The sun hung low in the sky longer than I could have hoped, longer than seemed possible or fair. It gilded the trees and hills in a cozy glow and warmed my burned shoulders. Across the lake, it blazed a stripe of white.
We listened to the gentle lap at the boat dock, and when I opened my eyes, she was sipping her IPA so carefully I knew it was for my benefit. Dainty acting for her one-man audience.
It would get chilly soon, and she and I would paddle back in and towel off, but not just yet. We were hellbent on wringing every drop out of another perfect day.
The selfishness of a relationship, one so new it hadn’t been defined or labeled, is intoxicating. I wanted to know everything; how old she was when she went to her first hockey game; if she ever skinned her knees falling off her bike or cried when her pet goldfish died; where she kept her diary in middle school; when she first learned of the devastating effectiveness of tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder — a move as beautiful and calculated as it was ancient.
I wanted to pry open her vault and revel in her, learn things she had never told anyone. I wanted to protect her and help her protect herself. I wanted to be her every superlative — the biggest, the best, the most, the only.
She hooked a long, tan leg into my tube, and we talked. About what, I can’t remember. Wry acknowledgements of our situation, maybe, or charmingly reductive nothings.a It’s hard to focus on the future when you’re drenched in the present.
We were running out of days to exhaust. The sun was dipping lower.
Such a disgusting cliche, I thought. Graduation was around the corner, and these self-indulgences were fading behind me. But not her. Even if we fought and failed, I would always have that memory, permanent but a little hazy, like an over-exposed photograph.
Her smile, that sip, one leg, forgotten conversation. Just for me, the volition and affection of a beautiful girl is forever.