By the end of our first day on the beach, Aalia already found her dream man. A short, muscle-y kid who was a lifeguard. The only notable thing about him was that he had curly blonde hair and those clear-framed glasses that everyone thinks are so cool. I made sure to watch them like hawks as they sat by the edge of the cliff, hands entwined, watching the sun set into orangey bliss.
“You know how unsettling it is, the way you’re looking at them.” Aria comes up next to me, hands folded behind his back. “They’re children. Let them relax.” He rocked back and forth on his heels for a second.
“I want to make sure they aren’t doing anything..illegal.” I spat. My gaze flicked down to the Jack Daniels’ I was nursing in a crystal glass. Everything had already been set up for our stay, courtesy of my dad, most likely.
“I remember the first time we came here together.” Aria shrugged and rolled his shoulders back. “We sat in that exact spot and drank.”
It was true. I remembered that Aalia was barely a month old, and I had left her in the care of my mother, the gods bless her soul. And we had managed to slip away together.
I remembered the drunken giggles and hickies he left on my neck. I remembered the sweet taste of the limoncello that graced both our lips.
It was the best night of my life. But I couldn’t let him know that.
The front door swung open, and in ran Aalia, skirt of her flowy blue sundress flailing about her ankles. “Dad, can I go to the pier with Sandy?”
“Sandy?” I muttered. My gaze flicked to lifeguard-nerd-boy who grinned and waved. I waved back and turned to my girl, whose eyes were simply sparkling with gold specks.
“Be home by the time the moon comes out.” I told her. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and bolted out the door. Sandy wrapped a sinewy arm around her, and they’re off.
“Young love. So pure, so uncomplicated, hm?” Aria musters a little smile, and turns to me, his brown eyes shining.
I sighed, turned on my heel, stalked to the kitchen, grabbed another glass from the counter, and handed it to him. “Yup. Come on.”
The sky was a purpley-pink when we settled down on the towel my daughter and her beau had sat on. I poured myself another glass of good ol’ Jack’s; Aria declined with a wrinkled nose.
“I don’t understand why you like that..stuff,” He hissed. “It’s so bitter.”
“The burn is nice.” I felt the words slip from my mouth, absolutely slurred. Aria scoffed, grabbed his empty glass and poured himself a hefty serving. He gulped it down in one single swoop, and I could see the daze settling in his eyes. After a few more swigs, he’s hammered.
I take five more.
We’re laughing and kissing and whispering in no time. The moon shines on us like a spotlight, washing us out with its effervescent glow.
“So, you’ve decided to give me another chance,” He laughed and caught my chin in the crook of his thin, delicate, index finger.
“Of course..I love you..” I meant the words. I meant them. But I thought of Aalia. Aalia and how her face could possibly fall if she saw me kissing another man, and how I probably had never loved her mom, or something. My brain was going in twenty directions at once.
We stumbled inside as the night turned navy blue and fell asleep on the couch.
I could forget about Aalia for a little while, right?