July 28, 2015 12:02:38 AM





The sun rose and everything fell. The sand started with a four foot stretch of dampness and galloped towards the boardwalk for two-hundred feet, dodging loitering seniors and sporadic dunes. The sun was barely visible; the clouds were in the way. Over a hundred exhausted seniors viewed this lack of a spectacle. A small group, unimpressed, started throwing a frisbee. They had some skill, but it was obvious that they were trying to show off. When one would be about to catch the disc, he would snag it instead of letting it come to his hand.
Alex Franzen couldn’t look at this without a cynical spin. She wasn’t the most optimistic person to begin with. Being middle class, Alex was aware that although it could be worse, it could also be much better. She also hated those “at least you have your health” people.
But that cynicism was a choice; this time it was a reflex. Alex viewed the athletes with the thoughts of last night scoffing in the background.
She looked over to her boyfriend Chas, his dirty blonde hair blending in with the sand in the background. Chas was joking around with his friends. After weeks of dating, Alex quickly picked up that Chas would become more obnoxious in public brouhahas than when they were privately conflicting. This social reaction gave Chas the upper hand from a thirty party perspective. How could the easy-going, charming boyfriend be the bad one when he’s stuck with the impulsive, emotional girl?
Chas said his bro-byes and strutted over to Alex. “Hey, you wanna go back inside?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“Are you sure?”
“Okay, I’ll ask you one more time. If you say you’re fine than I’ll believe it and I won’t ask you again even if you look pissed off.”
“Yes, Chas. I’m fine.”
“Slow down,” Chas said, catching up to her. “What did you think of the sunrise?”
“Disappointing. I thought that it would do more for me.”
Chas smirked, clapped, and rubbed his hands together Miyagi-style. “Oh, yeah. That’s symbolism or something, right?”
“I said I was fine.”
“ I was kidding. I can tell a joke, right?”
“Ooh. Funny, ha ha.”
“Alright. There’s definitely something.”
It was ironic, though, as Chas was one to not look past the surface. At their homecoming football game the most popular seniors won: a football player and a cheerleader. “They’re just the perfect couple,” Chas said. This was with all sincerity, too. He didn’t look past the surface. He didn’t see the sexism in it. He didn’t see it as the masculine man in the spotlight while the subservient girl in the short skirt cheered him on. He only saw it as the idea couple. The High School American Dream.
“Okay, we’re both tired. When we get back to the house, we’ll go to bed. We’re both cranky.”
“Okay?” he asked, more encouragingly than curiously. He proceeded to kiss her on the cheek, pushing the false restorative momentum. “You still have a buzz?”
He’s played this game before. “A little. You?”
“Yeah, I actually think so. I’m mostly just drowsy, I think.”
His drowsiness must’ve lasted all night. Chas and Alex first got to the shore house at two in the morning and he was poised to go straight to bed. Prom was interesting; no one really grinded because there was so much sexual tension. They’d have enough time during the weekend to diffuse it. Once people started getting a second wind, Chas caught it too. He then thought it would be a great idea to stay up late and avoid the awkward early morning hours of being awake while everyone was asleep that he had to endure during eighth grade sleepovers.
Chas’s favorite spot for parties was the pong table; this night was no different. Even if he didn’t play, he loved the sense of casual competition. He was in the middle of watching a blowout when he looked over to see Alex scowling at him. She was one of those girls that looked hotter with an angry scowl than a happy smile. No that she would notice. Scratch that; not that she would acknowledge. Alex suffered from possessing the ironic trait of patronizing women who used their looks to get them places but couldn’t help but uncontrollably blush when he gave her a compliment on her looks.
He was sure that she wasn’t mad at him because of his views on appearance--unless she was reading his mind (which she often did). She must’ve been mad about the way the party was going or the crappy playlist or--wait, she’s coming over now.
“Is this how the whole weekend’s gonna go? Will you just ignore me and wait for me to latch onto you?”
What a great way to start. If she actually preferred an issue--or a fabricated one, in this case--in hopes of solving it, she could be slightly more pragmatic in addressing it. She also could’ve not assumed that he was automatically against her.
“Alex, how do you know I’m doing that?”
“Because you are.”
“I’m just mingling. We don’t need to be attached to the hip all weekend.”
“Nice. Just battle one extremity with another extremity.”
“Just chill. Let me get us some drinks. I’ll be glad to hang out with you now.” The rest of the night was decent, but there was something off about it, like they lived in a parallel universe afterwards. Things just felt off. What was said couldn’t be unsaid. It was hard for Chas and Alex to be unconditionally affectionate towards each other after they knew what they were both capable of. Nonetheless, there was no visible conflict for the rest of the night, but if someone else from the house watched them for any more than thirty seconds the tension could be discernable.

They walked back to the beach house in silence. Chas would often look at Alex as if to say something, then turn back and shake his head.
The house now sported a thin coat of sand recently trekked in by all of the seniors which provided a grainy, almost sharp feel inflicted on their feet. The house wasn’t totally trashed; there were mostly suitcases scattered on the floor and kids scattered on the couches.
“Do you still wanna talk,” Alex said, “or just go to bed?”
“Do you have any questions? Because I’m good if you are.”
“No, let’s just go to bed.” They walked over to the room; the door was closed. Alex stared at the door handle and slowly turned the knob.