~ a story, in many parts ~
To feel the pull of destiny is to stop dead in your tracks, to have the world melt away into instinct and need. To understand our love, and our lives, is to know magic beyond even our comprehension.
It was a warm May day when Edwin and Santiago first saw the beach. Though they grew up only a few hours away, money was never easy for anyone in their neighborhood. Luxuries, like a long drive for a few hours of ocean fun, were frivolous and unnecessary and therefore never indulged.
At about 11am, three buses rolled up to the beach carrying many high school seniors having the same experience as the two best friends. Board shorts, back packs, and bikinis under over-sized t-shirts flooded the sand. Yelps and giggles filled the air. High schoolers acted like little kids, most having not felt such glee in as many years. They ran into the ocean and then promptly ran back out. They flung water on each other, on themselves, and dunked under the waves. The few that could swim feigned teaching the skill to others.
“We should get a house out here.”
“Shut the fuck up, Ed. Let go of your introspection for one afternoon.”
“I’m serious. We could split the rent, get a couple more friends to come in. We’d always be by the beach. By the water.”
“Yeah sure Ed. And we’d all live happily fucking after. Enjoy your pipe dreams. Im’ma go splash Jen over there and enjoy my now.”
Santiago ran off towards the pretty girl in his Trig class. Edwin staid stock still, feeling the Sun and the ocean breeze on his skin.
‘Why not live in paradise?’ he thought. ‘Rent is a little higher, but a home is a home.’
In his contemplative mood, Edwin knew he wouldn’t be any fun. He decided to wander down the beach and be in his thoughts for a few.
As he walked away from his friends, down the long shoreline, he began to feel a pull towards something. ‘Just bit farther,’ he thought. ‘I’ll go just a little more.’
Ed, past all of the beach crowd, was alone, though he could still see his friends about a football field away.
Just as suddenly as he had felt the pull to keep walking, Ed knew he should stop. He sat down in the sand where the water came up to his toes.
‘Who doesn’t want to live in paradise?’
Ed eased his hands into the sand, dug his fingers deep, and took a full breath. Closed his eyes. And felt movement under his left hand. Looking down, he brushed away a few particles and found something impossible underneath.
“How?” he said aloud, just as the heart leapt up, torn a hole in between his ribs, and entered his chest.
Santiago felt as if a knife had plunged into his chest; an urgency to run gripped him. He dashed his eyes down the beach and saw Ed seemingly passed out on the sand.
Santiago ran. He dodged his fellow classmates, who laughed and lunged out of his way.
Coming upon his friend, Santiago dropped down to his knees, shook Ed’s shoulders, screamed his friend’s name.
“Echo,” Edwin whispered as he came to.
“I, I’m fine San. I’m fine.”
Ed sat up, shook the sand from his hair, and brushed it off his skin.
“What the fuck!?!” Santiago saw a red mark over one of Ed’s left ribs. “What the hell is that?”
“San chill, it’s.” Edwin looked down at the new yet familiar scar. “It’s okay San.”
“What the fuck do you mean, “It’s okay”? Where did that come from?”
“I, I don’t know, but I know it’s, it’s okay. I’m okay.”
“Ed, you passed out on the beach. No one was looking for you. What if?”
Ed stood up. “Yeah, but I’m good now.” He turned and started walking.
“Where are you going?”
“To get some water. I probably keeled over because of the Sun. I’m just dehydrated is all.”
“Hey, come with me if you want, but I’m telling you I’m fine.”
“Yeah, I’ll come with.”
The two walked up the long slope to the water fountain just outside the bathrooms in the parking lot. Edwin took a long swig. Santiago followed suit. Then they went into the facilities. All the stalls were empty, doors in various angles of open.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Exasperated, Ed turned to his friend.
“Stop asking me if I’m okay.”
“Ed, but this.” Santiago ran his hand over the line of auburn colored flesh on Edwin’s chest. Both friends gasped and felt a twitch in their groins. Their eyes met. Heat rose up in their bodies.
They kissed, Santiago’s hand still cupping Edwin’s new scar.
They didn’t talk for the next four hours. They said nothing as they filled onto the bus, sat next to each other in the very back, and rode for three hours towards home. They both could taste the other on their lips, could feel the stickiness in their shorts, and the flecks drying in between their fingers. Each battled his own war to not touch the other as the bus bumped its way back to school.
Even as they rode in Ed’s car, neither said a word until they were back at Ed’s house, their usual afternoon routine.
“Are we gay? I didn’t think I was gay. I’ve been trying to fuck Jen for like a month.” Santiago paced a labyrinth into the carpet of Edwin’s basement bedroom. “What the fuck was that? Since when do we? We’ve never done. We’ve never talked about. How did we? What is going on?”
“San, slow down. Sit down.”
“How can you be so calm? We just, well it wasn’t fucking per se. Does jerking each other off count as fucking? Did you want to fuck me? Cause I think I wanted to fuck you. Do I still want to fuck you? Since when has fucking you even been an option? What the fuck is going on?”
“San, I don’t get it either, but we’re gonna to be okay.”
“How can you be so fucking calm? You got some weird scar at the beach and now we’ve both turned gay for each other. This isn’t normal, Ed. I gotta go.”
“I don’t know. I gotta walk, write, do something. My mind is all jumbled and being around you isn’t helping.”
“You still feel it.”
“I feel it too. San, I.”
“I’ll see you later, Ed.”
Santiago stopped at the bottom of the stairs. “I’m still going Jen’s party tonight. Just give me some time to think. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
Santiago ran up the stairs and out of Edwin’s sight. As Ed heard the back door close, he slumped down in his bed. Without his realizing it, he began to rub his new scar while stroking himself and thinking about his best friend.