Jonah drove slowly into the parking area for the beach. The boisterous conversations taking place among the other occupants of the car slowly faded as each and every one got a glimpse of the sight that lay directly ahead of them.
"Wow," was the best comment anyone could seem to muster.
They piled out of the car; the beauty of the moonlit beach was now more than just a view through the windshield.
"This really is beautiful," Jonah told himself.
Yet, despite the moon shining off the water in one big stripe and the warm breeze that caressed his face, Jonah did not feel any real happiness. Sure, he was pleased to have been given the opportunity to allow his friends to experience this place he had discovered while out driving one night, but he wanted some happiness for HIMSELF for a change. To just be -- content.
As the girls were nearly done laying out a blanket for all to lay upon and enjoy the night sky, Jonah announced brusquely, "I'm going for a walk."
He expected no response from his friends; they knew him well enough to realize that he was sometimes distant. It angered Jonah and pleased him at the same time that they were so respectful of his feelings. Or were they? Did he really want to be left alone? He disregarded the complicated thought and began to walk away. Much to his surprise he heard a male voice, that of Jen's friend Chris, call out from the darkness.
"Hey. Hold up, Jonah."
Chris jogged over to Jonah before he continued speaking.
"Mind if I join you?" Chris asked gingerly.
This was certainly not was Jonah was expecting to hear, and fumbled with a few words in his mind before giving Chris a response.
"Err--sure, if you want," was all he could come up with.
"I just had to get away from those girls for a little while, and this seemed like a golden opportunity," Chris said, chuckling. Jonah could not help but smile. They were pretty damn "bouncy" after all.
"Now, that's much better," Chris said, continuing to grin quite widely, looking directly at Jonah's face.
"What's better?" Jonah snapped, now staring Chris down.
"Jeez man, calm down," Chris retorted, his head turning forward, now looking down at the sand between his toes. "I meant your smile. You seemed kinda, well, ticked off tonight. Just really--"
"--Distant?" Jonah cut in, his voice softening. He had responded almost subconsciously--it was the first time anyone seemed to care about his feelings, after all.
"Yeah, that's the word I was looking for." Chris stated as the two continued their stroll down the moonlit beach, their legs moving subconsciously, both seemingly deep in thought. Jonah feared he had offended Chris, but this was apparently not the case, as the conversation seemed to simply pick up where it had been left off.
"I feel like that too sometimes," Chris continued, dominating the conversation. "It's almost as if something is missing from my life sometimes, but instead of doing something about it, I just think I want to be by myself, then that seems to make things even worse."
Jonah looked over at his friend, who was still looking down at the sand as he walked...
Stay tuned for further installments... I really like getting e-mail, too, so feel free to send any comments or whatever you want at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Nick, 19, is a college sophomore in Worcester, Mass.