Sarah looked over his shoulder, and could see Lynn down the hall, sitting at the kitchen table, wearing a yellow sundress. Sarah waved.
"Well, come on in," said David, stepping aside, then held up his hand. "Oh, you know the rules, though. Wipe your feet first. I don't want to track any sand in."
She walked in place for a few seconds, dragging her sneakers across the welcome mat. "Good?" she asked, hoping he wouldn't look at her ankles.
"Good enough." He offered to get her a drink, and she followed him in.
David went to the fridge and grabbed her a beer. Sarah sat down, and the chair creaked under her weight. Nobody heard it, except her. She hated that sound. She bet Lynn never even thought about that sort of thing anymore. Not the new and improved Lynn.
She had once been fat, too. She also used to be a brunette, but not anymore. She had lost some weight, and now she was blonde and she was the pretty one and people no longer mistook Sarah and her for sisters. Sarah missed that.
Like Lynn, David had blonde hair, but Sarah didn't think of him as a blonde. This was probably because he told jokes about blondes. He told a joke about a parachuting blonde. Sarah thought it was cute, but Lynn didn't. David had to tell Lynn not to get angry about the jokes. She sometimes forgot she wasn't really blonde, and he had to remind her that he was the blonde, not her. Sarah and Lynn looked at him as if they had never noticed before.
Lynn gathered up the playing cards to start over. David's House Rules stated everybody must play. Sarah didn't particularly want to play, but she didn't really mind, either. She was used to the House Rules. Lynn shuffled the cards. She wasn't very good, the cards were bent and they didn't really shuffle as well as they should have.
They played a drinking version of Go-Fish, until it got boring, and then they played Asshole. Lynn was good at Asshole. After a while, they quit playing. There wasn't much point in playing with only three people.
They sat for a while and played a game called Drink-At-A-Steady-Pace. According to David's House Rules, a player had to continue drinking at a steady pace until something better came along. They drank for a long time, and they listened to music. As a rule, David picked the music. He played a cd he had burned that had Weezer and Dave Matthews Band and Beck, and sometimes they listened, and sometimes sang the words.
After a little while, they started talking. They didn't talk about anything important. They hardly ever did. With other people they talked about POLITICS or WAR or GOD, but they talked about only little things when they were together. That night, they talked about love and sex.
They were all very drunk, so it didn't seem like an important topic. Except Sarah thought she wasn't quite as drunk as the other two, being bigger, and to Sarah it seemed like an uncharacteristically important topic.
Lynn talked about all of the men she had dated over the last few years, since she wasn't fat anymore. David kept asking her questions, but in a way that made Sarah think he might have asked Lynn these questions before. There were lots of names and some of them sounded a little made up, and some of the things she claimed to have done didn't sound like things Lynn would do, but she was a blonde now, so there was no reason for Sarah not to believe her.
She wasn't sure if she had ever had love herself, but she thought it wasn't likely. So when she sometimes thought she loved David, she told herself she was wrong. She thought that was the right thing to do.
David said something to her, but she had been lost in her thoughts. But she heard him when David said to her, "I love you, Sarah."
David was not one to be mean, especially when he was drunk. There are mean drunks, but he wasn't one of them. Lynn was laughing, and Sarah shuddered.
Nobody had ever said that to her before, but she knew if somebody laughed, then it wasn't a good thing.
She said to him, "I love you, too." She tried to keep things normal. She meant it, but she hoped she sounded like she didn't. "You guys are my best friends."
Lynn was still laughing, but she was also saying sorry, and that she had thought of something someone had said earlier in the day. Sarah knew she was lying, but that was okay. It would help things get back to normal. David's face was red, and all of a sudden it seemed very obvious he had blonde hair. His hair became blonder when his face was red. He said, "I meant as a friend." This time Sarah laughed, and she laughed because she knew if he loved her it would have to be as a friend. Friends could share a love and that was normal, but it wasn't the same as LOVE. She told him she knew and of course that was the way he felt. She understood.
They drank for a while, but they didn't sing or talk or play any games. Sarah thought about what he had said, and wished that Lynn had not been there. Of course, he wouldn't have said it then, but still, it would have been nice. Her beer was empty, but she didn't want to get up for another.
David stood up and announced he was going to go skinny-dipping. David never announced things like that. Often he announced things in that exact tone of voice, and it usually meant it was a House Rule, but he had never before announced that skinny-dipping was going to happen. Sometimes he announced that a midnight walk on the beach would be a good idea, and usually everybody went, but nobody ever had to take off any clothing. Sarah didn't like it. She started to say something about how it wasn't such a great idea, but Lynn said it sounded like a wonderful idea. Lynn wasn't fat any more, so of course she liked the idea. She could show off how she wasn't fat. Sarah had to think about this. She said okay because her friends wanted to do it, but she didn't want to. She told herself nothing bad would happen.
It was late at night. They walked toward the beach with beers in their hands, and they didn't wear any shoes. They didn't want to get sand in their shoes. David didn't like sand, which was unfortunate for him, because he lived near the ocean, and sand got everywhere. The asphalt was still hot under their feet even though the sun had set hours ago. Little bits of glass and sand sparkled under the streetlights. The street just ended and there was a dune with long grass growing out of it, parted in the middle. People weren't supposed to climb over the dunes. Sarah didn't know why, but everybody always did, so she didn't feel bad about it. She could hear the ocean and it was shushing, louder and softer, but always shushing. On the other side of the dune was the beach.
Usually, Sarah didn't particularly like the beach, at least during the day, especially during the summer. But she had always thought it was pretty at night.
Crossing the dune with David and Lynn, though, it felt like noon on the hottest day of the year, even if the sky was black with blue clouds obscuring a three-quarter moon. The ocean was black, too, and brackish and full of unseen things. She didn't want to be naked in that. She wanted to know where things ended, and the ocean and the sky never really ended on a night like this one.
They stood on the beach. Lynn was already naked. Her thighs were white and dimpled. Sarah thought Lynn was still a little bit fat, and she felt better for having that thought. Lynn ran to the water, and she screamed when she touched it. There was no one else on the beach, so she could scream and be naked. Only the water shushed her. The water didn't care about her screams or her nakedness, but it shushed her anyway.
Sarah looked at Lynn and Lynn was so blue. She had white skin and blonde hair and a splash of black pubic hair, but she looked blue. She was far away now, down in the water and David and Sarah were way up on the beach. They were alone.
David took off his shirt. He didn't have any hair on his chest. She liked his chest. Then he took off his pants and his underwear. He didn't wear boxers. She had always assumed he had. He was laughing and was drunk and so was Lynn, and Sarah was a little drunk, too. Lynn was her friend and so was David and they were drunk. He said to her, "Don't be scared. Come on."
He was naked then and she knew his face was red. He stepped toward her and then began to lean in, but then he was naked and she wasn't, so he stopped leaning in and ran to the water, toward Lynn. Sarah stood on the beach watching him run from her and toward Lynn.
They were both naked, and they were both laughing and they were splashing each other. They both looked blue, and they were yelling to each other and Sarah could not hear what was said over the shushing of the ocean.
She stood next to a pile of clothing; sundress, khakis, boxers, panties. They were not her clothes. They were theirs. She was dressed and they were naked. She was on the beach and they were in the ocean. She didn't like this. David and Lynn were closer to each other. They weren't splashing each other any more. David yelled Sarah's name and Sarah heard it but didn't take off her clothes. She couldn't see where the blue that was David began and the blue that was Lynn ended. They were in the black ocean that was also the sky. She felt weird and dirty watching her friends skinny dipping. All the while the ocean shushed.
She thought about picking up their clothes. They weren't looking at her. They were looking at the ocean. They were looking at each other. She could pick up their clothes, including the underwear that wasn't a pair of boxers even though she always thought they would be, and she could run. It would be easy to run. She could run to the dune and then over the dune and she might almost fall at the top, but she wouldn't. And she wouldn't even be out of breath. She wanted to take the clothes, and she wanted to run. She didn't. It was just a thought.
David and Lynn were very close in the water. Lynn was blonde and Sarah remembered that David was blonde, blonde and blue like the moon. They stood very close. Sarah stood next to the clothes. She wanted to run with the clothes and she wanted to take off her clothes and she wanted to yell to David. She didn't do any of those things. She stood under a sky that looked like the ocean. Sarah looked at the two in the water and they were sinking into the black. David hadn't called her name again and she had never called his. She wanted to, but she hadn't and he wouldn't have heard her even if she had. The ocean was shushing her.
The clothes sat in a pile next to her. She didn't pick up the pile. She didn't want to touch it. She kicked sand on the clothes. She felt a little better. She kicked a little more, not enough to bury their clothes, but enough to feel better. It was almost an accident, that sand on clothing.
She took a drink of her beer and she walked back to David's house and she felt good. That is, she felt very sad, but she felt good, too.
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