Chapter 1: Chapter 1

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 101

1.

 

Sign here please.”

The UPS driver handed me the paper along with the pen he got from his breast pocket. I was already running a bit late. My friends were waiting outside, ready to drive us to the beach, but once I opened the door I saw the UPS truck. He already saw me coming outside, so there was no point in ignoring him. I quickly signed the paper with Eric Palmer and accepted the package. It was the size of a book, covered in brown paper and wrapped with a rope. I couldn’t remember ordering anything. That’s when I saw my father’s name on the package. I shook it a few times to guess what it was, but it didn’t make any sound. Guessing it wasn’t fragile, I threw it in the hallway. 

There would be plenty of time for that later. For now, I just wanted to go to the beach with my friends. Summer vacation was running on its end and we wanted to make the most of it before we all went to college. This could be our last summer together. After that, we would all go to different states to pursue our dreams of making something of ourselves. 

 

A yellow Jeep Wrangler was parked right outside, with Greg behind the wheel. It was his turn to drive us all to the beach. We didn’t want to take advantage of the one with the best looking car, so we all decided to take turns driving. Next to Greg was Naomi, waving for me to hurry up. In the backseat was Jake, my best friend. By the looks of it, his head was in a book again. He didn’t even notice they were already outside my house, waiting for me to get in. 

I closed the door behind me, making sure it was locked and ran for the car. With one swift movement, I jumped in the backseat next to Jake, making him jump up and drop his book to the floor, right underneath the driver’s seat. 

“I’m sorry man,” I laughed.”

“Just leave the book, you got plenty of time for that back home,” Greg yelled, “Let’s go!”

He was eager to get there, showing off his muscles to everyone who was there. I wasn’t an athlete like him, so I had no idea what it felt like to have every girl look at you as soon as you took off your shirt. While Greg was busy with football training, I was at home either watching movies or making my own documentaries. For that occasion I had brought my GoPro with me, trying to document our last summer together. In a few weeks, we would all go our different ways. I had come to Los Angeles a few weeks early, trying to get to know the city before I made it my home for the next couple of years. I was lucky enough to get into the Los Angeles Film School with my grades. It has always been a dream of mine to get into one of the top documentary filmmaking programs out there. It was my documentary about climate change that made the difference. I wasn’t as smart as Jake, who got in every Ivy league he applied to. Yet he still decided to take a gap year and travel around Europe. Something about expanding your boundaries and get in touch with your inner self. If I had the money, I might have joined him, but I was eager to get started with my education. The sooner I got that out of the way, the sooner I could start making award-winning documentaries. At least that was my goal. 

I gave Greg directions to a secret beach close to Santa Barbara. It was a longer drive than to our usual spot in Long Beach, but I guaranteed them it would be worth it. Few people knew about this place, so it wouldn’t be as crowded as the other beaches. Naomi had connected her Spotify to the car stereo and was looking for a proper playlist for our little trip. On the tunes of Surfin U.S.A., we arrived at our destination an hour and a half later. I was the only one who knew where it was, and as soon as I saw we were getting closer, I stood up. My shirt blew open in the wind and I yelled:

“We’re here!’

 

Everyone was excited to see what kind of beach it was, and why it remained a secret to most people. Normally, I would have taken this opportunity to bring my surfboard with me. But this was all about us being together one last time. Not all of us surfed, so it would be selfish of me to get out in the ocean alone. But a BBQ and swimming didn’t sound so bad either, and I for one, couldn’t wait to get into the water. 

“Where’s the beach, Eric?”

“Just wait, we’re almost there.”

There wasn’t a beach in sight, only sand dunes, as golden as the sun that shone brightly above us. The grass brought them to life, moving in the wind as tiny little green flags. We walked towards what seemed the end of a cliff. There it was revealed that there was a small pathway down, leading to a beach hidden from sight. 

“Where did you even find this place?” Greg asked.

“When I just learned how to surf, my teacher brought me here once. He said the best waves, are the ones no one knows about.”

The sea air arrived with a nostalgic majesty. It brought me back to the first time I laid eyes on this beach. I imagine it was about the same way how Naomi and Greg were looking at it. I love this beach. I love the driftwood that rides the waves as tiny little rafts. I put my GoPro on top of a rotten log, facing the ocean. This would be the best spot to make a timelapse. 

I threw off my Hawaiian shirt and ran towards the water. It was cold at first, so the best way was to dive right in. It didn’t take long before everyone was in the ocean. I loved to swim because the water made me feel free. It was a way for me to defy the laws of gravity. If I closed my eyes, I could picture myself as an astronaut, floating in space. This was my way to experience the feeling of weightlessness without going to space. 

 

We stayed in the water for about an hour. Namoi was the first one to get out. She couldn’t go one hour without checking her phone. But even though we were alone, I felt safe we had someone to guard the rest of our belongings. I for one was happy we were alone. But I could see that Greg was a bit disappointed in that. Greg is an athlete, and not a moment goes by when he doesn’t want to impress a girl with his trained body. Instead of impressing random girls, he decided to impress us with his football skills. Jake and I were anything but athletic. I surfed, but not enough to get a killer physique from it. And Jake, well, Jake liked to spend his time doing yoga and meditating. He was fit, but he couldn’t care less about sports. It was a miracle that Greg even befriended the rest of us. In school, we were all in different social classes. Jake and I were considered to be part of the geeks. My interests were in movies, while Jake’s head was always buried in some book about philosophy or history. Naomi was a bit of a rebel that always hung around with the skaters. And Greg? Greg was a jock. We would have never if he wasn’t failing math. Our math teacher suggested for Jake to be his tutor and somehow they hit it off. And here we are, inseparable ever since. 

Greg picked a football from his backpack and threw it in Jakes direction. The only thing he did, was stare at it as it flew past his face. 

“C’mon Jake, at least make a little effort, will ya?”

Jake sighed and ran after the ball. This was Greg’s time to shine. He decided he was going to teach us some basic football. 

“Look, just hold the ball laces up with your middle finger off the top. Then place your ring finger between the second and third laces and your pinky between the fourth and fifth. And wrap your thumb around the ball.”

Greg ran towards Jake and showed how it was done. He grabbed the ball with two hands, took two steps back and raised the ball to neck level. 

“Always keep a firm grip on the ball, like this.”

He bent his knees slightly and brought the ball over his head

“Hey Eric, think fast!”

Before I knew what was happening, I saw a football flying in my direction. Luckily I was blessed with good reflexes and I was able to catch the ball. I couldn’t help but fall on the sand, holding the ball tightly against my chest. From a distance I could hear Greg say something to Jake:

“And that’s how it’s done. Easy peasy.”

A little heads up would have been nice, but I was still in shock I was able to catch it. 

“Nice catch,” Naomi said before she brought her attention back to her phone.

Thank God she saw I caught it. I couldn’t imagine how she would react if I missed, or if it flew right in my face. 

We wanted to end this day with a bonfire. There was enough driftwood we would use to start a fire. It took Greg and Jake about twenty minutes to get the fire started. I offered them a lighter, but they insisted on doing it the old-fashioned way. I figured to let them do all the hard work. If it wasn’t for Jake’s everlasting patience, I’m sure Greg would have accepted some kind of help already. 

“Naomi, mind giving me a hand?”

I loved spending time with Naomi, especially if it was just the two of us. Let them deal with the fire, while I took the opportunity to be with her. We walked back up the steep dunes to get back to the car. We had packed enough beer to hold a frat party, but it was only the four of us. 

 

The sun was reddening and soon it would be night. As dusk started to fall over us, we started roasting marshmallows over the raging fire. Right until the moment Jake suggested we all went skinny-dipping. He had a thing of feeling free in nature. Whenever we went camping, he would always sleep outside, while the rest of us enjoyed the comfort of a tent. After a few beers, just enough for him to get tipsy, he wanted to experience full freedom. And that meant releasing the shackles of what we call clothes. A part of me wanted to do it, only if Naomi joined in, and if the rest of the guys wasn’t here. Even after a few beers, I still felt embarrassed to take off my clothes in front of her. Jake already had his hands on his shorts, ready to take them off, before Greg stopped him.

“Don’t even think about it man, no one wants to see your skinny ass. Keep those pants on, you hear me!”

For a moment, I was sure Greg would have joined him. But then I realised he didn’t do anything like that if there wasn’t a female crowd to adore him. 

With a flourish of romance, the sunset blossomed red and gold. I moved a little closer next to Naomi, who was still preoccupied with her Instagram. I didn’t get why people were so obsessed with it, but on the other hand, I was the same with Youtube. But I always used it as a means to get my movies across, that’s what got me into Los Angeles Film School. While she was liking every picture she came across, I seized the moment to get closer, unnoticed. For as long as I can remember, I had a little crush on Naomi, but I was always too afraid to act on it. After all, I was a geek and she hung out with the toughest kids in school. If I ever told her how I felt about her, I fear it might cost us our friendship. For me, that’s too precious to give up on. Falling in love with her was the easy part, but admitting to myself that it might be one-sided, that was hard. I wanted to keep her in my life, even if we only stayed close friends.

 

From nowhere came the sound of an old-fashioned telephone. It was so authentic that Naomi stopped scrolling her Instagram feed. She scanned the area to look for the source, something that wouldn’t look out of place in an old movie. 

“Why don’t you change that ringtone, Eric?” Jake said.

“It kinda makes you look like a dork,” Greg added to that. 

“I kinda like it, it makes me think of old times.”

I tried justifying my choice in ringtone, but the truth is that I was just too lazy to change it. By now, I have gotten so used to it, that it became a part of me. I saw a picture of my mom appear on the screen and wondered why she was calling me this late. Usually, she’s already asleep at this hour. I swiped my finger to the right and answered the phone. Before I could even say anything, I heard my mom sobbing on the other end of the line. 

“Mom? What’s wrong?”

“Eric, it’s your dad, he’s…he’s dead.”


Submitted: April 17, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Nick Van loy. All rights reserved.

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