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The waves rocked back and forth over my bare feet. I dug my toes into the sand and let the water touch my ankles. The salty breeze rustled through my hair, causing chills to crawl up my spine.
The water was very cold against my skin; I wondered if I should have chosen a different place for this shoot. Summer was nearly over and the air was growing slowly colder. Today, it was just the temperature where it was too chilly to swim.
I sighed and pressed the camera once more to my face, squeezing one eye shut and snapping a picture. The lens clicked. I pulled away and looked at the screen, my heart melting. The photo was a perfect capture of Elle's hair flying elegantly in front of her face, just barely hiding the smile that spread from cheek to cheek. I glanced back up and watched her twirl, her dress spinning around her. Her laughter rang out like a bell against the monotonous noise of the ocean. If she wanted to, she could easily be a model.
Elle tucked a lock of auburn hair behind her ear and watched the foam collect around her feet. I smiled to myself. Then, she glanced up at me. Her cheeks were rosy, eyes wide and filled with wonder. I flashed a lopsided grin, trying to focus on breathing.
"How was that one?" she asked exhilaratedly.
"It was amazing," I cleared my throat. "I mean great. It was great."
"Can I see?"
I nodded and she flounced over to me. I pulled the picture up and she leaned in closer. My eyes fluttered shut as I breathed in her flowery scent.
"Aw, Oliver!" Elle squealed. "This looks so good. You're so talented."
I laughed softly. "Thank you."
"Hey, lovebirds!" a voice called from behind me.
I turned around. My best friend Quincy sat leaning back on the towel, a smirk plastered on her face. She and Justin were giggling to each other.
"We're not lovebirds," my cheeks reddened.
She rolled her eyes.
"Whatever. It's getting cold. Want to head back?"
Elle and I looked at each other.
"Sure," she responded after a moment, shrugging and turning to me. "Oliver, what about you?"
"Okay," I said.
They stood and rolled up the towel as Elle and I walked towards them. She was practically dancing alongside me, humming as we went. Her personality was basically a reflection of pure happiness all the time.
We all traversed to the car, dumping our bags and towels into the trunk. Quincy and Justin slid in the backseat and Elle sat in the passenger's. I zipped my camera back into its case and closed the trunk.
"Ready, guys?" I asked, climbing behind the wheel.
"This was so fun! I want to do another photoshoot soon," Elle gushed.
I started the car and smiled at her. "Yeah."
"I just enjoyed the beach. That ice cream was bomb," Justin added.
Quincy laughed. The ignition roared softly to life and I backed out of our parking spot.
"Elle, you're in charge of music."
She nodded and reached out to turn the dials on my radio. She flipped through the stations until she found one that came through clearly.
"I love this song," Quincy said.
Elle glanced behind her shoulder.
The love of my life laughed and rolled down her window. She stuck her arm out and sang softly along to the words. I stared over at her, my eyes drinking in her porcelain skin and freckles. Her other arm was resting in between us, fingers tapping to the beat. I nearly reached out and touched her hand. It took all my might to resist the urge. I just wanted to feel my fingers graze the surface of her skin once more; it had been so long since I had held her.
The tips of my fingers turned white as I gripped the steering wheel tighter, trying to tune out the song.
It was "Yellow," by Coldplay.
I attempted to focus on the road, but began to feel sick to my stomach.
This was our song.
There was a time, months ago, when I'd lay with Elle in the bed of her dad's truck and watch the constellations. She'd sing this song to me and trace the lines on the palm of my hand with her pale fingers. I could never get the sound of her melodic voice and the feeling of her skin on mine out of my mind.
I looked over at Elle desperately. Her eyes were closed, a soft smile placed on her lips. She was perfectly content, and I wondered if she even remembered what this song was.
I tried to shake myself of the feeling in the pit of my stomach. After all, it had been months since she broke up with me. I should be over it. But I still hadn't healed.
I tore my eyes away from her and directed them back to the road, trying to look indifferent. She seemed fine. I'd had a lot of practice with pretending I didn't care, just for the sake of keeping her as a friend. I wasn't going to let our old relationship ruin the perfect friendship we had. I refused to lose her.
I didn't realize my eyes had fallen on her again. The sky was slowly growing into different warm hues that reflected gently off her skin. She looked angelic. I shook my head. What was wrong with me?
I trained my eyes back in front of me and willed myself not to look over at her again.
The song finally ended and I let out a breath I didn't even know I was holding.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
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