She lay on her back on the bottom of the boat, eyes closed, hair spilling around her shoulders in glowing curls. I slowed down my rowing and gazed over at her. She said nothing for the longest while, content to simply lay back and relax, and I tried not to disturb her. We glided through the water in companionable silence.
After some time had passed she began to speak softly. “You can hear it…”
“Hear what?” I asked.
“The rhythm of the sea.”
She opened her eyes and looked at me. I smiled.
“The rhythm of the sea, huh? I haven’t any idea what that sounds like.”
“Don’t be a goof. You live right near the ocean.”
She sat up and looked around us – the wide expanse of clear water, the forested shoreline still not too far away. The scenery was beautiful, as always, but I was only looking at her. And she knew it.
She turned to meet my eyes and smiled slowly, softly. “My mother’s not going to approve.”
“Your family’s like that, huh?”
“A lot of people are like that. Are you tired yet? Let me take over.”
I acquiesced, handing over the oars. As we switched places in the boat I stretched for a moment to relax my arms. She started rowing, in her usual quick, steady rhythm, always faster than me. I sat down and watched her.
“What kind of food did you bring?” I asked.
“It’s a surprise,” she replied.
I laughed. “Oh, good. I hope I’m not allergic.”
“Don’t worry, you aren’t. I made it myself. And it’s not like I’m trying to kill you… at least not yet.”
She shrugged in her soft, playful style. “We’ll see after today, won’t we?”
I rubbed the back of my head. “Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re joking.”
“Don’t underestimate me, Haku. I’m always joking.”
“Isn’t that like when people say every day is opposite day?”
She grinned. “Yeah, I guess so.”
I stood up and looked behind us at the distant shoreline. “We’re probably far away enough,” I said. “We can eat now if you want.”
She cut her oars into the water to stop the boat. “I’m not hungry yet, though. Are you?”
“Why don’t we just lay here for a bit?” she suggested.
We got down next to each other and put our heads back. The sky above was a light hazy blue. I stared into it appreciatively, but soon I couldn’t help feeling disappointed.
“It used to be prettier,” I told her. “At night, too.”
“Pollution really knows how to mess with a girls’ day out,” she said. “Hold my hand?”
I took her hand. We both smiled into the sky.
“Do y’wanna adopt?” I asked.
“Gods, yes. Let’s have two!”
I was a little surprised. “Okay, but why two? Why not one or three?”
“Well, three is fine too. But at least two – one for each of my parents who are going to disown me when we get engaged.”
I choked a little. She turned her head to look at me.
“Haku, I can’t tell if you’re laughing or crying…”
“Both,” I said. “Let’s have two, then. And then we’ll see if we want more.”
“You’re lucky your parents aren’t like mine.”
“Well, no one can help that.”
She smiled, then lay back and closed her eyes. “I could just fall asleep here…”
I gazed at her resting face happily. What a day, I thought to myself.
If we at least could be happy with ourselves, we’d be okay, wouldn’t we?