Have You Ever Been in Love?
By Gwen Kaliszewski
My fingers are sticky with marshmallows and sand, the wind is blowing my hair into my mouth, and I am at my favorite place in the whole world. Claire, my brother, her brother, and I are all sitting around a campfire on the beach. It’s summer, but it’s the Oregon coast, and so we are wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts. My cheeks are pink from the wine my parents let me have at dinner. I am nineteen now, it’s been years since we were last in this place together, having Nerf gun wars and playing capture the flag for hours. Our brothers are taller than us now. Gone were the days where Claire and I held hands in the dark movie theater in Seaside, my head on her shoulder, neck cramping but unwilling to move. Not understanding why it made me warm inside, made my cheeks flush like the wine. Our brothers are sixteen but still young enough to run around with abandon. Claire’s brother tackles mine with a whoop and off they go, chasing and tackling each other. Claire stands up.
“Come on,” she says, “Let’s go on a walk.” She offers me her hand.
We walk away from my beach house, diagonally towards the ocean. It’s pitch black, except for the beach house lights and the stars. The waves sound even louder at night. I fish in my pocket for a joint and take a deep hit, letting the smoke quiet the ever-present chatter in my mind. I offer it to Claire but she declines.
“Have you ever been in love?” she asks me.
“Yes,” I say, “I fall in love all the time.”
Claire smiles. “Me too.” And in the dark, with the waves crashing in our ears, she threads her fingers through my hair and kisses me.