In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Discover Challenge: Shared Journeys, and also inspired by Pablo Neruda’s Night on the Island.
“Walk with me?”
She startled and turned to look at him. When did he sneak up behind her? She looked back at her friends who were milling on the beach around the barbeque pit. Someone had a guitar out, strumming the chords to Extreme’s More Than Words. Everyone seemed preoccupied, unlikely that she’ll be missed.
She got up from the log she was sitting on and glanced at the hand that he reached for her. “Sure,” she replied. She clasped both her hands behind her back and started walking. He looked at her retreating back, dropped his hand and followed her.
“Where shall we go?”
“Let’s just walk and see where this stretch of the beach leads us.”
Her feet faltered. She was afraid. A little bit.
“Don’t worry, I just want to talk.”
“Okay, just talk.”
They continued in silence, the sounds of raucous guitar playing growing fainter as they moved away from their friends. The wind felt cool and she closed her eyes, letting it caress her face. She stopped, feeling the sand beneath her feet. My feet will be silky smooth with all this walking on the beach, she smiled to herself at the thought.
He’d stopped walking too. She looked at him and he was staring back. Though it was dark, she saw yearning, clear as glass, in his gaze. It made her heart clench. She didn’t know how to respond to yearning. Was she supposed to yearn back? And when both yearned – was that then love?
She resumed walking. So did he. With every step, he moved a thread closer to her until their hands brushed. She refrained from jerking her hand away, trying to feel pleasure in fingers mingling with other fingers. All she felt was anxiety. She adjusted her steps.
Soon, they found themselves at a jetty that was close to one of the more budget-friendly resorts that consisted of wooden houses on stilts, situated among the swaying coconut trees.
“What about sitting at the jetty?” he asked, pointing to the wooden structure that emerged from around the bend.
“Okay, hope there’s no mosquitoes.” Maybe if she made jokes, their talk won’t be serious.
“I’ll chase them away from you. I’ll make sure they won’t bite,” he responded seriously. She gulped. That was not the reply she’d wanted to hear.
She started to kneel down to brush the sand from the jetty but he bent down first and cleared the sand and waited for her to sit. She looked at him and rewarded him with a tremulous smile, “Thanks.”
“Anytime,” he said and brushed sand from the spot he’d chosen to sit, which was too close to her. She scooted a little away.
Normally, she liked silences but not this one. This silence was prickly and she didn’t want to be bloodied by it. “So…,” she started.
“I like you.” No hesitation in his words. “I like you very much.”
She wasn’t surprised at the words, only that he’d chosen a moonlit night on an island to declare this to her. It was romantic but she wasn’t looking for romance. She sighed and looked at him.
“I…I don’t know,” was all she could think of saying.
“Don’t you feel anything for me? I make you laugh. I look out for you. We’re together most of the time. Whenever I enter a room, I immediately search for you and I know you do that too. You must feel something for me,” he pleaded.
“I do feel close to you but I think it’s just as friends. I don’t know if it’s more than that. You make me nervous. If I felt more for you than just friendship, why would I be nervous?”
He smiled. “At least you admit that I make you nervous. That’s a good start. Nervous is good, I can work with nervous.”
She scoffed. “Good for you maybe, but not for me! I don’t like this feeling. It’s uncertain! I don’t know where it’s leading me!” She covered her face with her hands, suddenly feeling tired. The emotions overwhelming her. He was overwhelming her.
“Hey, hey…don’t…don’t cry,” he reached out for her hands.
When their hands touched, she felt a jolt. Her heart twisted. She looked at him and he stared back, his mouth slightly open. It felt as if her hands had found their home.