“Fuuuuuck” I kicked the chair and and the table next to it and regretted it instantly, my foot hurt like a motherfucker. But I was done and the only thing that felt right was to scream. Everyone stopped eating, mouths mid biting their burgers. I’ve been working this shitty ass low income job at this gross ass restaurant since I finished school. Today I just broke. Three years of the same shit every day, if I had to clean one more ketchup stained table again I think I’d kill myself. My boss, Jerry stared at me in shock, I was the quiet kid who always just showed up and didn’t talk to anyone, getting on with the job – not today.
“James, what the fuck?” Complete and utter silence. Jerry looked pissed.
“I’m sorry but I’m done, I quit, sorry” I put the cloth and spray on a table, took my apron off and walked out of the door for the last time. Jerry didn’t deserve that but neither did I. For my mental sanity I had to leave and I had to leave at that exact moment. I felt like I was going to vomit but kind of in a good way, it probably made me a terrible person but it was time for a change. Except now I was completely jobless and didn’t know what the fuck to do, so I just walked. I walked right out of there and just kept walking, somehow I managed to walk for two hours without even thinking about anything, didn’t even put my earphones in, just walked in silence. My feet started to hurt so I found a bench, living near the beach was nice but I hardly went, I almost forgot how good it felt to just sit on a bench and look at the ocean from afar, it really was beautiful from up here. Why did water look so peaceful? The sound was pretty soothing too. To think I could have come here everyday, did it really have to take something drastic like quitting my job to appreciate some goddamn water?
I sat on the bench for I don’t even know how long, the sun made my face burn and my back was sweating, my entire body felt hot but I didn’t want to leave the water, that and I didn’t know what do to next so I continued to sit on the bench. There wasn’t really anyone around except the occasional mother walking on the sidewalk with a pushchair and the girl standing on the ledge in front of me. Holy shit there was a girl standing on a ledge in front of me, how did I not notice. What the fuck? Was she going to to kill herself? Shit she was going to jump. I pushed myself off the bench instantly and ran towards the ledge, grabbing her by the waist and tackling her to the pavement. She landed on top of me as I hit my head on the pavement and she screamed.
“What the hell?”
“What the hell? I saved your life?”
She stood up, dusting her hands off, her palm was bleeding slightly, she must have scraped it on the pavement. She laughed.
“Wh-why are you laughing? I’m confused”
She put her hand out towards me helping me get up, “I wasnt trying to kill myself”
“What were you doing then? Relaxing on top a ledge where you could fall to your death at any minute?”
“As a matter of fact that’s exactly what I was doing” she squinted at the sun, smiling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone smile this much in such a short period of time.
“Yeah you could fall and fall, look how high we are”
She looked over the ledge, “hm, that is pretty high, that’s what gives me the high though” she laughed.
“It’s not funny” what was her problem?
“Yea it kinda is” little strands of her hair blew in the wind, it was black and short, tied up in a loose pony tail at the back, with a fringe covering her forehead, making a little slit in the middle whenever the wind blew, “what’s not fun is wasting the opportunity to stand on a ledge and look at the ocean, come on” she started walking away, waving me to follow. I followed.
I don’t know why I followed, I had no idea who she was, she could have been a murderer for all I knew but I was jobless and didn’t know what to do next, so what the hell. Plus how often in life do you meet a stranger who stands on a ledge, laughs about it and tell you to follow her. Her. What is her name.
“What’s your name?”
“Sand” she looked back at me with a straight face.
“Really? You’re kidding right?” There’s no way I just met a stranger called sand.
“Yeah I’m kidding, it’s Ocean”
“Is that another joke?” This girl has a weird sense of humour.
“Nope. My mother liked the Ocean, she moved here to look at the Ocean, when I was born she figured she’d have to look at me all the time, so why not name me Ocean”
“That’s pretty cool, I think”
“I think so too”
We walked in silence down the side of the cliff towards the Ocean, the actual Ocean.
“Aren’t you going to ask me my name?”
“Okay what’s your name?”
“You’re kidding right?”
“No? Why would i joke about that?”
“I don’t know, that’s what you said when i told you my name” she laughed.
Her laugh was kind of contagious because it made me laugh. She had a pretty laugh, a pretty smile now that I really got to look at her. She looked really average, you couldn’t get more average than that but her constant smiling and laughter made her the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. Maybe because everyone I was surrounded by always looked miserable as fuck.
Ocean started skipping down the little path towards the sand. It would have been funny if her name was sand. I jogged following her. The beach was empty. Literally empty. This town was small, really small, not a very touristy area either, and the locals mostly got bored with it to be honest. So people hardly came here, including me.
When we got down to the sand she started undressing, shirt off first followed by shorts, followed by… Jesus Christ, she was getting fully naked. She slipped her bra off last and as she did I was thought I was going to vomit. I don’t know why, it just made me nervous, she made me nervous. Why was she getting undressed in front of me, a stranger, she didn’t even look like she cared. Her skin looked smooth and slightly sunburned, I had a feeling this was a daily occurrence for her. I couldn’t stop staring at her breasts, I didn’t want to look like an asshole pervert so I tried to look elsewhere, but all I really wanted to do was to look at her body, she did literally undress right in front of me. What is happening? One moment I’m wiping tables and picking up wrappers off the floor and the next there’s a stranger called Ocean undressing in front of me.
When she was finished undressing she smiled a wide toothy smile and ran towards the water screaming at the top of her lungs. I looked around but there really was no one here. She screamed till she reached the Ocean, and it made me want to run after her screaming, but instead I jogged to catch up and stood by the water watching her splash around in the water.
“Come on, take your clothes off and get in” she motioned for me to go to the water, shouting slightly so I could hear her. Next thing you know I was taking my clothes off, I don’t know why but also why the fuck not, it’s not like today was an ordinary day anyway and the water looked pretty good. I tried not to think too much about her seeing me naked, she made it seem so easy since she didn’t care, so I ran into the water towards her.
“Doesn’t it feel good?” She floated on top of the water, waves moving her wet body up and down gently as they passed.
I felt like I was going to vomit from the nervousness again as I looked at her, “Yeah, feels yeah… good” I swallowed hard, mostly because I was nervous but also because the water was so fucking cold. It was a nice change from the burning sun though. Ocean was smiling. Ocean was smiling and it felt like the Ocean we were in was smiling. It sounds stupid but it did.
She got up from the floating position and faced me “it’s cold, two bodies are hotter than one, hug me and we’ll warm up” next thing you know our bodies were touching straight up and down. Leg to leg. Knee to knee. Thigh to thigh. Oh shit, I thought I was actually going to vomit. I could feel her everywhere, her breasts were pressed up against my chest and, fuck. I was getting turned on and I couldn’t help it, I almost pushed her away and apologised but she kept her arms around me shivering. My arms were beside me, I was almost scared to touch her. I didn’t know whether to move, she seemed unbotherd.
I couldn’t breathe. She looked up at me suddenly.
“Why do you look like you’re going to throw up? Did i do something wrong? My mum always told me I’m too comfortable around people, she said it makes them uncomfortable, are you uncomfortable?” She titled her head and it was so close to mine.
“No it’s kind of the opposite, it’s good, I’m having a good time”
“Do you always look like you’re going to vomit when you’re having a good time?”
“No I think this is the first time”
“And I bet you thought I was weird”
I laughed. For a second I forgot about our bodies touching but when it went silent again I was hyperaware of it. It felt hot, was it the body heat or just the nervousness? Either way the water wasn’t cold anymore. It almost felt scalding hot. It was silent too, just a faint woosh and clash of waves.
“Okay I’m warm now” she stopped hugging me and left to go swim around. I stayed in the same spot being lifted by the waves, trying to compose myself. I watched her swim around for a while as she smiled. This girl never stops smiling.
“I’m bored now, let’s go somewhere else” she made her way towards the stand and I followed. She ran towards her clothes, I grabbed mine on the way and followed. I just kept following. Her clothes clung to her wet body and her hair clung to her face, dripping. She grabbed it and twisted some of the water out onto the sand and I shook my head to get rid of the water in mine. Some of the water accidentally splashed on her and I was going to apologise but she just laughed, so I laughed back. Jesus Christ that laugh. I don’t even know who she is but all I want is to go back into the water and feel her body against mine again. Just thinking about it made me want to…
“Are you having a good time again? Because you look like you want to throw up?”
“You got me”
“I got you” she said, grabbing my hand and running up the hill, pulling me behind her. My shoes made a splashing sound whenever I took a step, so did hers. We ran further than I’ve ever probably ran in my life, mostly because I never run anywhere. I could barely breathe but she looked so happy I didn’t want to stop her.
We reached an ice cream parlour eventually, it was small and the woman working there looked old and frail. When we stepped in the door chimed and the old lady greeted Ocean as though she knew her.
“Wait, I don’t have any money on me”
“It’s fine, I work here, it’s on the house, or rather right outta my paycheck”
“Oh, I don’t want you paying for me, it’s fine really”
“Well we’re getting ice cream so you either let me pay or you better run outta here with your ice cream without paying”
The old woman behind the ice cream glass laughed. “You better get the ice cream boy or she’ll force it down your throat”
I got the ice cream.
Ocean took us to the back so we could scoop our own ice cream and pick out our own toppings. She got the biggest tub of mint chocolate chip with just about every kind of topping: chocolate sauce, three kinds of sprinkles, gummy bears, marshmallows, little oreos and whipped cream with a cherry on top. It was practically trying to escape out of the tub. I got the strawberry and the caramel. Although she forced me to get sprinkles. “It’s not ice cream without sprinkles” she said.
We made our way to some seats by the window, you could see the ocean from here. The place was practically empty save for the man sitting at the back, sipping a milkshake and reading a newspaper, he had a navy worn out cap that said ‘space stuff’ in white lettering at the front, whatever that means.
I didn’t know what to say as Ocean looked happy just eating her ice cream in silence, but I wanted to speak to her, wanted to find out more about her, so I spoke: “Do you only eat the mint?” Stupid question.
“Yup, why ruin something that’s already perfect. Mint is my all time favourite so I only ever get mint”
“Yet you get so many toppings?”
“They’re all my favourite toppings” she popped the cherry from the top in her mouth and pretended the gummy bear was drowning in the whipped cream. Three years of doing the same thing and all it took was going to the beach to actually enjoy myself for the first time. I pretended to rescue her gummy bear and ate it.
She didn’t question my choice of ice cream and we sat in silence till we were finished. She finished way before me and I don’t know how since her ice cream was about five times bigger than mine. I’m not exaggerating. It was fucking huge. A mountain of ice cream.
When we finished she said the words that made me follow her without question “come on”, I was probably stupid for letting a stranger drag me around town like this, but I don’t think I cared. I don’t think I cared about anything anymore, hence why I screamed “fuuuuuck” in frustration and quit my job. I followed Ocean as she did cartwheels on the pavement all the way to a little house. It was the tiniest house I’ve ever seen, I didn’t think they made them this small. Entering a stranger’s house is stupid, but I did it anyway. I felt her naked body on mine so I think that makes us less strangers now anyway. We entered the house and it was filled with plants. Mostly cacti, what was this girls obsession with cacti? She put a record on, something old I didn’t recognise but it was funky. Who even owns a record now anyway, where’d she get that thing? She sat on her bed, grabbed a book and started reading. What the heck was I supposed to do.
“Um, so what are we doing here?”
“This is my house, you like it?”
“Yes it’s very nice but why are we here?”
“I don’t know, got bored and felt like reading a book”
“Should I leave?”
“Only if you want to, if not come sit next to me, we can read together”
I sat on the bed and it was soft, there were stuffed toys all over and books even more. There was also a pogo stick, a gumball machine and a hula hoop. Ocean handed me a random book and I just held it.
“Why did you bring me to the beach and get undressed in front of me and take me out for ice cream when I don’t even know you? I could be a murderer you know?” I had to ask her, I had to know, because I was really fucking confused about what was going on.
“Well are you?”
“Are you a murderer?”
“Is that a question? James do you not know whether you’ve murdered someone?” She laughed. And I like how she said my name. People don’t usually use my name when speaking to me very much. It’s usually just hey or kid.
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t murder anyone”
“You know you did follow me”
“You asked me why I took you, a stranger, to the beach, yet you followed me, you followed a stranger yourself”
“Fair point, but still, why?”
“I was bored and it seemed like a fun idea, I was gonna do it anyway and it seemed more fun with a friend”. A friend? We only just met. It did feel nice to be called a friend though.
“Still kinda dangerous and weird”
“James if you never do things that are dangerous and weird your life is going to be boring as shit, you may as well get into that whole murdering thing you were talking about, at least that sounds thrilling”
“But what if I was a murderer?”
“At least my last day on earth would be spent swimming in the Ocean and eating ice cream” she smiled, and lifted her eyebrow up waiting for me to respond.
“I see, or should I say… I Ocean, get it? Because it’s like the sea and the ocean?”. That was stupid why did I make that joke.
“That was worse than my murderer joke, I hate that” she laughed. God that laugh, i wish she’d laugh all day. I’d make all the bad jokes in the world if it meant I could hear her laugh.
“So do you always get undressed in front of stranger?”
“No, you’re the first. I like to do one new thing every today”
“And today you decided to get undressed in front of a stranger?”
“No today I decided to go to the beach and see what would happen, or should I say I wanted to ocean what would happen”
We both laughed.
“It was just coincidence that you were there, and I felt like swimming and swimming naked is more fun than swimming dressed, so I swam, and I screamed and It was fun wasn’t it?”
“Yea it was, I didn’t scream though”
“What here? No”
“I don’t wanna”
“AaaaaAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” she screamed so loud I thought I lost hearing in one ear, I stuck a finger in it and wiggled it around which popped it and restored my hearing though.
I screamed back and we both laughed.
“Fun isn’t it?” She looked so happy and excited.
“Strangely yeah”. I kinda wanted to scream again.
Ocean layed down on the bed.
She made talking easy, I felt like I could ask her anything on my mind. Before I was too scared to say hi to people I’ve worked with for three years but for some reason I felt like I could talk to Ocean for forever. I wanted to talk to her and to hug her in the water again. “Why do you look so happy all the time?”
“There’s a lot of stuff to be happy about”
“The Ocean,” she smiled, “ice cream with sprinkles on top, a long book, the sun in your face, a hot cup of coffee on a cold evening, hugging a stranger, cacti, fresh bed sheets, music, should I keep going?”
She didn’t need to keep going. Why did it take a stranger to make me realise that I should enjoy my coffee and go to be beach once in a while. I think I forgot to enjoy living for the last couple of years. I don’t even know how it got to this point.
“Brushing your teeth”
“The minty toothpaste feels really good when brushing your teeth, that makes me happy”
“I love that feeling”. I did love that feeling and I kinda wanted to brush my teeth all of a sudden, I wanted to enjoy brushing my teeth. What the fuck. Am I high? I feel like I could cry because I forgot that brushing your teeth actually feels fucking good.
Ocean started signing along to the record playing in the background. For some reason I felt comfortable saying almost anything now, “your signing is God awful” yet I chose that.
“I know!” She burst into a wild laughter “it’s the worst”, but she continued, she didn’t care. Fuck. I think I love this girl.
She sung for a while as I lay next to her.
“Hug me” she said it outta nowhere and all of a sudden I wanted to vomit again. I thought I was over that.
“Oh no, do you want to vomit again? At least that means you do want to hug me right?”
“Yeah, I do, I do want to hug you, really bad”
I turned to face her and put my hand on her waist, assuming we’d hug like that, I didn’t know how else, we were in a strange position, but before I knew it she pulled me on top of her and wrapped her hands around me. She smelled like ice cream and sprinkles and her hair was still a bit wet from the ocean. Our bodies touched fully like in the water and I got hot once again.
“Can you breathe?” I didn’t want to squash her.
“Yeah can you?”
“I’m not so sure”. I think I was holding my breath. After a while it got easier to breathe though. My face was buried inside her neck as we lay there and her arms started sliding all around my back and my arms. It felt warm and nice. I lifted my head to look at her and she smiled all of a sudden.
“Lets go brush our teeth”
“Right the fuck now”.
She made brushing teeth sound like the best thing in the world and I couldn’t wait.
I followed her into the bathroom and she got a spare toothbrush out of a little bag underneath the sink. The bathroom was so tiny we barely fit in. She handed me the toothbrush and we both squirted the toothpaste onto our toothbrushes and too much of it. Ocean tried to blow bubbles with the toothpaste foam but ended up spitting it everywhere instead and laughing, which caused more to come out. I laughed too and the sink was covered in toothpaste foam. My teeth felt shiny and our mouths smelled minty fresh. I know because we took it in turns to smell inside eachother’s mouths.
After that we took a bubble bath together and she showed me her collection of rubber ducks. Some were dressed up. One looked like a painter with a berret and a paint palette. I felt like a child and after this I was going to buy a rubber duck just like it. Except I didn’t want it to end.
“Hug me?” This time it was me asking, and she hugged me so quickly all the water got pushed to the front along with her body and spilled out the sides. She laughed, of course she laughed. This time I properly hugged her back. I stroked her back and touched her arms and even played around with her hair which didn’t get a chance to dry as it was wet all over again from the bath water. My hands caressed her body almost everywhere and she laughed a lot of the time, especially when they slid down her waist. A big laugh, snorting and everything, I think even a little snot came out. I wanted to touch her breasts, so I did. My hand slid over them and they were small and smooth and one was bigger than the other and I thought that was interesting. She showed me how one of her ribs stuck out more than the other, same side as her larger breast. She said she was odd like that but she liked odd numbers so it made sense. I said I like all numbers equally and she called me boring. We laughed.
We stayed in the bath till the skin on our hands was wrinkly and we pretended we were old. Ocean even had a walking cane in her closet for some reason, so she used it to pretend she was a grandma and I pretended I had no teeth and and spoke funny. We slept on the floor that day because we were pretending we were camping. We even made smores on the gas stove.
The next day we went to the Ocean again and this time I screamed as I ran in. It’s funny how this story started with a scream, sometimes you just have to scream. I’ve been going to the Ocean every day since. And we’ve been sleeping on the floor and eating smores every day since too. Sometimes we sleep on the bed when our backs hurt. I called my roommate and told him to keep all my stuff or throw it away if he wants and I told him I wasn’t coming back. He said “sick” because he got to keep my xbox, I paid my share of the rent for the next six months, I wasn’t going to leave him hanging. He didn’t care anyway, he was just happy that he had my xbox. I also called Jerry and apologised, he forgave me but I’m never going back.
I haven’t been back for years. Because instead for years I’ve been enjoying brushing my teeth and playing with rubber ducks and eating too many sprinkles and most importantly screaming once in a while. And screaming feels fucking great. I have a new job too, it’s nothing special but for some reason I enjoy everything about it. The old ice cream lady died and Ocean and I have been working at the cream shop since, but I love making every cone of ice cream and speaking to every stranger that comes in.
But the thing I love doing the most is probably brushing my teeth. So minty.