I watched you as you talked. My eyes read your lips as you spoke, though I could hear every word. When you paused my eyes rested on yours; watched your eyelashes as you blinked and squinted in the sunlight. In the longer pauses, I let my eyes leave your face and follow your gaze out to sea.
We'd found a quiet spot above the rocks by the water, nestled away from joggers, dog-walkers and cyclists. The sandy patch where we sat was too small for strangers to feel comfortable joining us. Couples peered down from the path from time to time but moved on to find their own secluded space along the waterfront when they saw us.
We hadn't sought out somewhere private, isolated. We happened upon this spot, and from the path above noticed some interesting rocks. Gun-metal grey pebbles worn smooth by the high tide. The sun-bleached bones of a bird. The latter drew us down here for a closer look. After balancing on rocks inspecting the skeleton we gravitated to the sandy patch of earth behind to continue our conversation.
It was one of those slow, lazy, relaxed conversations old friends have. The ones that nestle on comfortable silences. The kind that comes easy, flows smoothly but drifts off into natural silences from time to time. This is how we talked most times we caught up. Especially on long summer days when we didn't have to be anywhere in particular. Though from time to time we'd meet at a bar and talk over each other in excited bursts. Especially when we hadn't caught up in a while and there was a lot to tell.
On a day like today where we both found ourselves on a break from work, we would meander along the coastline. Enjoying the sea breezes. Seeking out creatures, living or dead, amongst the rocks. And talking like this.
But today felt different. From the first moment we met and hugged, as we did each time we met. Something unspoken seemed to be between us and this time it didn't feel like it was only from me. As soon as I thought that, though, I brushed the thought aside. Wrote it off as my imagination. An overactive mind. Dismissed it completely. Or so I thought.
Then, as we sat by the water talking about everything and nothing, skimming grey pebbles across the soft, low waves, the feeling came back. As the sun became stronger at the peak of the afternoon we felt lazier and both lay down. Our knees bent, our forearms resting across our eyes to shield them from the sun. Without thinking, we'd ended up laying down side-by-side. But that was never a big deal before so, again, I brushed the thought aside. We were comfortable together. And it made conversation easier as the sound of the waves grew louder in our ears.
But then, laying next to you, a little more relaxed from our time in the sun and the sneaky pint of cider I'd had over lunch, every movement felt magnified. More significant. As we spoke about memories from years ago, your hand gently slapped my thigh as you broke into peals of laughter. As your palm connected with my skin, it felt like a jolt of electricity. I tried not to flinch or show any outward sign of how it made me feel. But the feeling coursed through my body to other places, out of my control. I laughed with you, distracted. I wondered if you'd noticed. But then a plane flying overhead changed the course of our conversation. And the moment passed.
As we talked, I snuck furtive, sidelong glances at you. Trying to figure out if my senses were right or if it is was the sun addling my thoughts. You continued to talk to me as you always did. And again I brushed aside the sense that anything was different. I listened to the sound of your voice; so familiar, calming, warm.
The tone of your voice leapt as you remembered a night we'd gone out together many years ago. Your voice was full of laughter as you rolled over onto one elbow to face me; to observe my expression as you reminded me of it. I removed my right forearm from one eye to watch your animated face as you spoke, whilst still shielding my gaze from the sun's harsh light.
Before I had time to think, my left hand sought out yours resting on the sand next to me. My hand curved around yours. Clasping it gently, but at the same time conveying everything I was feeling. I pulled my right arm away from both eyes now, gazing straight into your eyes. I held my breath for what seemed like an eternity.