His hand comes to rest on my shoulder. You’re the only one I’m concerned with.
I’m out of the car before the engine’s off. The water is just a short walk downhill and then across the sand.Olly trails a distance behind me.
It’s bluer, bigger, more turbulent than I’d imagined. Wind lifts my hair, scrubs sand and salt against my skin, invades my nose. I wait until I’m down the hill to take off my shoes. I roll my jeans up as far as they’ll go. The sand is hot and dry and loose. It waterfalls over my feet and slips through my toes.As I get closer to the water, the sand changes. Now it sticks to my feet, coating them like a second skin. At the water’s edge, it changes again and becomes a liquid velvet. My feet leave impressions in this softer mix.Finally, my feet are in the surging water, and then my ankles are, and then my calves. I don’t stop moving until the water is up to my knees and soaks my jeans.
Be careful, Olly calls out from somewhere behind me.I’m not sure what that means in this context. Be careful because I may drown? Be careful I may get sick? Be careful, because once you become a part of the world it becomes a part of you, too?
Because there’s no denying it now. I’m in the world.
And, too, the world is in me.I take a minute to survey her. She’s petite, just like I imagined her. Brunette. Big blue eyes whose gaze drifts between mine and the floor as if she doesn’t know where to look. There must be some goddamn mistake, because there’s no way she’d need any help attracting a man. But if it’s my help she wants, I won’t refuse her.
May I? I ask, pulling out the seat next to her and moving toward it. She’s timid, and I need to remember my manners.Please, she says. I’m Brielle.
Everyone calls me Brie, though. She twists her hands in her lap.Sweetheart? I say, and her gaze darts up to mine. I said no names.