she will recoil.  He has to pull back, so he can hold on to hope for a moment longer.

All the while, she keeps waiting, as consumed and confused as he is, wanting and waiting.  He never comes right out and says he loves her, never touches her except by accident, leaving her certain that she is imagining all the times it almost happens.

When I was twelve, I pulled back one time to many, and my first love moved away.

I reach out and squeeze Kerry’s hand, for the boy I was, for the boy below, and hope he is a braver child than I.

Published in: on January 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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