Summers of Love: Elizabeth’s Story
I walked along the shore trying to focus on the peacefulness of the ocean waves crashing instead of the memories battling in my head. I was fine earlier but then a song that described how I feel about him came on the radio and suddenly I remembered everything as if it had happened yesterday, and not four years ago when I was 24 years old. The scene unfolded before my eyes:
I was walking along the beach when I saw him for the first time: a beautiful stranger with sparkling green eyes and a smile that could turn your world upside down. I was shy so I didn’t have the nerve to go up to him and say hi so instead I just kept walking steadily along the beach, trying to pay attention to where I was going and what was going on around me instead of him. I walked for about 15 more minutes then turned around to go back the way I came. By the time I reached the place I had seen him, he was gone. I needn’t have worried though because the next day, I was standing in line to buy ice cream when I saw him again. He came and stood in line behind me. When it was my turn, I placed my order of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream with hot fudge and M&Ms on top along with a bottle of cold water. Another server came out and asked the handsome man from the day before if he was ready to order. While he was still ordering I went to the cash register to pay and was trying to sort through my money to find exact change. It looked like I was short about 8 cents and I was just opening my mouth to apologize about being a few cents short when I hear the handsome stranger behind me say the strangest thing.
He said, “I’d also like to pay for the beautiful lady’s ice cream and water please.” Then he smiled at me.”
Then he gave me a heart – stopping smile that left me scrambling for coherent words to speak. When I could finally find my voice, I spoke.
“Thank you,” I managed to say.
I sat down at a table that had a view of the ocean and put the spoon in my ice cream to take my first bite. As I was enjoying my first spoonful of ice cream, the beautiful stranger came over to my table and asked if he could sit down and I gestured for him to do so.
After he was seated, he said, “It was my pleasure. I would have hated to see a beautiful lady like you frown because she couldn’t get her ice cream due to being a few cents short.”
I stared at him half in embarrassment half in utter amazement.
“How did you know I didn’t have correct change?” I asked.
“I could tell by the apologetic look in your eyes,” He responded.
My face turned bright red as I stated, “Oh my goodness! I am so embarrassed. I don’t usually come short-changed. It’s just that I forgot my wallet at home and I had almost the right amount of money except for I was 8 cents short. I was actually hoping they’d let it slip and give me the ice cream and water anyway.”
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We all have days where we forget our wallets or end up being a few pennies short. No worries. Please don’t be embarrassed. I would have offered to pay anyway. I saw you on the beach yesterday,” He replied.
“You did?” I asked. “I saw you but didn’t think you noticed me and all,” I added.
Smiling, he said, “I noticed. I almost walked over to you to talk to you, but I barely dodged being hit in the head with a volley ball and then my friend said it was my turn to serve so I did. I don’t usually play volley ball, but my friends asked me to play so I did.
Before I could stop the words I blurted out, “I cut my walk short and turned around after about 15 minutes in hopes I would see you again but you were gone.”
“I left about 20 minutes after I saw you walk by, to go to work,” He replied.
After a short pause to think, he added, “When I saw you standing in front of me in line for ice cream, I had already considered buying your ice cream for you, whether or not you had correct change so that we could start a conversation “
“Oh,” was all I could get out in response.
“Yeah, so no need for embarrassment because I was already going to offer to pay. If anything, it worked out on my favor that you were a few pennies short. It gave me an opportunity to talk to you and introduce myself,” the handsome stranger stated.
Smiling, I said, “Which you haven’t done yet. The introducing yourself part anyway.”
He smiled back and said, “I’m sorry. Where are my manners? My name is Alex.”
“It’s okay, Alex. My name is Elizabeth. My friends and family call me Liz,” I responded.
“It’s nice to meet you, Elizabeth,” Alex said.
“It’s nice to meet you too, Alex. And you can call me Liz if you want. I am fine with either Elizabeth or Liz though,” I informed him.
Smiling, Alex responded, “I’ll keep that in mind.”
After we both finished our ice creams, we spent the rest of the afternoon together, walking along the beach mainly. At some point, Alex asked me if I had a bicycle and I told him I did and we made plans to go bike riding the next day. I let him know that I do indeed have a bike and we made arrangements for him to pick me up at my place at around 11:30AM. It turned out to be another fun day and he brought food for a picnic. We spent most of the rest of the summer together and we fell in love.
I was yanked back into the present day when a beach ball hit me in the arm. I look up and see Alex’s friend that was with him the day we first saw each other four years ago walking towards me.
He said, “Hey, sorry Liz. Can I please get the beach ball back?”
I was momentarily taken aback, not expecting to see Alex’s friend since I hadn’t seen him since shortly before Alex abruptly ended things with us by disappearing from my life without so much as a phone call, so it took me a moment to understand.
“James?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s me. Sorry for hitting you with the beach ball. I thought I could catch it but I missed,” James replied.
“No problem. I guess it is partially my fault too for not paying attention. Let’s call it even,” I said as I picked up the beach ball.
“Thanks. Can I have the beach ball back, please?” James asked.
“In a minute. I am just curious as to why I am suddenly bumping into you after nearly four years when I haven’t heard from Alex in about that long,” I replied.
“Must be a coincidence,” James said.
“I don’t think so. You made yourself scarce for 3 years and 8 and a half months and now we are suddenly bumping into each other at the same beach where I first saw you and Alex playing volleyball about 4 years ago, almost to the day,” I responded and looked around. When I didn’t see Alex anywhere, I handed the beach ball back to James.
“Here. I am not saying you purposely bumped into me by the way. I am just, well nevermind. Go back to your beach ball game. Sorry for the delay in returning the ball to you,” I added.
James gave me a funny look and said, “Hey, I’m sorry for the way Alex treated you. This probably doesn’t mean anything but I always liked you and thought he was a fool for breaking up with you and just leaving without letting you know what was going on. I wish I could tell you why he did it but I am not entirely sure why either.”
Surprised by James’ words, I said, “Thank you. I was thinking about him when your beach ball hit me in the arm. But you don’t need to tell him that if you see him or hear from him at all. I mean you can tell him you saw me but he doesn’t need to know I still think of him. Well, have a nice day. I should be going. It was nice to see you again, James.”
I turned and walked away before James could see the tears in my eyes. As I got in my car and drove home, I thought that it was too big a coincidence that the day before it would be exactly four years since I first laid eyes on Alex when he was playing volleyball with his friend James, that the same friend would appear at the same beach and end up hitting me accidentally with his beach ball. I wondered if maybe God had decided to bring Alex back into my life and this was a sign, or if it was the enemy being cruel and reminding me that 4 summers ago, I fell in love with a mysterious man who ran scared. What other explanation could there be? He wasn’t seeing anyone else when we met and I don’t think he met someone knew so running scared is the theory I formed about why he suddenly disappeared from my life and James pretty much confirmed it by telling me that it was wrong of Alex to treat me like that. When I got home, the tears started to freely flow for about two hours.
The next day, after I was awake and dressed, I wondered to myself if I should avoid that one particular beach altogether or if I should go back in hopes that this time instead of James, I see Alex. I thought I had decided to avoid the beach, yet a few minutes later, I somehow found myself walking towards the very beach I didn’t want to go to. It was as if something was pulling me towards that beach, an invisible force. Intrigued, I walked along the beach I’d been hoping to avoid and tried to focus on the ocean waves crashing. A few minutes later, I turned around to leave but when I looked up, I thought I saw Alex in the distance. I shook my head to clear it and then looked again. This time Alex saw me too and froze in place momentarily. James was with him and saw me after Alex stopped walking. James said something I couldn’t make out even from lip reading because they weren’t close enough, and then Alex responded and a moment or two later, Alex started walking towards me. I tried to move to meet him halfway, but my legs wouldn’t cooperate and I was rooted to the spot where I was standing.
When Alex stood about two feet from me, he said tentatively, “Hey.”
I stared at him, trying to find my voice. As soon as I found it, I said, “Hi.”
I looked past Alex at James with a quizzical expression on my face. James nodded and pointed to Alex in a gesture to say that I should hear Alex out. I returned my gaze to Alex and waited to hear what he would say next.
“How are you?” Alex asked.
“To be honest, I am confused. I don’t know why you left four years ago with no explanation, no phone call, nothing,” I replied.
“I’m sorry Liz. I got scared. I never felt the way I did when I was with you with anyone else and I freaked out. I was afraid of getting hurt, but I was also afraid I’d hurt you,” Alex admitted.
“It didn’t work. I still got hurt. I never would have hurt you Alex. I’m in love with you! And I thought you were in love with me too,” I replied.
“I was. I am. I am in love with you Elizabeth,” Alex confessed.
“Why are you suddenly telling me now? Why didn’t you tell me then? And why didn’t you come to me with your concerns?” I asked.
“I was too afraid to tell you then. I am telling you now because yesterday I broke up with my girlfriend of three years after realizing I wasn’t in love with her. I had convinced myself I was to try to get you out of my head but I guess I never got you out of my heart because here I am. When I realized I wasn’t in love with her I broke up with her. Then James came knocking on my door last night and told me he saw you on the beach and you looked lost in thought when he first saw you and thought maybe you were thinking of me. He also said he didn’t think it was a coincidence that he bumped into you and at the same place where we first laid eyes on one another, almost four days to the day. Today he told me to come to this beach with him because he thought maybe you’d be back again,” Alex replied.
“You must have known how I felt. I must have made myself so obvious so many times. And how am I supposed to feel after hearing that you went to such great lengths to convince yourself that you weren’t in love with me that you purposely tried convincing yourself that you were in love with someone else?” I asked in a hurt tone.
“Awful. I’m sorry. And I had an idea but I wasn’t sure. I was an idiot not to talk to you and an even bigger idiot for running. Can you ever forgive me?” Alex asked.
“I forgave you a long time ago. I just wanted to know why you left. More importantly, I wanted you to come back and tell me you love me and want to be with me,” I confessed.
“I know I don’t deserve a second chance, but I am asking you for one anyway,” Alex stated.
“I don’t know. I mean, how do I know you’re not going to run scared again? I never gave you a reason not to trust me but you have given me every reason not to trust you.” I said.
“I know. Please Lizzie, give me another chance. Give me a chance to prove that you can trust me and that I love you,” Alex pleaded.
Alex reached out his hand and touched my face tenderly and then gave me a long, deep, passionate kiss on the lips. I tried not to kiss him back, but he was at an advantage by catching me off-guard and I found myself kissing him back. When he pulled away, he looked as dazed as I did for a moment and then had a question in his beautiful green eyes that were asking me to please give him another chance. I took a minute to pray in my head to God about it and closed my eyes as I waited for God’s answer.
“No more running. If you start feeling scared, or no matter how you feel, you need to talk to me about it,” I told him.
“Absolutely,” Alex agreed.
“I hope you don’t expect me to believe you changed overnight,” I stated.
“Nope. I don’t expect you to believe it. And to be honest, this has been a long time coming. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you for long periods of time at all in the last 3 years and 8 and a half months. I think the change has been occurring for a while and finally caught up to me yesterday. I kept putting off breaking up with my girlfriend because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I finally ended up telling her the truth and was as gentle about it as I could be about it. I also thought about what to say to you and was working up the nerve to talk to you again since I wasn’t sure of my welcome after all this time with the way I left things,” Alex replied.
“I see. Well you have my forgiveness but you need to earn back my trust. I need to know you’re sticking around and that you love me. I need to see that you are faithful and loyal and will always be here, no matter what,” I said.
“I will Liz, I promise. I will stay by your side forever, or for however long you let me be and I will be faithful. If you let me, I will spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love you,” Alex promised me.
“Forever sounds good to me,” I replied.
Alex smiled broadly and then kissed me again deeply and passionately, letting me feel his love for me in the depth of his kiss and I kissed him back as deeply and passionately with the love I feel in my heart for him.
We spent the rest of the summer together catching up and making up for lost time. On our three month anniversary of getting back together, Alex took me to the ice cream parlor where he first introduced himself to me for dessert after dinner and proposed to me. I said yes and we were married on the beach where it all started 5 years after first seeing each other there.