There were a few grey clouds on the horizon, but they posed no threat to us. Nothing threatened us that day but sunburn. Sori was prone to it because she had fair skin, but the rest of us turned warm shades of cinnamon. I liked to shower after a trip to the beach and rub cool aloe gel on my skin after the shower to set the tan.
That day was our day. It was two days before the last day of High School. It was graduation, and we were going to be free. I had plans to be a bartender but had to wait two more years before I could legally get into a bar. I loved mixing drinks. The people who drank my concoctions seemed to like them, and at our parties no one cared that I was underage. That Wednesday, I had made Madras and Screwdrivers: fruity, but strong.
We listened to each other crack jokes over the sound of the music. Sori headed into the water. The ocean swallowed her up and spit her up as she dove and then surfaced. She wanted her long brown hair to get streaks from the Sun. Big Marky watched her like he would watch his red Mustang. It was the tender gaze of admiration and caring. He loved her and it broke my heart. He was my friend. She was my friend, too. I knew her, and she was into other things. It hurt me to see him like that. I cared for him like a brother. My own family and I had grown distant over religious differences. With Sori, Big Marky, Gar and Lon, I could laugh, dance and sing to the Moon.
That day, Sori was wearing a black one-piece while I wore a black bikini. Goth girls like the beach, too. Marky leaned in close to share his secret with me that everyone already knew but Sori.
“Hey, Luly,” he said. “Does Sori like anyone?”
“Why?” I just wanted him to get it out. There was so much pressure built up into him that he was like a teakettle. I could almost hear his heart whistling.
“I like her,” he looked at his bare left foot where he had his mother’s name tattooed. There; it was out.
“I’m her best friend, so you’re asking me,” I said, but it was a question.
He picked up on my ambiguity because he knew me and my words. He was a careful friend who was sensitive. “Well, does she like anyone?”
“She’s not seeing anyone right now,” I said and watched his smile spread like dominoes falling over. That smile spread his face open. “Wait. Just wait dude. Your my friend, too. Do you want me to be honest?”
“Of course,” he said.
“Sori is into other things. I have Gar and my life is okay. Sori wants to go to college and get out of Little Havana. She studies all the time. Dude, she’ll break your heart,” I said and put my hand on his shoulder.
“But, she’s not seeing anyone, right?” he said.
“No but….” he cut me off.
“That means that there is hope,” he said. “There’s still a chance,” he said. He got up and ran into the water. I threw away this seashell that I had been holding to give to my mother. It had been the perfect seashell. I immediately found another better one. Big Marky ran into the waves crashing through them like a large bear. He jumped over each crest. I made myself another Madras. Marky dove beneath the water and then stood up with Sori on his shoulders. She hung on for a couple of seconds then fell off. Only Sori could do something like that gracefully. She immediately recovered and splashed water at him.
I felt familiar hands cover my eyes from behind me. It was Gar. I hugged him and he hugged me back. He took off his shirt and I eyed his caramel skin with glee. He was all mine. I poured him a Screwdriver with only a little bit of vodka because he didn’t like alcohol all that much. He took a sip and smiled. He put a new tape into the boombox to let me hear a new band. I wished myself into being happy for Big Marky. Maybe it would work out. That band was a little slow, but they had an incredible sound. “Louder than Love ” was the album.