(This month's writing prompt was this picture.)
Dusk came quickly on the coast. In a few brief minutes, the brilliance of the sunset bathed the shores and the houses lining it in a golden radiance that rivaled Heaven itself. Just as quickly, the awe-inspiring display of light would disappear with only the final dying embers of the sun dancing off the waves, reflecting for moments before being snuffed out by the twilight. The salt-infused air of the sea mingled with the breeze carrying the waves inland to cool the cobblestones that had soaked up the warm rays of the sun a few scant hours prior.
The party had been planned for months. It was one last hurrah for the graduating class of this small coastal town before everyone dispersed and disappeared into the larger world. Some already had plans of joining the military while others would pick up family trades of fishing and sailing. Those not wanting to stay bound to their place of birth sought out fortune and fame in the world beyond the bay.
James had his mind on the future, but one more immediate that what most others dreamt of. For years, he had pined after Aliah. They had grown up together, much like everyone else born to the village. And when she had split up with her beau of many years, James finally mustered all his courage and asked her out. Well…it stammered out of him. But that was beside the point.
Tonight, that beautiful girl walked casually next to him. The first silver strands of the rising moon’s light lit up her hair, painting it in vivid streaks of color. Equal shades pink, magenta, lavender, and indigo danced in the light of the night sky. She walked with a rhythm befitting a dancer, aided by the song in her heart which was fed through ornately decorated headphones which seemed permanently attached to her ears.
Through half closed eyes, she allowed herself to be guided along the sidewalk to the party. Her delicate fingers intertwined with James’ sweaty hand. If she even noticed, she gave no hint that she minded. The two of them walked under the gentle hum of street lamps, very much in between two worlds. The bay stood in a cold beauty with azure waves rolling under the clouds of twilight while the coastal village stood in contrast with the warm glow of lights from houses spilling into narrow streets. While his heart hammered in beat with Aliah’s song, James couldn't help but desire staying in this moment with her forever. Somewhere between the comfort of the past and terror of futures unknown, he found himself walking with the girl of his dreams.
As they approached the small, two story house, James could see their friends milling about in the narrow street separating the first block of homes from the docks. Everyone was in high spirits with drinks in hand and sporadic fireworks going off overhead. Conversation and laughter flowed easily as the couple blended into the crowd within the house.
As the energy of the crowd swept over them and the music beat through them, James found his grip on that slender hand break free. Turning his full attention to her, the room full of people fell away. Her body turned and swayed to music. As if possessed, her hips gyrated as her hands reached to the skies above. Just as it had many times before, the love-struck boy’s jaw fell slack at the raw beauty of this girl. She was in a world of her own and he was fortunate enough to simply be a witness.
As the final notes gave way to the stringing chords of a new melody, her glacial blue eyes found his of amber. She giggled at his dumbstruck face. At this, he snapped out of his stupor. Shouting a little too loudly over the crowd, he asked “Drink!?”
A dozen or so of his peers turned to him and he could feel his cheeks burn up worse than anything the sun had given him. Looking at her once more, her smile erased any embarrassment before he turned away to finds drinks.
Along the way to the kitchen in the back of the house, James ran into a group of his friends. The reminisced briefly about their years in school together and talked about getting together next week. They had promised to stay in touch with one another. While James wanted to stay and swap a few more tales, he found himself wanting a dance with the most beautiful girl he knew. Tearing himself away from his friends, he grabbed two bottles from the fridge and worked back to the great room.
The cool of the green glass ebbed into his once sweaty palms. The bottles clinked as he made his way between the now more densely packed bodies. Finally getting back into the room, he found his heart plummet through his gut, past his knees, and into the core of the earth. There, it lit up with the fury of the molten core.
Dancing with Aliah was her former lover. His large hands roughly gripped her hips while her own fingers interlaced around the back of his neck. Looking around in disbelief, James found his rival’s group of friends behind him, laughing hysterically. In a terrible moment of realization, James found himself threatening to lose control. She hadn't been giggling at his plain adoration of him. She hadn't been smiling at his overly loud act of kindness. She had been looking past him to the one that truly held her heart. He had only been there long enough for her to realize what she truly wanted.
The bottles, slick with condensation, fell from his trembling fingers before he shoved his way past the throngs of people and out the front door. The cool rush of the night air filled his lungs as he let loose a scream in the alley next to the house. A startled tom cat bolted across the top of the high wooden fence. James’ outburst turned into fists pummeling the fence with raw and bleeding knuckles.
With his rage subsiding and shock setting in, James turned to the docks. The smell of the sea filled his nostrils and he let the rocking of the waves soothe away the hurt much like his mother always had. He could hear the sounds of the party behind him, but he couldn't stand to turn around and look.
After several minutes of no one coming to check on him, his heart found a place lower than the center of the Earth. It was as if it had been swallowed up by a black hole and was being torn asunder.
Reaching into his pocket, he fished out the condom he had been holding onto for months now. He tore open the thin package and dejectedly stared at the thin membrane swaying in the breeze. Bringing it to his lips, he blew several large breaths into the rubber, making a balloon large enough to hold a watermelon. Letting the end go, it farted and fluttered away before hitting the surface of the water. It looked like a pathetic jellyfish as it slinked along the ridges of the waves. With eyes focused on nothing at all and a voice full of defeat, James muttered to himself “…idiot.”