It was strange to be back in St. Augustine and to know that I wouldn’t be seeing Odette. It had been a pretty awesome few days. Rissa and I just spent the whole time either holed up in our small hotel room on the beach, at some cafe’ where she knew every damn person that worked there, or out on the sand surrounded by a continued ebb and flow of her endless admirers / friends. They just ate up her stories and her laughter. But even though I was with the cutest and best surfer girl on the beach and in the South…for real, I still found myself keeping my eyes peeled everywhere, for Odette. Not seeing her at all during this trip would be like eating a whole ice-cream sundae with hot fudge and sprinkles, but no whipped cream.
So I sat on the sand under the blazing sun. It kept me warm through the cool winter breeze coming off the water and I watched Rissa in her cotton-candy-pink wetsuit, (I’m not joking, it’s seriously fucking pink) tear up the waves. I looked around to see other people, other guys watching her surf and I decided to go for a walk down the beach. I would just walk far enough to come to Luna’s house then back again. I wouldn’t go in or anything of course, just walk past it then turn around and come back.
It was kind of a long walk down the beach. I didn’t remember that. I started to jog a little and thought about my board just sitting on the sand back there with no one watching it. I finally got close and all the memories came flooding back. I looked at the deck where Chris kicked my ass and remembered feeling my ribs crack underneath him. I could sense the exact level of his anger with each blow upon my chest and that made me smile now. Perhaps I was a sick bastard for remembering it fondly, but the fact remained that every punch was because Odette wanted me more than him. And no matter how many times or how hard he plowed his fist into my chest,nothing was going to change that fact. That felt good, like the sun warm on my bare back.
I absentmindedly rubbed my rib that had only just finally healed. Then I jumped a little as I saw Odette, Chris and Zoe come walking out of Luna’s kitchen door onto the porch deck. I was far enough away that they probably wouldn’t notice me right away so I turned and walked away slowly, then found a dune to sit behind for a little while. Then after a couple of minutes I looked out from behind the dune and saw the three of them on the beach. Chris was throwing Zoe up in the air and catching her and then when he put her down she would go running off as Odette chased after her then carried her back to their stunningly sweet family unit. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. When did she get this happy with Chris? I really thought he wouldn’t be able to handle her shit and would be long gone by now. But there they were. I saw her look in my direction then look again and she seemed to freeze so I walked slowly behind the dune and sat down back there. I felt my heart pumping and I felt a bit slimy, like some weird stalker or something. I wondered if I should trample over the dunes and mess of sand-spurs and vines and flowers, and hopefully not rattle snakes, until I got to the road. That way she wouldn’t see me again. But instead I just sat there and waited. I guess I know her well enough that she can’t stay away from me and sure enough, about 45 minutes later she came looking for me and stopped and looked down at my pitiful ass, sitting there behind the dune, waiting for her to appear.
“Hi” I said.
I stood up and brushed the sand off my shorts and my back. “What the fuck was that little scene I just witnessed? When did you turn into Mary Poppins or some shit?”
She looked a little amused. “Mary Poppins was a NANNY. I am Zoe’s MOTHER. But I think I get that you are trying to say that we look happy, right?”
“Right” I smiled at her. I wanted to hug her. She was so comfortable around me and her hair blew in this amazing way in the wind, like it knew how to dance out there or something. “God, I’ve missed you.” I said, surprising myself at the emotion in my voice. I think I surprised her too because she suddenly looked uncomfortable.
“How are things with Rissa?” she said, a little briskly.
“Good!” She said, like a sorority girl who was good at giving really warm feedback.
I nodded at her.
“I have to go.” she said. “Luna’s making dinner and I promised I would put the salad together.”
“I just wanted to see you” I said, a little weirdly-emotional again with my voice unexpectedly shaking. But this time she looked like she understood.
“I’m glad you, came.” She looked around her. “Where did you come from?”
“Rissa and I are staying down the beach at a little hotel. She got the room for free somehow. I don’t even bother to ask anymore. People just do anything for that girl. All she has to do is smile at them.”
Odette nodded, frowning at me with this intense interest like she was trying to figure me out. “Cool” she said, as if she knew she had to say something and that was the most benign thing she could throw at me.
“Goodbye Silver Swann” I said. I did some awkward, gentle, punch-her-in-the-shoulder move. She knew me well enough to know I was dying to touch her and that was the only way I could do it.
“Bye Jake,” she said and smoothed some of that long, light hair behind her ear. Then she just turned and hurried off. I watched her white skirt catch her ankles as she strode gracefully across the sand. Her white sweater was a bit long at her wrists and she curled her fingers over it and I saw her wipe her face. Was she wiping her eye? Was she crying? I sure hoped so.
I turned and started to walk back down the beach to find Rissa. I knew she wouldn’t be mad at my unexplained absence. Even if she suspected I went to see Odette, she knows I would never purposely do anything to hurt her. Also that girl never keeps track of time, or score. But it was likely she left my board on the beach, and hopefully I wasn’t locked out of the hotel room that for some reason only she had a card-key for. I felt good though, like I had just stuck my tongue out and filled my whole mouth with sweet whipped cream. Now I just had to be sure not to start craving it again.