Jack stared down at the burnt and blacked hot dot, just then Another One Bites the Dust started blaring away from his car radio. He looked from the charred black dog to his ruby red Honda parked at the edge of their campsite and frowned. The whole world had conspired to make this the worst beach camping trip in world history. Amy giggled and took the stick from his hand. Squirming her toes into the sand she leaned forward and with a flick of her wrist sent the charred dog off into the sand behind them. "That one didn't look quite right," she said with a smile. "It looked like all the others." He glanced down at the empty damp plastic wrap the hotdogs had come in and his frown deepened. She wrapped her hands around his arm. "There were a couple of good ones." "I'm sorry," he muttered. She stood up, clumps of sand fell away from her white dress. Another thing he'd ruined, this time by forgetting the sleeping bags, towels, blankets, there was nothing at all to sit on. At least he remembered the tent and the food, even if he had forgotten how to cook. Who can't cook HOTDOGS? He chided himself kicking a stick into the fire. He'd just been so- preoccupied. The new clients at the office were not being very cooperative, their inane demands were forcing everyone into overtime, his vacation was half what it should have been, the other half being posthumously denied when his portion of the Grieger account was sent back with notes. Amy had asked if the notes had gold stars on them. She teaches preschool. There were no gold stars. She leaned in and kissed his cheek. "Let's put on some music, OK?" He nodded and stood up. Wait, I already put on some music. Feet kicking up chunks of sand he dashed towards the car. "Dead, it's dead, oh god." He slammed his fist into the side of the car. Amy slid up beside him and slipped her hand into his. "Let's go for a walk." They walked for the better part of an hour, until his red dead Honda was lost behind the bends of the shore and the glean of the sun setting over the ocean. They walked until the waters were deep purple splashed with fire. They walked until the innumerable stars watched over them and the fat red moon rose like an apple bobbing in the ocean. The ocean rhythmically beat against the shore. The wind rustled tall grass edging the coast where dirt met sand and bled into the sea. There were no sounds except for the ocean and their feet pressing into the sand. There were no birds, no crickets, no owls, no cars passing on the highway just north, no music no children running back and forth screaming and throwing sand and water and diving into the surf. It was almost like it wasn't even a beach, or maybe it was more a beach than he'd ever been to. It was the beach that existed before people came to picnic and leave their hot dog wrappers and charcoal bags laying next to their rusted hung of a car. It was the beach before radios droned out the sound of the ocean churning and the Earth breathing. It was primordial, peaceful, silent. The stopped where an outcrop of jagged black rocks cut a path into the ocean and they followed it out, careful not to cut themselves on the sharp stones. They laid down on the damp flat boulder and watched the stars wheel bright white through the cloudless sky. It could have been minutes, it could have been hours. Jack had no way of ever knowing, he'd forgotten his charger at home and his phone had been dead since afternoon. He turned and faced her. her skin was damp from ocean mist and glistened with moonlight. He kissed her. When he pulled away he whispered. "I love you." And in that instant he knew he meant it though he'd never said it before, not to her at least. He watched her as the waves lapped at the stone around them, and for a moment he wasn't sure if he was more terrified that she hadn't heard him and he'd have to say it again, or that she had heard him and didn't know what to make of it. She smiled and kissed him back. "I love you too." She stood up and pulled him to his feet. "Let's go swimming. You didn't forget to bring the ocean at least." "No, but Amy, I forgot our swim-" She laughed and jumped into the ocean, white dress fluttering in the night sea breeze, she pulled him in behind her.
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