“Well, I’m doing it.” Blake leaned over the fire, flames painting harsh shadows on his face. He pointed a crooked finger around the ring of friends. “Don’t any of you try to stop me.”
“And then, it was like BAM, and I was three fingers deep in a hole of bird shit, fifteen fucking feet above my last draw . . .” Blake’s words went unheard by Eric, who continued to gesture grandly with a half-empty bottle of Corner Creek bourbon.
“Ohh! Wow!” The two teenaged girls he had acquired somehow during the day were likewise ignorant to Blake’s proclamations, busy as they were with twirling their hair, sipping on their Smirnoffs, and blinking their heavy lashes.
Justin laughed twice, slowly, then tipped over backwards in his chair. “Huh. Dude.”
A few drunken hurrahs of support were thrown Blake’s way, some fists pumped the air, and then the parade of gestures, giggles, and swigs continued. Sitting quietly in the sand next to Chris, Kirin watched amused, wiggling her toes, eyes fixed on Blake as he tossed back the rest of his beer, threw the bottle into the sand, and deftly swiped the Corner Creek from Eric’s gesturing fist.
“I’m totally pumping out, and get to the next bolt and some fuck-head’s chopped it . . .” The bare-chested Casanova continued on unfazed. Blake was off and running across the sand, his long, low strides unaffected by beer or sand or the fact that as he ran he disrobed, throwing first his shirt, then his shorts into the darkness.
“I’m going,” my mom said, pushing herself up. Chris grabbed an extra beer and followed, walking behind as she sprinted off after Blake.
Like the foam on the surf they crashed, laughing and sputtering, bobbing and diving into the black waters. Chris lay back on his elbows in the sand, watching them blend bare and silver into the sea, losing their voices to its lull.
“Hey, you probably want to watch out for the dark spots. I hear that’s where sharks breed.” Blake waded waist deep in the water, arms spread out, fingers just kissing the inky surface. Kirin turned to look at him, at the moonlight tracing white lines into his sinewy shoulders and thick, veiny forearms, flecks of water like stars streaming down his hairless chest. “Thanks. I’ll be careful,” she said, smiling, then ducked silent into the water, leaving behind a milky stir that was soon swept away on the black back of the shifting sea.
Blake paused. Blinked. Waited ten seconds. Twenty. “Uhm. Kirinthia? Donde esta?” he asked first the blackness, then the glittering sky above, spinning in a slow circle. His eyes flicked about somewhat suspiciously. “Kir, you do realize that these are shark infest—” and at that moment he went under in a clumsy splash, choking on his last words and the breath that accompanied them, arms whipping the water to a jubilant froth.
Kir came up gasping for air, laughing as she struggled to complete her total submersion of the sputtering Blake. Regaining his feet from where she had pulled them, he lifted himself up, then grabbed her up like a baby and tossed her out into the ocean, yelling, “Off with you, evil woman!”
The two swam out, smiling and wet, their legs or arms brushing occasionally with slippery innocence. Out at sea the stars glowed brighter, painting their skin in perfect tones of blue.
Swimming at a slow breaststroke, her head above the water, Kir looked out at the gradated blue of the horizon, up at the winking sky, then turned to catch Blake’s eyes. “How far out do you think we can go?” she asked, smiling.
“I believe the question is ‘how far out do you think you can go?’ ” he retorted, grinning back, and dove dolphin-style into the gentle waves.
Back on the beach, Chris lay on his back, propped up on his elbows just enough to swill back his beer slowly, looking out unseeing into the vast blackness, his mind elsewhere.
“What do you, ah, what do you think would–”
“Yes, I do believe that if our extraterrestrial creators came back there would be mass hysteria and yes, most of our modern infrastructure—buildings, banks, even Starbucks—would burn BUT, and this is a big but Kir¬⎯”
“You fuck,” she smiled, treading water. “Hey, I bet you can’t touch the bottom.”
“One time this kid⎯you didn’t know him Kir, he was before your time⎯well, we were all out working this boulder late-night style, headlamps, whiskey, you know, basics covered. And he decides he’s going to do a little deep-water soloing. Right over there actually,” Blake nodded to indicate the shadow of a cliff half a mile down along the coast, “Never came back. But he was one of the locals, so no one really cared.”
“You ass. That’s a terrible story. Not to mention completely untrue.”
“Kirinthia, dear, if you keep on tossing these swear words around I’m going to report you to the authorities. You may receive up to a $150 fine.”
“Speaking of the authorities, I should probably get back to Chris. Or else he’s going to be all pissy. Or report me to the authorities.” She smiled just a bit, still treading water, and let her eyes linger on Blake’s shadowed face. “Ladies first,” he offered, and they began the slow and quiet swim back towards the beach, backstroking lazily, watching the stars make their way too quickly across the sky.