Seabreeze Sunrise

Seabreeze Sunrise

A Story by Thea Sebastian
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Shhhhhhh.

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It was a real Happily Ever After, that was what everyone said. Summers on Cape Cod. Winters in Santa Barbara. Private airplanes to watch the Masters Open. Three children, probably two boys and a girl. A silver SUV. Yearly fundraisers for the Republican Party.

Celie took a long swig of margarita, digging her toes into the warm sand. It was a beautiful summer’s day. The sky was a swathe of delicate, baby’s breath blue, haphazardly dotted with puffy clouds. The weather was pleasantly warm, combining August heat and the cool, refreshing touch of an ocean breeze.

“Another drink?” the bartender asked, appearing at her side. Without bothering to look, she held out her glass.

“I’m not even a Republican.”

The bartender gave no response, deftly raising his pitcher. A tiny splash of the frothy drink, premium Jose Cuervo and crushed ice, splattered noiselessly onto the sand.

“I’m guessing that you don’t care.”

“What"that you’re not a Republican?”

“Yes.”

“Should I?”

Celie shook her head, feeling some of her hair, a brown bob with golden highlights, drift before her eyes. She brushed it away. “No.”

The bartender nodded. “Is there anything else?”

Without saying a word, Celie took a long draught. Then another. And another. Seconds later, she lowered her glass, empty, onto the chair arm.

“Another drink?” she asked, her gaze still fixed on the ocean.

“Same thing?”

“No.” Following this, there was a short pause. Then Celie took a deep breath, her face impassive beneath dark sunglasses and a blue scarf. “I had something years ago. It was called a Seabreeze Sunrise. You heard of it?”

For a moment, the bartender was silent.

“Well?” Celie repeated.

“Is that really a good idea?” he asked finally, his voice quiet.

Celie’s fingers, still curled around her glass, tightened imperceptibly. “It’s none of your business.”

Another moment passed, silent but for her breath and the lapping waves. Then the bartender nodded. “Well, I’ll have to make a new pitcher. It’ll take some time.”

“How long?” Celie asked. “Ten minutes?”

“Fifteen.”

She nodded. Then she leaned back, stretching her legs to catch the fading sunlight. As she did so, the light glinted softly on her skin, now tanned to perfection, and painted toenails. It sparkled on her tee, a tiny rip now damaging one sleeve, and the khaki of her shorts. Her eyelids drifted shut. “I can wait.”

 

 

“Are you sure?” her mother asked her, thirty minutes beforehand, her voice doubtful. “You look nervous. Champagne’s so good at calming the nerves. Why not have some now? Start early.”

“Because dinner’s in an hour.” Celie had said it twice now.

Her mother shrugged, carelessly capping off her glass. “Well, the place looks simply beautiful, doesn’t it? Jeanette has really outdone herself. Why, I’ve never seen so much gauze! And the flowers are simply exquisite. Imported straight from the Netherlands, they say! You can always tell.”

Celie nodded. “You sure can.”

“Did you talk to the caterer?” her mother asked. “Well, no, of course you didn’t, why would you? But the food’s all ready to go. A vanilla cake with a hundred roses. Four dozen tortes! They’ve really forgotten nothing!”

“That’s right.”

“But some of the guests!” her mother went on, taking another sip, not caring when some stuck to her chin. “Well, the Murdochs and the Pattersons were the first to arrive. And they’re just lovely! But the Harrisons and the Radcliffes are a different story. Have you met them? No, you would know. Such bores, they are! Such terrible bores! Why, I even said so to Jeanette, not an hour ago. And didn’t she just agree! But we just had to invite them. As you know, they’ve always been great supporters of Caleb. That’s what Jeanette said. Oh! And have you seen your dress? They made the changes that you wanted. I saw it, hanging in your room. It looks terrific, especially the new neckline. In fact, it’s simply adorable now!”

            Celie pushed herself to her feet, walking restlessly to the window. As she did so, her sleeve caught on the table. She sighed impatiently, tugging it away. When it tore slightly, she ignored it.

Directly beneath the window, the staff lot was just visible. Unlike the guest lot, brimming with Porsches and Beemers and Mercedes, the staff lot held a motley cluster of rundown Volvos and Fords. Near the far edge, a red and black clunker, paint peeling and hood dented, was parked at an odd angle. One hubcap was missing.

“Celie?” her mother asked.

Silence.

“Celie!”

Celie turned around, reaching for her handbag. “I’m going for a walk.”

Her mother blinked once, fingering her glass. “Dinner’s in an hour. There’s really no time for"”

Celie looked at the window again. She looked at the lot. “I’ll just be a moment.”

“Celie.”

Again, no reply.

“Celie!”

“What?”

“You forgive me, don’t you?” The words were quiet, eating through the air.

There was a long pause. “Yes.”

“It was for the best. You know that, don’t you? He would’ve ruined everything. If he’d come in"” Silence. “Well, it was just too new. That’s all. Just too new.”

“Yes.” Celie said it mechanically, nodding her head. The sun would be setting soon. One hour until dinner. Too early for champagne. Time to go.

“Jesus! Can you stop saying that?” her mother demanded, making Celie look up.

“What?”

“Yes!”

“Sure.”

Her mother sighed. “I did what I had to do.”

“I know.”

Now came another sigh. And this time, when her mother spoke, her tone was tired, weary, old. “Fine. Do whatever you want. Just"” She stopped. “Just don’t make dinner wait.”

Celie grabbed her bag. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”

“And wear something nice.”

Celie nodded, turning away. “Call me if you need me. I’ll be on the beach.”

Her mother looked at her. Then she looked away, draining her glass. “I know.”

 

 

“I need to see Celie.”

“She’s not here.”

“Please. This is important.”

“It’s two o’clock in the morning.”

“I know. I’m sorry. It’s just, well, I need to see her.”

“She’s asleep.”

“Please!”

Her mother had paused then. This was four months ago.

In her room, lying on her bed, Celie could imagine the scene clearly. Her mother was silhouetted in the doorway, her nightgown a bilious white. Kyle was standing on the doorstep, long arms dangling at his sides. Please!

“I’m sorry.”

And the door closed. In the darkness, Celie opened her eyes.

“Kyle. Kyle!”

Kyle stopped, standing in the empty road. The house was just beyond view, buried behind a tall fir and parked Volvo. Salt filled the air.

“What are you doing here?” Celie asked.

In one hand, he was holding an empty Heineken. His breath reeked.

“Is it true?” he asked hoarsely.

She was silent.

“Is it true?”

“Kyle.”

“What?”

“Don’t do this.” Her was soft, pleading.

He nodded, taking a swig of amber liquid. “When did it happen?”

“Last week.”

“Must’ve been real romantic. Flowers and s**t. Probably a private airplane. Am I right?”

She said nothing. He looked at her hand, the sparkling diamond, the golden band. He took another swig of beer.

Am I?” he snarled.

Still, Celie just stared at the pavement, shivering slightly, her body shivering at the April air. “You’d better go.” Her voice was dead.

He nodded. “I am. But before I do, just tell me one thing.”

She shook her head. “Don’t do this to"”

“Do you love him?”

Celie looked away, her heartbeat fast, the spring night like a blanket around her. “This was a bad idea. I shouldn’t have followed you.”

“Do you love him?” Kyle asked again, louder this time. Then he reached out, his fingers clamping onto her arm. And suddenly, there they were, streaming back, memory after memory after memory.

Lying in his bed, summer sunlight dripping through the window, falling into a June morning.

Piling into his car, armed with DVDs and Twizzlers and Miller Light.

Sea. Salt. Scrambled eggs. Shade.

Turning the television volume down so that his parents would never hear.

Turning it up when it was better that they did. Locking his door.

Locking it again. Shhhhhh.

Making out crazily in the Falmouth High School bathroom, hiding from the hall monitor. Anyone there?"It’s just me. Kyle.

You’re not smoking in there, are you?"Not a chance. Bad for the lungs.

’Fraid of losing that slap shot?"You got it.

Good luck next week."Thanks. We’ll need it.

Jumping from the old dock, body braced against the needles, shards, of icy water.

Making bonfires at the beach at night.

Doing crosswords, wedged into the booths of Steve’s Pizza.

Singing"

Badly.

Touching"

Madly. Feeling his hand in hers.

Being there"

With him.

Shhhhh.

Kyle shook his head, releasing her arm. “Nevermind. I have my answer.”

He started to leave.

 

The next day, Celie crept to the breakfast wearing an old tee and shorts. “Anything new?”

Standing at the sink, her mother shrugged. “The Seabreeze called. They’ve got an opening for August 8.”

“August 8.”

“Yeah.”

She was pouring Frosted Flakes. Her hand stilled. “That’s great. That’s just"” She closed the cereal box. “That’s just great.”

Her mother nodded. Silence fell. Beneath the table, Celie crossed her legs. Tightly.

Shhhhhhhh.

 

 

“Will you be okay without me?” Kyle had asked softly, standing in Logan airport. This was two years and two months ago.

Celie nodded vaguely.

By now, his equipment had already been loaded onto the plane. He was just holding a carryon bag. “It’s just for the summer. And you can call whenever.”

“Do you have to go?” Celie asked him. It was the hundredth time.

“If I want my scholarship. But next summer"”

“Everything will be normal again. I know.” She sighed. “You told me.” Then, again for the hundredth time, she shook her head. “Alaska. Jesus.”

A week later, Cape Cod was in season. The waiting lobby of McGreggor Family Dining had become a hub of Ralph Lauren and Rolex and Lacoste. Celie knew the signs. She knew the look.

Summer kids.

He was usually with his friends, a fearsome foursome of blue blood and blonde hair. But one night, perhaps three weeks into the summer, he came alone. “I’ve got a confession to make.” So he said to her, fiddling with his menu.

Celie waited, pen in hand, lightly tapping her notepad. Her shift was halfway over. She was going to a movie that night.

“I hate fish sticks.”

Celie blinked once, the pen pausing. “I’m sorry. You what?”

The boy nodded. “This sounds weird. But"” He colored. And in that moment, she got it.

“I have a boyfriend.” The words came out suddenly, perhaps a bit quicker, harsher than she had intended. She stared at the wooden tabletop, her cheeks also burning. The silence felt sticky, long. “I just, well, wanted to tell you. You know, before you"”

“Made a complete fool of myself?” Caleb asked dryly.

“Something like that.”

The boy smiled wryly, glancing again at his menu, his pose a bit too nonchalant. “Thanks for the thought. But with all due respect, you’re about twenty years too late.”

When she retreated to the serving area, a chubby redhead pulled Celie aside. “Who is that?” the redhead demanded.

“Who"Caleb?” Celie asked.

“You know his name?”

“I know everyone’s name.”

“Uh huh.”

Celie sighed. “He’s no one. Just a customer.”

“Uh huh.”

Celie sighed a second time, glancing at the order board. “Eighteen just flashed. Isn’t that your table?”

With a curse, the redhead scurried away.

Not three days later, the boy came back. Catching her gaze, he shrugged. “Well, sue me. I had a change of heart.”

“About what?” Celie asked, grabbing a fresh notepad. “The fish sticks?”

Caleb grinned. “You’d be surprised. The damn things grow on you.”

This time, Celie smiled back.

“What was that?” her mother asked her sharply, perhaps two minutes later, peering avidly through the glass window that separated the takeout area and the dining room. Fresh from her shift, ten hours at Driftwood drycleaners, her face was bare of makeup and her hair was in a ponytail.

Ignoring the question, Celie handed her mother a white bag. “I got you clam chowder tonight. And some coleslaw. I would’ve gotten you the apple pie, but Cleo was on a rage. She wouldn’t let me near it.”

“That blonde kid,” her mother said. “He’s been staring at you. Who is he?”

“I added a couple of salt packets,” Celie said, still ignoring her. “Let me know if you need more. And"”

“Celie.”

“And I forgot to add rolls. But we probably have some leftover, so just check the"”

“Celie!”

“What?”

“Listen to me. You know that I like Kyle. Have I ever gotten in the way? Ever? Even when"”

Celie shook her head, glancing at the clock. “My break is almost over. I have to go.”

Her mother snorted. “What? So are you saying that you like it here? Waiting tables? Cleaning coleslaw and baby puke from wooden highchairs?” Her mother sighed. “Fine then. Do what you want. But just"” She paused. “Just think about it.”

 

She had no more minutes on her cell. She waited until midnight, the witching hour, long after her mother had fallen asleep. Then she padded into the silent kitchen.

Once there, the landline felt clunky in her hand. “Hello? Kyle?” Pause. “Yeah.” Deep breath. “It’s me. Celie.”

Far away, a summer breeze rustled the trees. In the silence of the empty kitchen, it seemed to be saying"

Shhhhhhh.

 

 

He had glimpsed her first. Looking back, she knew what he must have seen. She knew the rippling river of mahogany hair and the matching eyes. She knew the long legs, peeking from a jean miniskirt. She knew the nose, not quite crooked and note quite straight, bifurcating a round face and dark eyebrows. She could envision, even now, the lacy tank top, scarcely concealing teenage breasts and skinny shoulders.

Just then, she was standing with her friends, giggling amidst a crowd that was too old for them, too rich, too drunk. Her chin was lifted slightly, boldly, daring anyone to question her presence, to tell her that she should go.

            After a while, he lost sight of her. She became engulfed in the colorful margaritas and martinis and blonde hair and skimpy sarongs. The hours passed. But just before the night ended, he spotted her again. She was sitting on a rough rock, staring at the sparkling sea. Her makeup had run a little, giving her eyes like a raccoon. One arm was smudged with dirt.

“Hey.” When he sat beside her, she looked up. A frown touched her lips.

“You’re the bartender, aren’t you?”

He nodded. “Yeah. Want a drink?”

“No.”

“Good. I wouldn’t give you one.”

Hearing this, Celie frowned a bit deeper. “Don’t you have somewhere to be? A job to be doing?”

“Five minute break.”

“Liar.”

He shrugged. “Have it your way.” Then he left.

Twenty minutes later, the night reaching a close, Celie stopped by the bar. Her friends had already disappeared. She was alone now.

“My name is Celie.”

The boy nodded, drying off a margarita glass.

“Well?” Celie asked impatiently. “Do you have a name?”

“Yeah.” He grabbed another glass. “Kyle.”

There was a brief silence.“Well?” Celie said again.

“What?”

“Do you have anything to say to me?”

“Yeah.”

She waited.

“Good night.”

Falmouth was small. By the next day, she knew everything. His name was Kyle Dufeau. He was a hockey goalie and local legend. An incoming senior, he had everything going for him. Bound for college, so they said. Positioned for a scholarship, so they hoped.

 “There’s a drink for you.”

So said a young waiter, a week later, handing her a drink. Celie’s date at the time, a college kid from upstate New York, shot the boy a menacing frown. “There must be a mistake. Celie didn’t order anything.”

The waiter shook his head. “No mistake. It’s complements of the bartender. He said that it’s a new thing. Something called a"” He paused. “A Seabreeze Sunrise. And he wanted you to know that it, well, took a while.”

Update New York snorted. “You’re kidding me, right? It’s a f*****g daiquiri. How long could it take?”

“Fifteen minutes.” The reply was instant. Then the waiter darted away.

Celie stared at the drink. Fifteen minutes.

Eleven minutes later, Update New York went to the bathroom. When he did so, Celie went to the bar.

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“Done what?” Kyle asked, scooping some margarita from a blender.

Celie frowned. “Don’t be a moron.”

In reply, Kyle just shrugged, slapping a brimming glass onto the counter. “I’m not. I’m being helpful.”

“Helpful?” Celie echoed. “Helpful? You call this"”

“Three minutes now.”

“What?” Celie asked him, blinking once.

“You have three minutes left.”

“To do what?”

“To get rid of him.”

Celie laughed. “You’re joking! You can’t say s**t like that. You don’t even know me!”

“Really?” Kyle asked softly. Then, without another word, he leaned across the bar and kissed her. “Then teach me.”

Within three minutes, though it was much closer to two, they were tumbling into his car. “Cripes!” Celie said, suddenly seeing the peeling paint and dented hood.

“What?” Kyle asked.

“Your car! It has leprosy. Or no, maybe it’s bleeding. And why the hell did you choose red and black? It looks like"” She stopped. “Oh. Oh God!”

“What now?” Kyle asked her, his expression amused.

“The smell. Did something die in here?”

He shrugged. “Oh. That’d be my gear. I should probably throw it in the trunk.”

“You mean the incinerator!” Celie exclaimed.

Kyle grinned. But then he kissed her again, harder this time, and she forgot everything else.

“Another drink?” he asked lightly, his hand skimming down her back.

Celie nodded mutely, every cell lighting on fire. A moment later, the door closed. The light dimmed.

Shhhhhhhh.

 

 

© 2010 Thea Sebastian


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Added on July 13, 2010
Last Updated on July 14, 2010
Tags: Short story, fiction, Cape Cod, wedding, summer

Author

Thea Sebastian
Thea Sebastian

San Diego, CA



About
My name is Thea Sebastian. In age, I am not yet a quarter of a century, though I am quite close to it. As far as goals go, I would ultimately like to publish a book, run for office, become an expert s.. more..

Writing