They were at the beach again. A boy and a girl. They liked to skip stones together. This visit to the beach was special because she was going to skip a stone he gave to her years prior, one that they always said they would skip together. She was thinking about beaches, the one they were standing on, the kind made up wholly of rocks and stones. She wondered why there wasn’t a special name for this kind of beach. It wasn’t that they were better or worse than traditional beaches, the smooth, sand-covered kind, just different. They provided a different experience, one that was almost incomparable.
He was thinking about the coffee he made her one morning. The way she would adjust the cup slightly every time she put it down. He had enjoyed watching the slight movements of her fingers. He longed to feel her beneath his skin again.
He brought a disposable camera which he’d received as a birthday present a few years earlier. Recently, he’d been trying to use up the remaining film. Someone had told him it would degrade if he left it undeveloped too long and that when it was developed, his earliest shots would have a murky quality to them.
She points out a dried-up sea star on a rock far from the tideline. He tosses it back into the water without any hesitation. He likes to give them another chance sometimes, even if he feels like he’s not supposed to.
They find a place where the water is still enough. He takes a seat on a log near some trees and begins to direct her into the frame of his camera. She pulls their stone from her pocket and stretches her arms out; he places his finger on the little grey button. A startled thought as I look at the photo, at her, poised to throw, legs spread out, shoulder next to ear, her body, frozen. A startled thought as I become suddenly aware of my participation in an insincerity that existed between us. An insincerity which began with me apologizing over a stripped bed, with you telling me that you loved me. An insincerity made up of increasingly frequent interactions, not lies, necessarily, but mistruths. These mistruths and the apologetics that accompanied them became the language that stood between us. You have a way of infusing the benign with a sense of urgency, and I have a way of seeing past this. I wonder if I grew up falling in love with anybody at all or just a pair of crossed legs, pants tight to skin.