The Beach

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by Ryan Moreno on Unsplash

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It was later than I thought it would be when we finally made it to the beach.

Spending the day on the paddleboards was more tiring that I thought. My friend said he’d give us a ride in his boat, but we turned him down.

I was beginning to think that was a mistake, but, she seemed happy, so all was good. She always wanted to spend more time on them.

We lugged the boards up on the beach.

The isolated northern beach would be home for the next couple days.

I unstrapped the gear from the board and started setting up camp.

“This is amazing,” she said looking around.

She wasn’t wrong. It was perfect. It was a tiny beach in the Upper Peninsula. The only was to it was by boat. The waves lapped along the shore. The beach itself was maybe thirty yards long, and there wasn’t a soul for miles.

The woods were just beyond the sand, covered in full green foliage that the height of Summer brings. I found a relatively flat spot in the shade with no broken branches overhead.

“Do you want some help?” she asked.

“I got it,” I said setting up the tent.

“I’m going swimming then,” she said stripping off her sun shirt.

“Have fun.”

“Are you going to come?”

“In a minute.”

She jogged down to the water walking into the waves. I was too distracted to get back to what I was doing until she was underwater.

Within a few minutes the tent was set up. I put the rain fly up as well. It wasn’t supposed to rain but I’ve made that mistake before. While she was gone I took something out of my pocket and set it in the tent.

I gathered some downed wood. I used the fork of the tree next to me break the branch into smaller logs. Then, I felt the inside of the wood. It was just dry enough to make decent firewood. I dug a medium sized hole in the sand and line the bottom with branches, while I stacked kindling and some of the smaller logs on top of the base. Finally I pulled my swiss army knife out and shaved little pieces off one of a stick about as wide as my index finger, leaving the shaving attached. I laid the feathered piece of wood in the fire and touched the flame of my lighter to it.

Within a minute there was a nice blaze going and I felt comfortable it wouldn’t go out. I joined Cassie in the water.

“Took you long enough,” she said smiling.

“Well someone has to do a little work around here.”

“Oh am I working you too hard?”

“A little.”

“Well I’ll just have to make up for it later.”

“I’m going to hold you too that.”

“Good,” she said “I like to be held.” She was biting her lip, and I pulled her close.

I could taste the water on her lips.

We swam for a little while. Swimming was a nice way of putting it anyway. Mostly it was getting away from the heat.

The sun started going down.

“I’m hungry,” she said.

“Well let’s go I’ll make dinner.”

“What are we having?”

“I made a reservation at this 5 star restaurant. It’s right through the trees.”

“That would be awesome.”

“You’d probably have to put clothes on.”

“True,” she said, “let’s skip the restaurant then.”

“Good. I made it up anyway.”

“You did? I’m shocked. I thought you were serious,” she said trying not to laugh.

I put a put a pot in the fire and filled it with water. Before too long it was at a rolling boil, so I took it off the coals and poured the requisite amount of water into two Mountain house meals.

Cassie started eating, “My compliments to the chef.”

“I know right? Beats five star food any day.”

“Yes, you’re easily the best cook on the beach. Now you can start cooking at home.”

“We’ll see.”

She cuddle up next to me after we were done eating. I wrapped a blanket around our shoulders and we sat there looking at the stars. We were so far from any sitting the sky was a celestial art show.

“This is beautiful,” she said.

“I know.”

“I feel so small.”

“Right?”

“It’s like I’m just looking up and I feel like I can see the whole universe.”

“It’s something isn’t it?”

“We have to do this more often. I need to see this more.”

“I agree. We’ll make it a regular thing.”

“You sure you can keep up with the paddleboards?”

“I’m not going to complain about getting to spend all say watching you in a bathing suit.”

“I figured that might be the answer.”

We laid down in the sand. I held her close, and I just kept looking up at the sky.

“This is absolutely perfect,” I said.

“I know. I never want to leave.”

“Let’s just stay then.”

“God I want to. Let’s do it. No one will notice.”

“Don’t tempt me.”

I got up and walked to the tent and got the box from under my sleeping bag.

I sat down and showed her the box, “I couldn’t think of a better moment.”

“Oh my god. Oh my god,” she said shaking with excited.

I opened the box and her face sank.

“Honey?”

“What?”

“The box is empty.”

My heart sank, “Well, I was going to ask a different question. But now, would you mind helping me look for something?”

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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