“In the instant that you love someone
In the second that the hammer hits
Reality runs up your spine
And the pieces finally fit”
- “The One”
I couldn’t fall asleep that night. I kept replaying what happened.
Before we got to Taylor’s car, Stephen had leaned over and kissed my cheek, my face flushed, and I was thankful it was dark. The entire ride back, Stephen held my hand, our fingers laced together, my head resting on his shoulder. When Sonja and Trevor were leaving, Stephen and I sat on the front steps looking up at the stars and the blinking lights from the airplanes.
“You really do amaze me you know.” he said softly.
“Why is that?”
“You can do everything, you’re so phenomenally talented.” I sighed and leaned into his arms.
“But...I can’t. I can’t do everything.”
“It seems like it.” he kissed the top of my head and said he needed to get home. His dad would be wondering where he was. Just like that, he was gone. I took a deep breath of salty air and headed inside.
I sat in my bed for a while, staring at the ceiling, but I couldn’t fall asleep, so I crept into the game room and started up the computer. I decided I was going to do a little searching. If Stephen were as famous as Evan claimed he was, I would be able to look him up. I checked my email first, surprised to see a few from Caitlin, and Kerry. I quickly skimmed over them, and after sending short replies about the wonderful time I was having, opened the browser and began my search. I knew his name was Stephen, but I didn’t know his last name, so I typed in a string of words: Stephen, Sting Ray, Surfing, Malibu, California.
The first ten results were articles from various newspaper articles and magazine spreads. A few even had pictures which I saved on a disk I decided to borrow from Evan. After scanning through the articles, learning he really was an incredible surfer, I kept scrolling down the search engine results.
“Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer.” was the title of one, and the link under it was a journal address. I clicked on it, even though I felt like I was invading someone’s privacy by following a link I was sure wasn’t really related to Stephen. When the journal opened, I found myself looking at a journal entry posted just a few hours earlier. The users name was StingRay19 and the icon on the side of the page was of a surfboard. I frowned, this was odd, and I had the feeling I shouldn’t be here. I sat simply looking at the monitor for a few moments, carefully debating in my head weather or not I should read. I finally came to the conclusion that since it was an online journal obviously this person had taken the chance that someone else would find it, so I scrolled to the top of the page, and began reading the entry dated from that evening.
title: I’ll only stand here, waiting for you
Today was an incredible day. I woke up very early this morning, earlier than usual, all because of her. It’s funny, that first day I met her, I knew she was special, but I never imagined how important she would become in my life in such a short period of time. I look forward, even more now to my morning surfs because I know she’ll be there, and we have perfect mornings just there on the beach. I can’t think of anything that would make me happier. Only, today when I got to the beach, she wasn’t there. I waited, and then I knew she wasn’t coming. At first, I was hurt, I didn’t know what to think. Had I said something, done something wrong? I decided to see if she had maybe just overslept, even though I knew that wouldn’t have happened. I walked to the back door and saw her Uncle in the kitchen. He let me in, and told me she was in the studio, that she was dancing, but I should go down and see her. I nodded, and thanked him. He’s really a great person, I don’t know anyone like him. I went down to where the studio was, and I just stood in the doorway, watching her. She is so beautiful, and in the early morning sunlight there she was, dancing with her eyes closed, like she were off in some other world. Like, nothing could bother her at all, and I knew I couldn’t make her stop, so I just watched her a bit and went back to the beach. When all the other beach people started to show up I just didn’t feel like being there, I wanted to think about things. I wanted to think about how special she is, how much she has in her that she doesn’t even know about.
I continued to scroll through the entry, as he talked about how he was thinking about this girl, which at this point I knew it was his journal and he was talking about me. I felt odd, knowing these things, like I was going through someone’s medicine cabinet. I kept reading all the same.
It’s Evan’s birthday and her Uncle had called and asked if I was going to come to dinner with them. He had mentioned that a certain lady that was staying with them was without a date for the evening, which of course made me want to go even more. Just knowing I would be her date made me happy, like we were going to a school dance or something cheesy. When I showed up, she was alone in the kitchen, just sitting there staring at the wall clock. She was so peaceful and calm I didn’t want to mess up the whole moment going on, but I had to. On the ride over to the restaurant she was singing, just there, in the car, with her uncle, like she was in some other place, completely unaware of the rest of the people in the car, and her voice is beautiful. She was embarrassed when she realized we were all watching her. Evan tried to get her to sing in the restaurant, but she wouldn’t do it, I think she was still embarrassed about the car. She just makes me forget everything bad about myself, she makes me want to hold her hand, just hold her. I can’t even imagine how I could live without her. I feel so strange writing that, because I never used to think people really needed anyone else, I always thought we were all just independent, and we fooled ourselves into thinking we had to rely on others.
Tears were crawling down my face. I had no idea he felt this strongly about me, and it scared me, and made me immensely happy all at once. After I read through the journals from the past week and a half, I felt so close to him, but I didn’t know how to tell him I knew. How could I just let him know, without scaring him or invading his privacy?
I was suddenly very thirsty, and grabbed a bottle of water, noticing a light on the back deck, I peeked around the door to see Taylor sitting there.
“Hey Uncle Tay.”
“Tiny Dancer, why aren’t you asleep?”
“I can’t fall asleep.”
“Ahh...what’s troubling you?” I sat down next to him on the bench looking out toward the ocean.
“Not really troubling...Just thinking I guess.”
“Ah...thinking.” he took a sip from his glass.
“Uncle Tay...can I ask you something?” he looked at me and smiled.
“Well, when you met Aunt Beth...how did you know when you loved her?” his face softened. I felt badly, I shouldn’t have asked him anything about her.
“I would say, I probably knew the moment I first saw her. I know, that sounds silly, love at first site...but I think I knew there was something about her the very first time I met her.” I smiled, looking out at the peaceful ocean, and the small lights way out in the distance. I looked at him, his hair was cut fairly short, still mostly blonde, but graying in places, and his face dark in the porch lights had only smile lines.
“You know, even if you are older and all that...you’re still pretty good looking, why don’t you date or anything?” He laughed a bit, and paused before answering, his eyes a bit watery.
“Well, I guess after Beth died,” he started, paused then continued “I didn’t feel like dating, for a while I sort of used Evan and Vi as an excuse, you know didn’t want to hurt the kids anymore than they already were.” I nodded, and let him continue. “but really, it was always about, I had the best, how could I expect anyone to ever measure up to Beth? It just wouldn’t happen.”
“Don’t you get lonely?” I asked, he seemed to think very seriously about this question.
“You know, not really. I miss Beth, but I have so much here, and she never left me. So, not I don’t really get lonely. Even when I miss her, on nights like this, Evan’s birthday, or Viola’s birthday...anniversaries, I just sit here, and I remember her, and it’s like, everything is going to be okay, because we still talk, we’re still together just...in a different way.” I hugged him tightly.
“I love you Uncle Taylor.”
“I love you too Brenna.”
I went back to the computer, and printed out all the journal entries and took them upstairs with me. I fell asleep reading the words he had written over and over, and I learned things about him I never would have found anywhere else.