Finding Freedom (1986 words)
Note: Voyeurism with a little m/m; nothing graphic, but kissing involved.
Christa had been following the boy for almost ten days now. He was beautiful – so very beautiful – and Christa was enamoured.
She and her parents had been at the beach since school finished for the summer, and as an only child she was already bored with hanging out with them in their cosy holiday home. On the second day of her lonely wanderings around the small seaside town, she’d seen him and his friend on the beach, and begun surreptitiously to follow them around, hanging back on the crowded beach and only slipping her bare feet through the soft white sand when she was far enough back that she knew they wouldn’t give her a second glance.
He was bronzed already, though it was early in summer, and his dark hair shiny and long enough that she wished she could run her fingers through it. Of course, he was at least seventeen, way beyond her twelve-year-old reach, but it didn’t stop her from being in love with him.
She’d followed him and his friend far enough along the beach that first day to know he seemed to be staying not ten houses away from her own. Easy to track down; easy to follow since he had no idea she existed. He was always with his friend, about the same age but as blonde as he was dark, despite Christa’s dream that she’d find him alone one day and speak to him; say hello at least.
He’d reply to her, his sometimes brown and sometimes green eyes twinkling, and smile the smile she knew was broad and even, with a dimple on one side that made her sigh. He’d say hi, be interested in her, and keep her company for the rest of the summer; maybe even kiss her chastely before she had to return to the city. And they’d meet again in summers to come, until she was old enough that they’d take it further; become boyfriend and girlfriend, and beyond.
Her dream bubble popped as she saw the two leaving his place time and again, but secretly she hoped. Dreams were free.
It was a challenge sometimes to stay hidden as she trailed them through the hot streets, despite the summer visitors everywhere, and she liked to think she was good at it. She followed them when they wandered, chatting about whatever seventeen-year-old boys spoke of – she never got close enough to hear the words (though she loved the sound of his voice) – and when they ran down to the water and threw themselves in the waves; when they sat on their towels side-by-side in the sun; when they headed for the wharf with their fishing lines to pretend to catch more than the sprats that abounded; and when they stopped at the takeaway for burgers or shakes – fish and chips sometimes too.
Christa came to know their routines, the way they laughed at each other's jokes, which other boys and girls on the beach they spoke to. Her jealousy ran hot when her beloved smiled too long at some girl, but she held back – the fear of reality keeping her still – and watched as he and his friend moved away again, relieved that that girl, whoever she was, didn’t follow them too.
She loved the way the boy wore no shirt much of the time, so his smooth, broad back filled her eyes; how when he did wear a shirt it was soft green cotton, worn unbuttoned of course, unless the two boys were going into the newsagents for comics, when the man there made them button up for some reason she didn’t understand. His board shorts were either black or a deep red, and she liked to guess which pair he’d wear each day; smiling to herself when she got it right and admiring again how they sat low on his slim hips, exposing the twin dimples on his back just above them.
Even his legs were well shaped, and his feet smooth and even, either bare or in flip flops most days. And his arms – well-muscled, but not too muscled, she liked to think, with an odd-shaped scar just above his left elbow. She imagined how he got it sometimes, late at night, when she dreamed of him as her boyfriend. He fell off a startled horse; got hit by car while helping an old lady; fought off wild beasts; stopped a murderer from killing an innocent man. It could have been any of these, because obviously he was brave and strong, but could still get hurt, and then she’d care for him while he healed.
Her head was filled with him when she fell asleep and he was the first thing on her mind each morning. And her parents didn’t care that she spent her days following him – well, they wouldn’t if they knew, she decided – they were busy reading magazines, sunning themselves in he mornings and drinking with the people staying next door in the afternoons, so as long as she was home for lunch at midday and dinner each night, they let her do what she liked. It was safe in this town; she’d never felt frightened, and besides, there were families everywhere – if anyone tried anything, she’d scream and they’d help.
Her parents’ only question each day, “Did you have fun?”, was easily answered with “Yes”; no more was needed; they were people of few words on their summer break.
On the tenth day, there was something different from the early morning start that she’d found the boys taking the last few days. Previously they’d headed straight for the beach, but today, they were walking with purpose towards the dunes – not somewhere she’d seen them go before. And they both glanced around more; following was harder and she had to hang back, as the street was nearly empty, and she couldn’t be caught.
As they mounted the slope of the first dune, she hid behind a tree in the park opposite and studied the pair. What was it that made them seem different today? A more measured air – they didn’t want to be seen. What were they up to?
As they disappeared from sight, she rushed across the road, her flip flops slapping louder than usual as she ran, heart thumping loud. Carefully, she removed the offending beachwear and breathed a sigh of relief as her now-silent feet found the still-cool morning sand. Holding the footwear loose in one hand she took the dune more slowly, listening at each step to judge how close the pair were.
Near the top of the dune, she just caught sight of two heads disappearing over the next mound, and nodded to herself as she slipped after them, closing the distance with care. Several more dunes, and she slowed, their voices carrying in the breeze indicating they were nearer now, though she couldn’t see them this time. Frowning, she crouched low as she plodded through the shifting sand, and near the top this time, their words became clear.
“You have the most beautiful eyes in the universe.”
“You haven’t seen all the eyes in the universe.”
“Well, I’m sure it’s true.”
“Hardly. Next to yours, mine are but a close second.”
“What rubbish you spout.”
Was it a play they were practising? Boys didn’t speak this way to each other, did they? Despite their nearness, Christa had to see what was going on. Tentatively hiding behind a tussock of dune grass, she knelt up high enough to peer over the hill.
The boys had laid their towels much closer together than they did on the beach, and their heads and shoulders were just visible to her, thankfully below the level where they could see her. Not that they were looking in her direction. They only had eyes for each other.
Christa gulped and ducked back nonetheless. She blinked, working through the implications in her head. It made no sense to her mind; she was ignorant of such things. Taking a breath and tuning back into their words, she lifted her head again slowly to observe once more.
“Will your parents let you visit after the summer, d’you think?” Her beloved was asking.
“I don’t see why not; I doubt they’ve guessed anything,” his friend answered, lifting a hand and flipping back the stray lock of dark hair that Christa had only dreamed of touching.
She swallowed hard, sure something was about to happen that she probably shouldn’t watch.
Her beloved reached up his own hand to find the one on his hair and draw it near to his lips. Christa’s eyes widened as he kissed it with the perfect bow of his mouth, his gorgeous hazel eyes brimming with what looked to Christa like the love she’d hoped one day to see directed at her.
There were no more words – and Christa’s mind went blank at the same time – as they shifted closer on their towels and that perfect mouth found the other boy’s with a surety that suggested it wasn’t the first kiss they’d shared.
A tingle low in her abdomen – not the harsh knot behind her eyes that was jealousy she’d felt previously at his interest in other girls – surprised Christa, and she struggled to grasp why such an odd but somehow pleasurable feeling was the result of his betrayal. Her eyes were glued to the vision of these two boys tasting each other like lovers; gently and yet somehow so sensuously, was the only word she could find.
After a few moments – or was it an hour? – they pulled softly away, and smiled at each other. Christa’s face felt hot and her ‘tingle’ pulsed as they reached hands lower on each other’s bodies, smooth long fingers dipping away from Christa’s view. For a moment, she was torn between standing up to see more and shifting away to run through the heating sand as far from them as she could.
Sensitivity won out; something inside her said she had no right to see more. They deserved their privacy, and perhaps the beauty of the kiss was enough for her right now. Turning, she slid down the dune on her bottom, retrieving the flip flops she’d dropped in her surprise, and flew on air back to the pavement, across the road and through the park toward home.
Christa’s mother looked up in surprise from her magazine. “What are you doing here?”
Dropping her flip flops on the deck, Christa smiled unevenly and took a breath. “Thirsty,” she managed, and went in through the ranch slider to open the fridge. Thankfully a jug of cold water was there and she took her time finding a glass and pouring it carefully before replacing the jug and stepping back out to face her mother.
Her father looked up from his paper for a moment and shrugged, while her mother gazed at her suspiciously.
“I’m bored,” Christa announced and then drained the glass.
“Okay,” said her mother. “What do you feel like doing?”
Christa licked her lips and put the glass down on the picnic table. “I think… “ she began, and paused for a moment, tilting her head as she thought. A smile formed on her face. “I might go down to the campground to see if Annie’s family have arrived yet.”
She and Annie had been inseparable the year before, and boy-watching had been a new-found activity they had shared.
Her beloved might have found someone else, but Annie was fun, and there were always other boys to watch. And if the secret she’d viewed that morning became too much to bear – and Annie showed acceptance to such things – perhaps she could share the tale.
Though one thing she wouldn’t share – because it belonged only to them, and of course to Christa’s dreams – was which boys she had seen.
She hoped their summer was as good as she knew hers was going to be.
I know most of you are just getting into winter right now, so I hope that brought a little of summer back to your day! Happy Holidays!