It was the kind of night neither of us could have expected, the result of coincidence and a thorough lack of planning. We were on that group trip to the seaside, had spent too many days in a row with people we had not chosen. We agreed it would be nice to get away. Silently agreed, I suppose, that if we’d had it, our choice would have been one another. We slipped into the summer night, heavy with salt, walked along the shore and turned at the rock wall where the waves crashed and shot foam high into the air, where it shone, pure white, in the light of the full, heavy moon that had just begun to hoist itself above the horizon.
Crossing the quiet streets of that small town, we chatted like the just-getting-to-know-you friends we were, separately realizing, we would later admit to one another, that maybe, just maybe, this would be something more. In the distance, the lights of the carnival were flashing, and your perfect smile reflected them, your face alternately blue, green, red, yellow, as the games competed for attention.
We arrived, raced from ride to ride, spent money on games both of us had already been taught, statistically, we could not win. When you did, you gave me a stuffed penguin, and we laughed at our overpriced educations. It was dizzying in all the best ways, bright lights and the smell of sugar, air spun and deep fried. Your hand on the small of my back as I attempted, in vain, to knock down milk cans older than either of us. Most of it, now, is a blur, but I remember one moment perfectly: you making me laugh so hard I stopped dead in my tracks, one hand on my stomach, the other on your arm, making you wait while, bent over, I caught my breath.
Later, lying on our backs on the sand next to that wall of rocks, I heard you inhale enough of that salty air to know you were about to speak. And after a pause long enough to make me doubt it, I heard you whisper, “it scares me, but I think I want to spend the rest of my life taking your breath away.” So, because that was more than I could ever have needed to hear from someone as perfect as you, I reached my hand out until I found yours, while the stars burned silently above us.