Sun-Kissed (a short story)A Story by Joshua Donahue
A short tale of two people who bond.
Sun-Kissed (a short story)
Ninety-eight degrees, that’s what the thermometer on the refrigerator indicated. The summer days were just beginning, as it was in only mid-June. The people of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina were taking advantage of the sweltering heat though. It was an excuse to lie out even longer on beach towels upon the ocean shore while the kids enjoyed the waves. In fact, this was what Carley Brooks enjoyed. It gave her a reason to venture outside her beach house to meet new strangers.
Carley looked outside the kitchen window and smiled " more out of habit than hopes of finding something new. She got her a glass of water from the faucet and gulped it down.
Then the phone rang from the living room.
“Hello?” she heard her father say into the cordless. A few moments later, he walked into the kitchen.
Stan was a big guy. He was tall, sported a small beard, and had short hair. Compared to Carley, it was funny how he had produced such a petite teenaged girl.
“That was your mother. She said she was going to be a few days behind schedule. But she would be here by Monday, at the latest,” Stan told his daughter.
Carley rolled her eyes. The usual, she thought.
“Okay. Well, I’m going out,” she replied easily. She sat her empty glass in the sink.
“If you’re going to drive the golf cart, you’ll need to fill it up. And keep your phone on too,” he told Carley as she headed out the side door.
She hopped into the driver’s seat of the golf cart in the driveway, and then she headed to Jimmy’s. Jimmy’s was a small service station that was about two blocks away from Carley’s beach house. Going there was a usual summer thing for Carley. The owner, Jimmy, greeted her with a smile and gave her a free bag of jelly beans ever since she was just five years old. And today was no different.
“Well, well, well. Look who it is! Little Miss Carley Warley,” Jimmy said as he came outside to pump Carley’s gas.
“Hey, Jimmy! How are you?”
“Good as ever. Especially now that my favorite customer is back in town. You ready for another fun summer at the beach? The tourism has really picked up this year. Who knows? You might end up finding you a beau to hang out with.”
Carley laughed. “That’ll be the day. If a guy my age comes within teen feet of me, my dad would blow a gasket.”
“Probably right. So don’t tell your father I said that. Where is your old man by the way?” Jimmy asked as he removed the gas cap on the golf cart.
“Back at the house. You know him. He stays attached to his sports on the television, no matter where we are. But you should go by and see him.”
The machine beside the golf cart roared to life then as Jimmy began filling up the tank. “I think I just might do that later on. How’s your mom?”
“Late. Again. I’m pretty use to it by now. She always gets tied up at work, trying to finish off some new case she’s got going on or something.”
“She’ll be here soon though. Sometimes vacation for an adult sounds too hard to believe when they have been working so hard. Their brain just doesn’t shut off. Trust me. I’ve got fourty-four years and counting of experience.
“When Glenda was alive, me and her would close up shop over the winter, and go skiing back up in the mountains. Just for a nice change of scenery, ya know? And she would always nag me about worrying over the station and all.”
Carley smiled a sympathetic smile. “Oh, I remember. And you guys would stop by and see us for a few days. And I was always obsessed over Glenda’s homemade cherry pies.”
Glenda was Jimmy’s deceased wife. She died of cancer two years ago, and talking about her like this with Jimmy, made Carley feel as if she had never left them.
“Oh, yes. I do recall those days. So don’t give your mother a hard time over work, okay?” Then the fueling stopped, and the machine faded back to silence.
“Okay,” Carley said as she paid him for his service.
“But I do have something for ya. You might be a little too old, because you’re about what, seventeen now?”
Carley nodded her head. “Seventeen.”
Then Jimmy pulled out his all-time favorite gift from his back pocket: jelly beans.
Carley smiled as she took the bag like she did every summer. “Thanks, Jimmy.”
“You’re welcome. Come back and see me please if you don’t see me over at your house,” Jimmy said with a smile.
“I will. Bye.” Then Carley pulled off to head over to the Strip.
The Strip was like no other road in Myrtle Beach. It was the closest road you could travel and still be right at the sand of the beach. It was also the most busiest of all the roads; it had night clubs, grand hotels, arcades, gift stores, seafood restaurants that led out onto piers, museums, and all sorts of attractions for people. Carley couldn’t travel on the sidewalk in the golf cart because of all the people walking to and fro, so she had to cruise on the main road. But this allowed her to see everything equally, even though she had already seen everything dozens of times. Yet, it all felt new to her every year, especially when the sun went down and the stores lit up everything.
As Carley traveled down the Strip, she not only examined the places, but the people as well. The guys always wore some sort of board shorts with tank tops or simple t-shirts on to match their sandals. The girls usually wore short shorts, tank tops, and sandals. However, every face looked different. Every person had a different accent. Some looked like they came from California with their tans " not to mention the word “dude” escaping their mouth in every other sentence, and others looked like they came from the sticks with paleness from head to toe and a country accent to match.
Pulling her eyes form observation, Carley then realized she was holding up a line of cars, so she hit the gas pedal to speed up. She was looking for a food vendor beside the shore, which wasn’t too hard to find; she would save the jelly beans for later. She turned off from the Strip and into a vacant parking lot that was right in front of the ocean, parking the golf cart. She made her way to the vendor that was connecting the sand and the Strip.
“Can I have a vanilla milkshake and a salted pretzel please?” Carley asked.
“Sure,” said the man behind the glass.
Within a few minutes, Carley was walking down the ocean shore, nibbling on her pretzel and sipping her milkshake.
Carley felt like the temperature had increased since she left, but maybe it was just the drainage of energy the current temperature was causing. She made her way to the wet, smooth sand so she could get closer to the sound of the soothing waves. It was something about their melodic pattern that calmed her, made her feel safe and happy. The soft trickle of water on her flip-flops even helped cool her off. As she continued eating, she knew everyone else had to be hot just as well. People had small motor fans in their hands for a nice breeze; some had even stopped reading their latest novel project in order to use it as fan. And by the looks of the population, it looked as if the heat was too much for the people who had came out from their hotel rooms so early in the morning. They had apparently retreated back to their cool rooms and cold swimming pools.
By the time Carley had eaten half of her pretzel, her stomach declined the rest thanks to an empty cup of vanilla milkshake. Thus, she threw her cup away in a nearby trashcan; and she was about to throw her pretzel in there as well, but she heard some loud gawks from near the water.
It was a group of seagulls.
Carley smiled to herself. Feeding the seagulls were always fun.
She tiptoed towards them, as close as she dared. Then she tore the pretzel into small pieces, chunking it into the crowd of birds. They immediately started attacking the food as if it was buzzards to a fallen animal.
She watched in fascination.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a black and white dog lunged into the group of birds. He began barking at the ones who had pieces of the pretzel in their mouths. He wanted it.
“Hey! Go away! Stop it!” Carley shouted as she began charging at the dog. “Stop!”
“Roscoe! Get back here!” she heard a male voice yell from a distance.
But it was too late. The birds were gone, and the food was scattered over the sand. The dog lay innocently, looking up at Carley while chewing on some of his won prize.
Carley knew she couldn’t be angry with such a cute dog that gave her those eyes.
“I’m so sorry. Roscoe! You animal,” said a guy in plaid shorts with an American Eagle t-shirt on. He grabbed the dog’s leash then. He was tall, a little taller than Carley, with dirty blonde hair and green eyes. He looked like he worked out a bit too, Carley noticed. He had to be around her age for sure though. He looked late-high school, early-college like.
“It’s okay. Really. It’s fine. I was just feeding the birds for something to do anyway. He shouldn’t have taken their food like that though,” Carley said.
“Yeah. He hasn’t been out of the house in days, and my parents talked me into taking him for a walk,” the guy replied.
“What kind of dog is he?”
“A border collie. My parents are fond of him, so I’m just glad he didn’t get too far. He can be a rascal sometimes,” he said as he scratched the dog’s head.
“Your parents are fond of him or you are fond of him?” Carley smirked.
The guy laughed. “Both, I guess.”
“My name’s Carley Brooks.” Then she stuck out her hand.
“Nice to meet you Carley Brooks. I’m Walker Price.” He shook her hand.
“Nice to meet you too Walker,” Carley said.
They both smiled at each other.
“So, do you always just feed the birds for fun? You can’t find something better to do at the beach?” Walker asked with a small laugh.
Carley smiled. “Not really. I come here every summer, and it’s always the same. So feeding the birds is what I have been reduced to.”
“What a shame…” Walker laughed again. “So where are you staying at now?”
“Just a few miles down the Strip. You?”
“Several miles up the Strip. I was just getting ready to head back when Roscoe took off.”
“Oh. Do you need a ride? My golf cart is just parked some ways up by the Strip. I can take you if you want,” Carley insisted.
“No thanks. I need the exercise anyway. It’s a beautiful day out, after all. Well, I guess Roscoe and I should be going. It was nice to meet you Carley.”
“Yeah. Nice to meet you too.”
Then Walker and his dog disappeared back up towards the Strip.
Carley shrugged to herself. Then she went back to the Strip herself to head into the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. She had already been inside it of course, but maybe she would get lucky and they would have added something new to the collection of weird things they already had. However, after spending almost an hour inside, she realized luck wasn’t on her side this time.
Afterwards, Carley decided she would go buy something for her dad. It had been a while since she had bought him something from the beach. Seeing as how he never strayed far enough from the beach house to buy himself something. The farthest he ever made it was to the sand by the ocean with Carley’s mom so they could tan together or to their family’s favorite restaurant a few blocks from their house. It was just like living at home, except they had the Atlantic Ocean for their backyard.
Carley ended up finding herself in a small beach shop, where she bought her father a shark tooth necklace and one of those corny, yet funny, t-shirts that made a smart remark to the reader. Every year, Carley worked during the school year, maintaining school, extracurricular activities, and a job. Then, during the summer, she would use the money she set aside for the beach when she went. This was where she got most her money from. If she ever ran out, her parents would lend her some.
After leaving the beach shop, Carley decided she wanted to find an arcade, but the closest one she knew of was several miles up the Strip. But she had time; it was only about four-thirty in the afternoon after all. So she started her trip.
Her trip lasted a good thirty minutes or so. Carley knew when she was nearing the arcade because she could hear the game machines beeping and buzzing from a mile away, even among the busy people. She neared her destination, seeing neon lights flash out the open doorway and onto the street. Then, just as she was about to veer from the road and into a parking spot, she heard it:”Roscoe!”
She looked ahead on the sidewalk and saw a young guy running through the crowd and after a barking dog.
Carley smiled and shook her head to herself. Then she hit the gas pedal, catching up to Walker within seconds. After all, her dad did vamp up their golf cart to suit his speeding needs when he traveled on it in his heyday.
“You just can’t keep a hold of that dog can you?” Carley yelled out the side of the golf cart with a small laugh.
Walker was running alongside the golf cart now. “Apparently not.” He laughed in a breathy kind of way.
“Do you want that ride now? We can catch up to him a lot faster than you can.”
“I can run pretty fast, but okay.”
Carley slowed down the acceleration, allowed Walker to jump into the passenger seat, and then hit the gas fully. She was beeping the horn the entire way, and people were yelling at her to slow down. In fact, she almost hit a bigger lady who was crossing the street with bags up to her elbow filled with gift items. The lady began hooting at her and then she carried on about the youth being reckless these days, but the rest Carley was unable to hear a she continued trailing Roscoe.
Suddenly, Roscoe left the sidewalk of the Strip to continue his escape on the mushy texture of the shoreline. Carley wheeled the golf cart to a screeching halt beside the sidewalk as she and Walker leaped from the locomotive.
They both looked like they were running for their lives. Within a flash however, Walker was gone way ahead of her.
Dang, that boy can run! she thought. Before she could count to ten, Walker had Roscoe by the leash and was headed back her way.
Worn out, Carley sat down right where she was: on the soft, hot sand. She was breathing heavily.
Walker came back up breathing heavy as well, though not as hard.
“You…are a…fast…runner…I see…” Carley managed to heave out.
Walker nodded. “Told you so.” Then he grinned widely. “You don’t asthma or anything, do you?”
Carley shook her head. “I just haven’t…ran like that since…middle school.”
Walker smiled. “Come on.” He helped her get onto her feet, and then they began walking back to the golf cart with Roscoe tightly between then.
“Do you street race or something?” Walker asked.
Carley looked at him quizzically. “No. Why?” She was feeling better now. More calm.
“’Cause that was some pretty wicked driving you did. I can only imagine what you can do in a car,” Walker teased.
Carley laughed. “Oh, you would be surprised. You would have to wear a seat belt and apply some duct tape to hold you down when I drive.”
Walker cackled aloud.
A few moments passed as they continued walking back to the cart.
“So what are you doing this far up the Strip? Following me, perhaps?” Walker wiggled an eyebrow.
“Ha! As if. I was actually going to the arcade when I heard you yell for Roscoe. And I figured I might lend a helping hand before he steals someone else’s pretzel from hungry birds.”
“Touché. Mind if I join you on this quest to the arcade?”
“Sure. It’s just a few ways back down the Strip.”
“Okay. Just promise you won’t kill me or my dog by driving recklessly again.” Walker grinned.
“Well, I can promise not to kill your dog. You…I’m not so sure about.”
Then Carley got into the driver’s seat of the golf cart with a laugh. Walker’s jaw merely dropped a few feet open.
“Are you gonna stand there all day or are you gonna come join me so I can beat your butt in air hockey?”
“You’re on!” Walker exclaimed. Then he and Roscoe climbed inside and they headed to the arcade.
After a good hour of playing games in the arcade, Walker had beat Carley six out of the ten games played.
“Just so ya know, I let you win those four times,” Walker told her as they approached the prize counter with their won tickets. Apparently, they didn’t have a “no dog” policy because no one said anything to them as Roscoe trailed behind them.
“If you say so. But I think I did pretty well. Next time, I’ll beat you all the way.”
“Sure.” Walker said sarcastically, laying the tickets on the counter.
The man behind it counted them after a moment and gave them a section to choose their prize from.
“You pick,” Walker told Carley.
“No. You won more than I did. You pick,” she insisted.
“Okay then… I’ll take the pair of fabric bracelets there.”
The man got them from under the glass counter and handed them to Walker. “Here you go, sir. Enjoy your evening.”
Then Carley, Walker, and Roscoe walked outside of the buzzing room and onto the sidewalk.
“Here. One for you,” he handed one of the patterned bracelets to Carley, “and one for me.” Then he slid his onto his wrist.
“Thank you,” Carley told him with a smile.
“You’re welcome. You earned it. After all, I’m still alive after your driving and I got the chance to beat your butt in the arcade.”
Carley laughed. “You barely even beat me. I say you just got lucky.”
By now, the sun was setting down near the horizon. The temperature was cooling off into the mid-seventies and the party people were coming out to the Strip. It was about to get packed.
“It’s getting crowded. Let’s head to the shore. I hear they are going to do a firework show to start off the first official day of summer,” Walker said.
“Okay. Let’s go then,” Carley replied.
So they hopped onto the seats of the golf cart and got back onto the Strip. They parked the cart in a nearly-vacant parking lot meant for smaller vehicles. There was a row of street food vendors nearby, who obviously anticipated the big crowd for the fireworks.
“Let’s go get something to eat over there. To make up for the pretzel,” Walker said.
“Okay. But I’m buying,” Carley said.
Walker nodded. He knew better to argue with a girl who had her mind set.
Carley and Walker both ordered a hot dog with an ice cream cone and a pretzel for Roscoe. They both found themselves sitting on the shore, each eating a hot dog with Roscoe to the side enjoying his salty food.
“So do you live at the beach?” Carley asked.
“Yeah. My family and I stay on up the Strip. I’m an only child though.”
“Oh. I live down in Columbia. My parents have been bringing me here ever since I was five. No siblings. Don’t know if I would want any though.”
“You’re a senior?”
“Will be when school starts back up. You?”
“Just finished this past school year. I’m going to USC in the fall. I got a scholarship for running track and one for my grades.”
“Smart guy, huh?” Carley smiled as she finished her hot dog and began licking her melting ice cream. “I haven’t decided where I’m going yet. If I do go anywhere in South Carolina, it will be USC. I think I wanna be a journalist. What do you want to be?”
“A radiologist. Maybe you can write an article on me then one day.”
“Maybe. I have the right credentials and all. I’m just not one-hundred percent sure that being a journalist is my goal. My mom keeps trying to pressure me into being a lawyer like her, and my dad wants me be a basic tomboy and go into the construction business.”
“Yeah. My parents want me to pursue their careers also. But I have to do what I want to do, ya know?”
A loud explosion erupted and the sky lit up with a bright white light.
“The show is starting,” Walker muttered.
Carley watched in amazement at the sky. It was as if a star was exploding every three seconds and letting off small sparks. The colors were extraordinary and the designs were masterpieces. The sound was so loud that it made Carley’s heart vibrate.
As Carley watched, Walker reached over to her ear and yelled “Boo!” just as the sky went silent for another three seconds.
Carley screamed loudly. Her hand automatically lunged up to his face and nudged his ice cream cone across his nose.
They both laughed hysterically.
“I am so sorry!” she pleaded in between laughs.
“I had it coming,” Walker said with his laughs.
“You really did. Scaring me like that. You’re lucky I didn’t have any pepper spray!”
Walker grimaced as he wiped himself off, and Carley laughed again.
Then the fireworks heated up for the finale. The lights exploded with no pause, and colors blended together. It was as if guns were going off in the hearts of Carley and Walker. The explosions increased to the maximum, and the pair looked at one another.
Their eyes met and the lights of the sky danced in the other’s eyes. The noise was definite and reality was far away.
Walker leaned forward towards Carley just as she did. Their faces were millimeters apart. They could taste each other’s breath. The strawberry flavor of Carley’s ice cream washed upon Walker’s lips, just as his chocolate flavor did on hers.
Then their lips met, and the beach went silent. The lights were gone, and yet, the passion lingered. It wasn’t world-shattering, but it was heart-searing. It opened up the two people who had met only a few hours ago. It bonded them like no other, as if they were sun-kissed inside.
© 2011 Joshua Donahue
Added on June 23, 2011
Last Updated on June 23, 2011
AboutUPDATE! 04.11.13 Oh, how I have missed writing deeply. I always plan to return to this site ASAP, but it just never happens. I have not been inspired really. But I want to be inspired again. I wa.. more..