A Sea of Clouds and a Word Scrawled Sky
The wind bellowed in our ears and the sea became a writhing, nautical beast. Michael and I had decided to go on a fishing trip in Barry. But we’d experienced no luck and our fingers had turned bluer than some of Michael’s favorite movies.
‘Screw it.’ Michael placed his rod on the rocky ground.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
He picked up a large stick and wandered towards the waves. Then he stopped just in front of the crashing tide, raised the stick above his head and roared like King Leonidas assembling his soldiers.
‘You’re nuts,’ I said.
‘This is Nature,’ he shouted over the fierce wind.
‘Yeah, it sucks!’ I laughed. ‘Come on, Mike, you’re not parting any waves today.’
‘Forget all the so-called immortal gods that clutter the graveyards of worship. This is the only thing we have to fear.’
‘Um, mate, you’re acting pretty weird…’
‘We rarely take note of the power of Nature. But look at that writhing sea; it’s fucking beautiful, dude. You should remember moments like this, when you’re staring into eternity. You won’t see those moments when you’re dead. It makes you think…’
‘Dreams. Just look ahead and think of your dreams, your wishes, everything you aspire to. Are you gonna cross that metaphorical tide, or will you let it wash over you?’
Hissing spray sought the air as the waves crashed against the shore, edging closer to Michael. A mist rapidly descended, resembling a sea of clouds. I thought about my dreams, the incoming tide and the girl I loved.
Michael threw his stick into the water and watched as it slowly drifted out of reach.
‘C’mon, let’s go home. I’m fucking freezing!’ he said.
Head over heels and all that jazz. I’d fallen for Lisa. I couldn’t sleep at night because I didn’t want to stop thinking about her, and each morning I couldn’t wait to go to college just so I could see her, smell her strawberry fragrance. But it’s hard to sustain a conversation with a girl when all you want to do is seal her lips with a kiss, when even the slightest touch makes you fantasize about having awesome sex for hours on end… She said she’d always seen me as a friend. It was prom night all over again. I knew we’d be good together, if only she’d give us a go.
‘Why not give us a chance?’ I asked her as a crowd of students filed past us in the main college hall.
‘Don’t put me on the spot!’ She avoided my gaze and giggled.
‘Take the tide by the flood. What’s there to lose?’
‘It could compromise our friendship for starters. I just don’t know…’
‘We’ll both regret never knowing.’
‘You can’t sample everything in life, Dan. Don’t look at me like that! Be a happy bunny.’
‘Please, open your eyes.’ I clasped her hand in mine for a moment, and then joined the crowd.
Lisa and I went on a college trip a few days later to see a play written by Anton Chekhov, called The Seagull. Thirty other students joined us on the coach to Bristol. Michael couldn’t go because he didn’t feel well (he was hungover). Everyone enjoyed the play, but I kept my eyes on Lisa all the way through the performance. We didn’t get back to college until eleven in the evening. Lisa and I ran through the silver rain, giggling uncontrollably, until we found cover. She looked gorgeous. There was wet in her hair and her wide green eyes sparkled like fireflies in the dark.
‘You’re right, y’ know. We wouldn’t work as a couple. We’ll just stay as friends.’ I wiped a raindrop from her cheek.
‘Given up on me, have you?’ She grinned.
‘Yes,’ I lied.
‘That’s a shame.’
‘It certainly is. But it’s your loss. Now you’ll never know how good a kisser I am!’ I chuckled.
She edged her face so close to mine that our noses brushed together. And then we kissed. Time stopped, but the rain still lashed down and the wind swept litter through the air. I brushed her wet hair away from her forehead and whispered in her ear.
‘Taken at the flood.’
‘I realized I liked you when I first saw you again, when you were walking through the college corridors thinking you were James Dean.’
‘You didn’t show it,’ I said.
‘I worry you’ll get bored of being with me, and we won’t be friends anymore.’ She gave me a searching look.
I’d never get bored of Lisa. That moment was heaven, knowing she was mine and that she cared for me. You always remember the small details of first love: a tone of voice, a special smile or the sound of laughter. I knew she hid her insecurities under a confident façade, and she needed me to look after her.
Michael was relieved when he discovered Lisa and I had gotten together.
‘I could tell you were obsessed with her.’ He poked me in the ribs.
‘You practically drooled over her. It was embarrassing. Niagara falls - that’s not cool.’
I laughed. The three of us were good together, and Michael would never feel like a third wheel because relationships were anathema to him. He would always be there for us, but he’d also leave us alone when he thought we needed ‘couply time.’ He had everything you could wish for in a friend.
Lisa had developed a strange complex about pavement cracks. She believed it was bad luck to stand on them, so we spent a lot of time zigzagging across pavements until we rested under the shade of the warehouse in my old neighborhood. ‘What do you really wanna do when you’re grown up?’ she asked, cwtching me.
‘Grown up? You make us sound like little kids.’
‘We’re still kids really. So, answer the question.’
‘Well, you must know. It’s all Michael and I ever talk about. I wanna go into acting and writing. As clichéd as it sounds, I’d like to be famous.’
‘And do you think you will be?’
‘Yeah, I do. I can’t imagine it not happening, to be honest.’
‘I think you’ll make it.’ She nibbled one of my earlobes. ‘So would you describe yourself as a tits or arse kinda guy?’
‘I dunno! Bit random!’ I laughed. ‘Sometimes I would describe myself as an arse man, but I go through stages of loving boobs… I couldn’t possibly say if I prefer your boobs or your bum. Depends on what season of the year it is, I suppose.’
‘Indeed.’ Lisa grinned.
‘But your eyes are my favorite part of you. You have incredible eyes.’
‘So… What would you say your favorite part of me is?’
‘Ah, you were expecting me to reply. Quid pro quo. Sorry!’
‘No, no. Just…’
‘It’s your smile. It’s lush. Whenever you smile it makes me smile too. So, why would you like to be famous? Is it for the money?’
‘No, but that would be a nice bonus.’
‘Is it for the women chanting your name?’
‘Um, no…’ I grinned.
‘Is it because you’re vain and you want to see your face in magazines every day?’
‘Nah. That’s just superficial. I want people to remember me long after I’m gone. I want my name to stand out. I think that’s our purpose in life: to be remembered.’
‘How are you gonna manage all that?’ She kissed me on both corners of my lips.
‘By making the most of life,’ I said. ‘And letting life make the most of me.’
‘That’s very philosophical of you. Now let’s talk about tits and arses again.’
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