In Teenage Heat
I was literally boiling. The car was an oven. A sticky, prickly oven with too many people and not enough air vents. Three of us, a cool box and an inflatable flamingo squished onto the back seat. I kept telling myself to think of the reward at the end of the motorway. My parents kept telling us to stop squabbling. I kept restating my innocence; it was all my juvenile brothers arguing over comics. I begrudgingly tolerated them until satisfying separation at the beach.
The Sunday outing was our church. We would sweat away our sins as we crawled the twenty-five miles along the motorway every summer weekend for the sweet relief of sea air, sandy sandwiches and a daring dip in the English Channel. Yet it was more than leisure for me: it was a pilgrimage. My weekly opportunity to see Him. My one true love. My vision in red board shorts and a floppy curtain haircut.
I was literally dying. Life was in the balance. Dad threatened to turn the car around. Bumper to bumper. Minutes to hours. Dad’s face was redder than the Sunday he fell asleep and Mum decided not to tell him. Cupid must’ve pulled some strings because at the next junction, we made it into third gear and Dad agreed to continue on. I sent good thoughts through the ether to my beloved: I was on my way.
After a record two-hour journey, we were ready to gladly ignore each other. Mum spritzed on her baking oil and fell asleep. Dad studied the Sunday papers. The boys started digging The Big Hole. I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to be near my love. The walk to the toilet block would take me past him. Picking my way past trampled sandcastles and towels laid out with smouldering human flesh, my stomach churned. My cheeks flushed at the thought of him. He would see me. Smile. I would smile back. He would fall in love, forever. It was definitely going to happen that day.
I was literally melting. The sand was burning my urban toes. I wished Mum had bought me those jelly shoes. Just past a windbreak fort, he came into view. Lounging against the wooden dinghies for hire, he was a bronzed, teenage god. The heat didn’t bother his feet, his beautiful tanned feet with perfect toes. I was staring. Mesmerised. I kept walking to save my feet, but my eyes were fixed on my dearest. He hadn’t seen me yet, but he would – any moment.
Damned distraction arrived. A family renting a boat. Business first; I loved that he was helping customers as well and earning his own wages, even as a youth. He would be a wonderful husband. After working all day, we would take the boats out ourselves for a romantic moonlit sailing. My daydreams were interrupted by an ice cream, fallen from grace on the sand. I had to tear my eyes away from the object of my affections to inspect the goo that was now squidging between my toes. Fortunately, he was too busy to notice my predicament. Although it could’ve been a charming beginning to our love affair: a hilarious story to tell the grandkids where he scooped me up with his flexing biceps and carried me to the surf to lovingly bathe my feet. Instead I limped to the trickling tap by the dog waste bin to deal with the situation myself.
I was literally about to explode. Returning from the toilets, I walked along the shoreline. Less obstructions. I had to give him the best chance to see me and fall so deeply in love that the poor soul might never be the same again. The anticipation was too much for me; my earlier chips were in danger of reappearing.
And then it happened. He glanced my way. Just for a second. Our eyes locked. My skin crackled with fire. His mouth curled up on the right corner and his eyes crinkled. It could’ve been the blazing sun, but more likely the moment cupid’s arrow pierced his heart. His smile was such a sight that it should have been recorded for scientific study as the perfect expression of beauty. I flashed red. A rogue wave caught me off guard and soaked the bottom of my culottes. I averted my eyes from his gaze to maintain my alluring mystery and splashed back to our base camp.
I was literally heartbroken. Rug rolled up. Clammy t-shirts back on. We were leaving. So soon. Others stayed on the beach. I longed to be part of their family. To be understood. Mum said we had to get back to finish homework for school tomorrow. I couldn’t believe she would let such a trivial thing come between me and my destiny. How could she understand? She’d never felt the flaming passions like I felt towards my love.
Huffing and scowling, I trudged up the hill to the free parking and back to the greenhouse on wheels. Windows down with Dad wailing along to the Top 40 chart rundown. Bryan Adams was still there, and articulating my feelings perfectly. ‘I’d walk the fire for you.’ I may not have had a fire to walk, but I’d endure a metal torture chamber with family members from other planets for a large portion of the weekend for a mere glimpse of him. I stared forlornly out the window to send my sentiments on the hazy breeze to my beautiful beau by the boats. My soggy, sandy towel wrapped around me to cool my burning desires. Maybe next week I would say hi.
Katie Isham is a writer, teacher, drummer and mild adventurer. She believes kindness is a superpower. She writes a travel blog that is currently somewhat static. Her words can also be found in Dear Damsels, The Daily Drunk Mag, Funny Pearls and The Shrew Satire. You will find her in the south of England hanging out with dogs or eating cake. Sometimes simultaneously.