I've had this written for over two months now and I still feel like there's something missing, but I wanted to post it anyway because I still liked it and it's just been sitting here on my computer for a long time.
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This is how she sees her future and this is why she wants to marry him. She wants to live like this forever. Go days without showering or putting on shoes. Go days with her hair in one huge messy and frizzy ponytail that’s full of lake water. Go days with her only perfume being the smell of suntan lotion. Go days just speeding over waves and pressing her face into the back of his neck. Go days with just her and Roy and the endless shimmering green water.
She forgets to put on sunscreen on purpose sometimes. So she’ll turn this pinkish red and if she pouts just enough, Roy will put aloe onto the places where she’s burned. She’ll jump at how cold it is and he’ll get sort of upset with her and say, “Pam, come on, you gotta stay still if you want me to do this.” She bites her lip and smiles a little, imagining that he just teases her when she jumps, says something like, “Oh, you think that’s cold?” And then puts a big smear of aloe on some sensitive bit of skin and laughs at her when she squirms uncontrollably and tries to move out of his grasp.
It’s his brother’s lake house. At night, they drink beer out on the deck and don’t talk. They just sit there and listen to the bugs and it’s comfortable. Really comfortable. Sometimes she’ll reach over and grab his hand and say, “I love you.” He doesn’t always say it back, sometimes he just smiles and squeezes her hand. But they don’t need to say it anymore. Ten years and it’s just always there. He loves her. She loves him.
Later, they’ll make love to the whirring sound of the ceiling fan in their bedroom. He kisses her in the same places as always. Her mouth and then her neck and then the space between her breasts. Then they’ll finish and he’ll roll over, kiss her on her cheek and slowly fall asleep. She watches him snore and smiles in the dark because he looks sort of adorable with his mouth hanging open.
Some nights, they take his brother’s boat out right at twilight and there’s this hum about everything. She likes to drink enough that she’s dizzy and then close her eyes and lay back as the boat bounces up and down with the waves. It makes her feel like she did when she was sixteen and first started dating Roy. The way she felt when he first kissed her (and it was her first kiss ever) on her porch. Like everything’s spinning around her and she’s standing still.
And Roy will sit down next to her and squeeze her calf a little when they’re about to hit a big wave. She opens her eyes and smiles slowly at him, lifting her head slightly so he’ll lean down and kiss her. She pretends that she’s sixteen, that she’s young again and this is the first time. She loves him there in the soft orange sky, loves him when the sun’s sinking down behind the mountains.
Their first trip to the lake this summer falls on May 12th.
On the jet ski, she imagines Jim’s fingers around the handles. She imagines her arms around his slim build. Her left cheek resting on his shoulder. His long, slim legs and bare feet shining in the sun. His hair looking golden. The way he would look back at her and laugh.
On the deck, she imagines the way they would talk about everything like it was something brand new. He would tell her stories with his hands flying around in front of him. Then there would be a pause in the conversation and she would shiver a little because she just wanted to be close to him. He would say that he loved her quietly like he was whispering it more to himself than to her.
In bed, she cries when he kisses her because she’s thinking about Jim still. How he would kiss her in new places every time, bits of skin she didn’t even know existed. How it wouldn’t be the sound of the ceiling fan, but the sound of his breath and her name coming out with just the right amount of desperation. And afterward, he would just look at her for a long time and she would close her eyes and press her forehead against his chest.
On the boat, she stays sober. She doesn’t smile up at him and he doesn’t kiss her when the boat jumps a little on a wave. She just lays there and closes her eyes. And knows that Jim would be beautiful with orange sun on half of his face and the wind blowing his hair to one side.
The slap of the water against the boat becomes her soundtrack for falling out of love.
She doesn’t even have to lie when she tells Roy that she isn’t feeling well and thinks she should go home. Because she stands in front of the bathroom sink, looking at herself in the mirror and feels the acid burning in the back of her throat. And when she flushes the toilet and opens the door, it’s easy to say, “I don’t want to be here right now.”
Because loving him on summer weekends, loving him in only those brief moments out on the water, isn’t enough. So she silently says goodbye to the lake as she climbs into the truck early on Saturday morning because she knows she can’t come back here after.
She takes off her ring and there’s a line where the sun couldn’t get to her. She’s surprised when it doesn’t take long to fade.
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