I hereby promise:
Letter of the week, from Tom:
I found a beach at Big Sur a few months ago, one of those open secrets that seems special even though everyone else knows about it too. It's down at the end of a long one-lane road--so narrow that someone will have to reverse out if two cars meet--and surrounded by near-vertical cliffs on the sides and back. The beach stretches for about a quarter mile, around rock formations from ten to fifty feet tall, a really dramatic and beautiful place, I was sorry I didn't have my camera with me.
I was there with my family, three little brothers and my parents, and we set up a good way from the surf in an area that was sheltered from the strong sea breeze by one of the rock formations. I spent a few hours playing in the waves with my little brothers, bodysurfing and climbing on the larger formations, watching the girls. About half an hour after we got there another group set up just a few feet from our spot, in the shelter of the same stone. It was a group of collage kids, about my age, two girls and a guy. I didn't notice them much at first because I was out in the water when they came down, but when I came up on the beach to rest for a while in the sun I certainly did. One of the girls was playing where the waves broke on the beach, splashing the other two and then running away to avoid retaliation. She was beautiful, tall and slender, but the reason I couldn't take my eyes off her was how she moved, like grace personified. I lay for half an hour, content to watch her dance. I would have watched all day, but she came back up to where she had a towel laid out and started to lie down.
I guess she must have had sand in her bathing suit, because she seemed to have a hard time getting comfortable, and she finally got back up and slipped on a light purple dress, sliding out of her suit as she put it on, doing it with the same grace and smooth movement I was admiring before. I fell asleep in the sun for a short time then, as, I suspect, did she. When I woke up I was overheated, the sun had climbed higher and in the shelter of the rock I felt smothered. I got up and walked down to the surf, then, struck by a whim, I started to run down the beach. After a few dozen yards I closed my eyes, it was deserted ahead and I used the shallow water of the breaking waves to keep me going in a straight line.
Right then I would have said there was nothing that could compare to that feeling, the speed and the air, but a moment later I was proved wrong. I heard footsteps beside my own and opened my eyes to see the girl I had been admiring. Up close and running she moved like a dream, like she only touched the ground out of deference for my limitations. She smiled across at me and closed her own eyes, still running, her long auburn hair and the skirt of her purple dress streaming out behind her. At the very end of the beach there was a smaller rock formation, six of seven feet high, and not wanting to stop I jumped to a foothold about half way up and vaulted to the top. She stopped at the base and I reached down and grasped her hand, pulling her up as well.
We stood there for a few minutes, not saying anything, just breathing heavily from the run and looking out at the ocean and the crescent of the beach. I'm shy, but my silence wasn't about fear of talking to a girl, it was just understood that this wasn't about talking, just standing. When we both stopped breathing heavily the moment was over, and I jumped down to land in the pile of sand that the wind had driven up against the back side of the stone. She looked down and smiled, motioning me to move back. I did, stepping off the pile of sand, and she leapt up and out, flying where I had dropped like a stone. Her dress flew up as she fell catching under her arms and leaving her nearly naked, long legs and smooth skin and small breasts, each line perfect. She landed in the footprints I had left on the sand and casually pulled her dress back down where it belonged, sliding it back over her skin as the sea breeze plastered it to her body. We walked back together, but never said a word. When we got back to the towels I was called over to help my little brother down off a rock he'd climbed, and by the time I was back she was gone.
I hope to see her every time I go back, dancing in the sea foam.
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