Amateur cartoonist and writer, actual architect, coffee lover, and professional et ceteratist. May contain offbeat cartoons, short stories, fan art, and/or platypuses. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as aarondoodles, and Tumblr at http://aarondoodles.tumblr.com/.
If you're a constant reader of my blog, you know that I like writing all types of genres, depending on my mood and what I've been writing and reading/watching lately. Most of you also probably know that my bother and (new) sister-in-law got married about a month ago. Congratulations Graham and Savanna! While they were on their honeymoon in North Carolina, I starting thinking about other not-so-romantic occasions to go to the beach. That led me to write this. I hope you like it!
"Vacation"- July 2010 Aaron Matthew Smith
“This place is beautiful,” Allison said, dropping her bags onto the carpet and crossing to the French doors at the end of the room. She swung them open, allowing a warm July breeze to sweep into the living room. The hiss of the tide seemed to relax her before it even reached her ears, as if it had magical properties that had nothing to do with water or sand.
Roger sat his own suitcase down and followed her out on the rough, wind-worn deck. The familiar smell of sand and fish touched his nose, and a sudden memory sprang to his mind. He shoved it away as quickly as it had come and walked back inside.
“We should probably get unpacked,” he said, worrying with the buckle on his bag. “We’ve got groceries, too. And I’m starved.”
“Oh yeah,” Allison said, walking back inside, leaving the door to the deck standing open. She wore a smile as if she had no other choice but to. “This place is just so… ah, it’s amazing!” She kicked her flip-flops off and walked to Roger. “Thanks so much for asking me to come with you.” She said, throwing her arms around his shoulders. The hug only lasted a moment before he broke it- he smiled crookedly at her for an awkward moment before going back to work on his suitcase.
“Hey, what do you want for dinner?” Allison said, ignoring the uncomfortable instant. The next week was bound to be full of them. She crossed the carpet onto the linoleum in the attached kitchen in bare feet, tossing her long, straight brown hair over her shoulders. Roger caught himself glancing at her yellow shorts before forcing himself back to the task at hand.
“Ah, those Italian sausages we got at the store looked good.”
“Oooh, yeah. Perfect. I’ll cook, you unpack.” Allison said. She glanced back at Roger, who was adjusting his glasses on his nose. He always did that when he was nervous. She smiled to herself and began to empty the grocery bags onto the countertop.
“No, no, seriously! She actually said, ‘It’s going to be my special day; you’re just the guest of honor’!” Roger laughed, spilling a little beer onto the wooden deck top. Allison choked for a moment on her sausage then joined in the laughter.
“Oh man, Roger.” She said, taking a sip of her own beer. “What did you ever see in her, anyway?”
Roger didn’t immediately respond. He leaned back in the hard wooden deck chair (the beach towel he’d draped across it did nothing to soften the rough surface) and stared out across the ocean. The sky was a perfect orange-pink color, the ocean beneath it like a dark blue line that stretched as far as he could see. Tiny whitecaps far out flickered the warm pink and orange hues; the sea sparkled a symphony of light and shadow, and for a moment he was lost in another memory.
The first time he and Jamie had come here seemed like a lifetime ago. Hell, it might as well have been. Four years is a long time. It was the first vacation either of them had taken with a significant other. Roger had paid for the entire thing out of pocket.
He suddenly remembered an incident on that trip- they’d driven around all night looking for a particular restaurant where Jamie wanted to eat. She was sure she’d seen it on their way in. When they were unable to find it, she’d gotten upset and they’d come back to the rental house empty-handed. Roger spent that night reading and drinking beer on a deck very much like this one.
“I don’t know,” he said softly.
Allison was quiet for a second, then said, “Hey, Rog, I’m… I’m sorry, that was out of line. I mean, you don’t need anyone asking you that right now. I…” she tried to form another sentence, but the beer muddled her thoughts. She cursed the two empty bottles next to her chair. After a moment, she gave up collecting her thoughts and said, “Just, sorry.”
“Naw, it’s okay…” Roger started, but let the sentence drift away with the tide. Allison dug into the cooler between them, fished out another beer, and handed it to Roger. He accepted it gratefully and twisted the cap off.
“I mean, you must’ve had some reason for staying with her for so long,” Allison just couldn’t help herself.
“Heh, I must have. And for asking her to marry me.” Roger replied.
“Well, there was that time you asked Crystal Hannigan to marry you,” Allison said. “And that was pretty serious, right?”
“We were in first grade, Allison.”
Allison shrugged. “She was a gold digger. She just wanted that sweet 72-count crayon box you had.” Roger snickered into his beer.
“But… I don’t know, things were great when it was just the two of us.” Roger said. “She just doesn’t know how to deal with people, that’s all.”
“She seemed to know how to deal with that sales rep just fine,” Allison said, then immediately regretted it. “Oh god, Roger, I—”
“Ha, that’s exactly what I thought when I found out.” He replied.
Allison bit her lip. “I’m sorry Rog. I’ve done nothing but stick my foot in my mouth since we got out of the car.”
“It’s okay Al, really. I’m not sensitive about it any more.” Roger lied.
“You big fat liar.” Allison said.
“Yeah, okay.” He had never been able to lie to Allison, ever since they were little kids. “But hey, the two of us got a good vacation out of the deal, huh?”
“The rental house was non-refundable,” she reminded him, picking up the plate from the deck and taking another bite of sausage. “I just love you too much to allow you to pay for the whole thing by yourself.”
The suddenness of the statement silenced Roger for a moment. Something cold flickered inside his chest, but he stuffed it back down. Jamie wasn’t there anymore. It was just him and his best friend, and a week of sun and sand and relaxation. He reached for the cooler to get a popsicle but almost yanked his hand back when he felt something slim and warm touch his hand.
He glanced up. Allison had reached into the cooler at the same moment he had, and before he realized it their fingers were twined together on top of the ice. He looked up into her familiar brown eyes; their glances met for only an instant before they both broke the gaze, glancing instead at the watercolor sunset that stretched endlessly before them. Their hands, however, didn’t move.