27 Years Ago…
The Boy took another drag on his cigarette and let the smoke fill his lungs.
“Seriously man, we’re gonna be late to biology. ” his friend protested, digging through his school bag.
Glancing over, The Boy rolled his eyes to heaven – so what if they were late, it was only school.
“Jesus Christ, Gil – what’s your issue? When did you turn into such a swot?”
Gil Hart kicked the ground and shrugged his shoulders, he was a skinny boy and small for his 17 years. “I just want to do well…” he muttered, avoiding his friend’s accusatory eyes.
“Pah,” The Boy mocked, “You still think you’re gonna be a doctor?”
“I am going to be a doctor.”
“I thought I’d find you two here,” the voice of head teacher Ronald Mason caused Gil to jump, The Boy snorted and hid the lit cigarette behind his muscular back.
“Are you smoking?”
Gil immediately began to shake his head and The Boy couldn’t help but feel irritation rising from within at his friend’s obvious submission.
“So what If I am?” The Boy protested, a mean smirk playing on his lips, “I’m not on school property -” he gestured to the run down house in which he was stood, “you can’t do anything about it. ”
Ronald Mason’s eyes narrowed and he regarded The Boy with reproach, “I think you’ll find, Mr. Black, that you’re wrong, and furthermore you’ll be punished.”
“So punish me,” Curtis Black smirked, “Suspend me, expel me. Do I look like I care?”
Curtis gestured to his face – his lack of concern.
“Oh,” Ronald Mason smiled, “You’ll get worse than that -much worse.”
“Are you sure you don’t want a drive home?” Dad asks me again and I shake my head, Maya’s small hand is lightly touching my own, whether on purpose or accidentally I can’t be sure but I get the distinct impression she doesn’t want me to go – not yet.
“OK kiddo,” Dad starts the engine to our beat up old car; it looks remarkably out of place parked outside the stunning manor house and gardens. “Don’t be too late,” he winks at me and I look at my feet as he drives away, the exhaust of the car popping and rattling all the while.
Glancing around me, it seems as though Alf has retreated in doors – the sun is setting and hazy autumnal sunshine illuminates the area.
“Shall we go for a walk?” Maya asks me, slipping her arm around mine and holding it close.
“Sure,” I smile at her.
We walk away from the house and down the hill, heading towards the foreshore.
Maybury village lies on the coast – it’s too small to feel touristy and therefore has retained most of its natural beauty and charm.
We approach a large boulder and sit for a few moments, starring out to sea. The water is blue-grey and choppy, it sloshes and hisses over pebbles and weeds – tossing buoys and crab boxes together brutally.
“Do you ever feel… small?” Maya asks me, her eyes on the ocean.
“What do you mean?” I turn to her.
Maya frowns, “Like, we – as humans think we’re so powerful because we crush everything we come across… but then… mother nature – she can take it all away…”
I turn to the sea and watch a flock of gulls skimming the water, a few land on the waves and are rocked and swayed by the turbulent current.
“I suppose I do,” I reply.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives,” Maya goes on, “We forget how little we are… how little we matter.”
“Do you think we matter?” Maya turns to me, ” Because I’m not sure. How many people do you think would think of you if you died?”
I frown, unsure where this conversation is heading. “I don’t know…”
“Right now?” Maya searches my eyes, “A lot,” she says, “2 years from now? A few… 10 years from now? Probably your family… me maybe…”
I narrow my eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Maya turns away, starring at the floor.
“What’s this about?” I ask her, ducking in front of her and placing my hands on her knees.
Maya stares down at me.
“I’m not usually like this,” her eyes are full of tears, “I don’t usually talk to people about this stuff. ”
“It’s OK,” I say with a small smile, “You can talk to me if you want to, but I won’t force you.”
“It’s my aunt,” she says, swiping at her hair which has caught in her mouth, “she died… they say I look a lot like her and it upsets me to think I’ll never meet her-she drowned. When I saw you down at the lake that day, I’d come down to see her… to talk to her…” Maya closes her eyes and shakes her head. “I sound like a crazy person…”
I decide there’s no point in arguing. I hadn’t bargained on this girl opening up to me. I hadn’t a clue she felt this way, so deeply.
“My mum goes weird this time of year,” Maya continues, “she usually goes away and dad’s always unpredictable too.”
“That’s understandable,” I give her knee a small squeeze.
Maya laughs, and a tear trickles down her flushed cheek.
“Crap, I’m sorry! Look at me, you must think I’m totally fucked up!”
I shake my head, “Not at all.”
“I didn’t come down here to bare my soul.” Maya says, starring into my eyes, she stands up and looks down at me – I can tell she wants to jump off the boulder but is afraid of the height.
I open my arms to her, “Jump,” I instruct, “I’ll catch you.”
Maya smiles and cocks an eyebrow at me.
“Come on,” I smile, “I promise…”
“I’ll catch you.”
Maya jumps, and true to my word she lands in my outstretched arms.
I hold her there for a few moments, my heart thumps in my chest, pounding in my ears and warming my body.
I stare at her, into the pools of her bright amber eyes and I search her face as I lower her to the floor. I take in her hair, her freckles, her long slender nose and my eyes fall to her mouth.
I bite my lip and brush her hair from her face, and then I kiss her.