Tower 42 (short story)

I came home with dinosaurs in my pants. Well not dinosaurs really, but small pieces of them, worn down by waves and water. Sand always finds a way of getting into your pants. No matter how you sit or stand, you end up going home with a small pile in your pocket or underwear, an uncomfortable reminder of the previous events.

I liked his beard and the beer he gave me, he liked my perfume. He wore plaid and cut off denim, the kind of shirt you want to hug for comfort. He was here for a week, me, a lifetime. When the group moved, we followed, trying to avoid the magnetic pull of our hands to touch. I pulled away.

We ended up on the beach. We were in San Diego so it was inevitable. We listened to the sound of waves and kept watch over our friends becoming better acquainted on the lifeguard stand.

“Do you want to sit down?” he said starring ahead.

I ran sand between my fingers, feeling it stick in the crevices and palms of my hands, coating my skin.

“Does she do this often?” he asked.

“Do what?”

“You know, this.”

“You mean kiss people? I’m not sure.”

But I was sure. This was the fifth guy she had taken to that stand in the past two weeks. Tower 42.

Here I was again, chatting with the friend. Conversation was always the same- words like napkins on your lap and stories like introductions, polite and empty.

“Young love.” I laughed looking at my friend’s legs knit around a man’s waist.

“It’s a choice you know, to love someone”

“I don’t think of it that way.”

“Everyday we wake up. Everyday we choose.”

We sat there starring ahead, our minds replaying a scenario we wanted to happen, both silent to that pull. Like the waves our chances came and went, so we talked.

Religion. Relationships. Sex and the absence of it. Running. Swimming. Pizza toppings.

“I was saving for a ring.”

“For who?”

“We were coming up on two years. I was ready. We talked about it a lot.”

“What changed?”

“Nothing. She was never ready, never really wanted it. She just forgot to tell me.”

“She’s stupid.” I whispered before saying “I have never been in love.”

“That’s your choice.”

They were empty phrases really, backed by the fear that comes with new people, new connections, and new feelings. I felt it in his eyes. They were the color of Earth.

I felt the stories he told me, ones of dreams he let slip away like sand. Little pieces left to remind him of their deference.

I saw his hesitation.

“I think you should start dating again.”

“You do?”

“I do.”

I looked in him as I said this. I could hear it.

I do. I do. I do.

I was choosing like he said, but it had happened before it had been conscious. It had happened without me knowing and that is what he didn’t understand. To recognize love, that is a choice. To love and be loved, that was involuntary as a breath.

“Take me.”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay.”

It was one arch of a wave and it was one retreat. The water is dragged away from the shore, reaching higher and farther, trying to hold on for a moment longer. It is inevitable though. It is an ebb and flow, and it is continuous. I watched as the waves left their shadow behind.

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