I was small for my age at 15, as was my best friend Jamie however we couldn't have looked more different. Jamie had jet black hair and the biggest most beautiful pair of chestnut brown eyes I have ever seen on anyone, guy or girl. His full lips and wicked grin had been the object of my most ardent teenage desires for some time. I was a creature of a different mould, my body was slender and pale, with skin like mine even short exposures to the sun would leave me pulsing with a warm braised glow. My red hair was a source of amiable teasing from some of my classmates, but not Jamie, who's dark featured family had told him those with hair like mine had a feisty temperament and it wouldn't do to antagonise such passionate people. When he first told me this a couple of days after we had met at secondary school I promptly fell about laughing, explaining to his curious expression that if I did have a temper, I didn't think I had found it yet and as such I thought he was quite safe to have a laugh at my hair. His reaction seemed all the more profound, as it happened amidst the chaotic and noisy banter of the playground, with all the sincerity in the world shining from behind those beautiful brown eyes he reached up, and ran two fingers from the hair above my left eye, across the my head to curl an errant lock behind my left ear, and a whispered word almost too faint to hear “beautiful” thankfully carried away on a warm autumnal zephyr before any of our classmates could hear.
Over time I came to realise that this breathtaking sincerity was part of Jamie's make up, part of who he was and it made my dear best friend, all the more dear to me. When other kids in the playground didn't give compliments for fear of being branded a fag or queer Jamie took it all wonderfully in his stride with a confidence that often had him mistaken for a guy beyond our years. His compliments and kind words came easily, and felt as natural as waking up in the morning. As was the usual procedure we had been making plans one Wednesday at school during the lunch hour, of what terrible and grown up adventures we would be having the coming Saturday night (usually who could we bribe to pick up alcohol and cigarettes without telling our parents) After most of the day haggling we had decided that the easiest way to a parent free drinking binge would involve us, a tent, and a beach close to Jamie's house about 7 miles from my own. We each had a bag full of beers and Jamie had even managed to score some hash to smoke too, his friend Brent would also be joining us and would be supplying the music and fire lighters for our haute cuisine barbecue of sausages, burgers and toasted marshmallows.
The following Saturday night I timed my entrance perfectly, fashionably late, in fact so fashionably late that by the time I was unpacking my impressive haul of no less than 8 cans of lager, the barbecue was reaching a cooking temperature and the tent was up. We decided to get organised before we got too comfortable and so Jamie and I headed off to walk along the edge of the beach, back far enough from the shore line so that any driftwood we found would be dry enough to burn. Not being the most energetic teen, Brent mumbled about staying by the fire to make sure it didn't go out, and once we were out of earshot Jamie and I discussed his apparent low energy, and all round bad temper. After serious and heartfelt debate I decided that Brent was clearly going through the Manopause, a terrible affliction that only beer and badly told ghost stories could cure. Jamie had smoked some of the pot before I had arrived, and as a result upon hearing my mock diagnosis he burst into smoke fuelled giggles, rolling like a dog on the stony sand, begging me to stop lest he piss in his only clean pair of sweat pants. We drew the looks of some of the final walkers on the beach for the day, before the evening chill in the salt laden air drove them home to warmer past times for the rest of the night. A few I recognised, a few scowled at the badly behaved youths, clearly out without parental consent but I didn't care, and never did so long as my friend was happy, his childish incoherent laughter lighting me up inside as it always did.
It was so long before Jamie managed to compose him self that Brent was past the manopause by the time we managed to get back, when I asked him roughly how long the change of life took amidst the clatter of falling driftwood, Jamie collapsed into the tent in a second fit of giggles, although admittedly this one was a lot quieter as Jamie tried to spare our friend the knowledge we had been discussing him during our walk. As the evening wore on Brent complained a lot of food poisoning, this stemmed from first my, then Jamie and finally Brent's obvious lack of skill with the barbecue. When he finally gave up, slurring something on how “all we had to do was make the food hot, then we could eat it” there was an impressive pile of blackening cans nestled amongst the flames, like a clutch of colourful Phoenix Eggs. The beer had almost run out, and the flames were falling low in the fire pit which had been dug fresh for the evening. But despite a slowly advancing chill it was the one of the most comfortable and relaxed evenings I have ever had, I remember laying on my back in the sand with my feet dangling over the edge of the fire pit keeping the soles of my feet in a deliciously warm bath of heat. The night sky was starting to darken in earnest, with the North star having first been visible over an hour ago I was now treated to a blanket of twinkling possibility, stars and distance beyond my wildest imagination. A slender margin of the days turquoise sky still ran parallel to the horizon, within which there was still enough light to watch gulls swooping and playing along the surface of the water. The gentle lap of the Atlantic's perpetual waves felt like a smooth hypnosis, washing over body and mind alike, soothing in it's repetition. It soon held me in a torpor like state, not asleep or awake, but being pulled equally in either direction in my quiet contentment.
It was during this moments mental contemplation of the cosmos that the eloquent Brent chipped in, “It's fucking brass monkeys out here, I'm going to find a toilet, can't wipe my ass on sand” in the the twilight gloom there was the sound of him rise, fall, then rise and get a few steps before he tripped over a guy rope for the tent. Cursing he rose swiftly and didn't fall over again, (or if he did it was very quietly done to save his embarrassment.) The sound of his shuffling feet retreated quickly into the darkness of the beach, without street or porch lamps anywhere close our little fire was the only light in a very dark night, I added a couple of our claimed firewood logs to the flames, and asked Jamie if he had any more of the pot left, he replied in the affirmative and passed me the bag. “can you make it a strong one? I'm too stoned to roll!” At this a suitable number of minutes of hilarity ensued, with both of us bent double and gasping for breath by the end of it. Once I had composed myself once again I confirmed that yes, as he had been good enough to supply the weed I would be more than happy to help him smoke it, and that I also had a fun new way we could share the experience. This peaked Jamie's interest and he sat up with a curious look to see what I was about to do. Once I had rolled the joint I told him to move around the fire and sit next to me, I blew the cooling ash from the end of the spliff, opened my mouth wide and popped it in, hot end first. Jamie being Jamie was immediately concerned I was about to burn the inside of my mouth, I waved away his concern and instructed him in the art of the blow-back.
Soon after we both agreed on the awesomeness of the new method to getting high, and I asked Jamie to return the favour as I hadn't tried it on the other end of the spliff. Jamie was a little nervous about burning his mouth, but with a little cajoling decided to give it a go, he immediately missed his mouth and nearly stubbed the joint out on his lip. Taking pity I promised him it didn't matter and that he didn't need to try again, but he was determined. He decided we should try a different method, inhaling a large pull from the joint he beckoned me to come closer, face to face he used his left hand to pry open my lips and blow the smoke directly into my mouth. Not really expecting such an intimate and gentle gesture I coughed most of the smoke straight back out but Jamie had seen promise, asking if I wanted to try something he was sure would work. He shuffled next to me, so close I was sure he would hear my heart thundering in my chest like the footfall of a galloping racehorse. I was terrified by his closeness, I could feel the static on the surface of his exposed arm as the copper-ish hairs on my own arm stood on end, seeing the goosebumps raised on my arm he scooted even closer, either to warm me up or just to be closer, at this point I neither knew, nor cared.
I looked then, away from the fire into his beautiful, big brown eyes and saw an incandescence , a hungry look summoned to his face not by the reflection of the flames, but held there by every line and muscle, a slight puckering of the skin between his eyebrows and a determination set into the lines that seemed to wash away, spiralling out in circles from his full stubborn pouting mouth. His eyes were focused on mine and in a gentle gesture, reminiscent of another years previous he put has left hand on my face, cupping my cheek and gently pushing my mouth open with his sandy thumb. I hardly felt his hand upon my skin, I was absorbed totally in his eyes, as they moved closer his breath brushed against the skin of my top lip where my tongue flickered in an involuntary reflex. As he came so close my hand reached up to rest against his chest, entangling in his hoody and pulling him into contact with me. His lips found mine as his eyes whispered closed and the taste of him, of pot smoke and all the tastes in the air of the beach flooded my mouth like nothing else I had ever experienced. I dutifully inhaled all the smoke which he expelled and held it long after he had disengaged from our clinch/blow-back. Rolling onto my back in the sand in a pose part supplication, part bliss as the cloud issued from my lungs I heard him close by, not speaking or moving, but being close as if awaiting something. As I looked up into his face, him sat beside me with our feet dangling in the fire pit, I saw the mischievous grin which I had grown to know to be a sign of fun times ahead. I raised myself to a sitting position, and looked him in the eye for a long moment. He sighed a long sigh, the saddest sound I think I ever heard before he asked me if I was ok, I reached for his hand, giggling slightly and replied yes, I think so but that if I ever wanted to have so much fun drinking and smoking pot again I would have to call him up to give me a proper “blowie” needless to say we both laughed for a long time, but never shared the experience again. Brent didn't return till the morning, having decided in his wisdom that he had a bed 15 minutes walk away, or a cold tent on the beach, 25 minutes walk away I think he made the right decision, and I am glad he did. In time, after the weekend at the beach I found Jamie growing distant from me in school, and at home. It was as if his warmth was receding until now, when we are as strangers. I don't know if Jamie is gay like I am, maybe he is but won't admit it, and maybe he's not but one night on a beach he was a little curious. I don't judge him for any of these scenarios but would like him to know I still think of him often, my first kiss and what I like to think of as a doorway to the rest of my life. Jamie, I love you, and so long as there are beaches and weed, I'm pretty sure I always will.xx
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