iz and Lorenzo met on the beach. A reggae band was playing and the night air was thick. So thick in fact, that after a day in the sun, Liz had left her underpants at home. Her sunburn was just settling in, and even the breeze felt heavy against her skin. She figured that her long green sundress was all the cover she needed.
After they shared a cigarette near the water’s edge, Lorenzo discovered her secret, and her sun-tinged cheeks turned redder still. Laughing, she explained her reasoning, and insisted that that she did not normally go panty-less. Lorenzo’s dragged his hand up the side of her leg, curled his fingers around her hip.
But you did tonight.
They squirmed along the shore and the sea lapped at their feet as they tried desperately to sync the movement of their bodies. But the sand kept giving way, and their beach towel was soon soaked through. Their friends huddled and wondered a few feet away.
He asked her how she was getting home, and without thinking she said that a friend would drive her. She regretted it instantly. And just when the few seconds of silence between them was growing unbearable, she offered, “Want to go to the beach tomorrow?”
Their glances met and skittered off in other directions, and they exchanged numbers while looking at their sandals. Three hours later, he rang her doorbell…
They woke up together and squinted at the sun and each other’s faces in daylight. They spent the afternoon in the sand as planned, and exchanged pieces of information in fast forward. Seeing as they’d skipped the first date and the tiptoeing toward intimacy that comes with it, they delivered slices of their lives in blunt chunks. It was more of a data exchange. They filed away bits and pieces for future use.
A few weeks later she phoned him about a computer problem. She’d tossed her hard drive into the trash bin and she remembered that he was an I.T. specialist. He shut down the computer and then turned it back on. They moved the mattress to the floor to make less noise (it was a weeknight), and in the dim glow of her laptop, they rolled from the mattress to the floor, the tiles cold against their naked backs.
He called her a few months later for help. She taught English on the side, and he wanted to be sure his query letter was idiomatically correct. He was headed to London for another festival (he deejayed in his spare time) and thought he might sell a record. Her corrections took 20 minutes at her desk in the office. His thank-you took all night on the couch.
They lost touch with one another for a year or so (one or both was attached and awkwardly mentioned it in an email), and then, one night she realized she’d eaten dinner in the neighborhood where he grew up, she texted him to tell him about the place.
His parents were out of town and he was house sitting. They planned to cook dinner the next night, and take advantage of the large kitchen. While a clam sauté sputtered over a low flame, they caught up over glasses of Prosecco until their collarbones gleamed with sweat. He turned the music up loud, and took her by the hand to show her the bed he’d slept in as a child. It was pushed into a corner and when they made love their elbows and knees knocked against into the wall.
Another few months and she interviewed him for an article on local musicians. He was flattered and when he came to collect copies of the magazine, she met him in the doorway of her building. Both of them were attached at the moment, and it was safer. They lingered over his scooter and hugged goodbye.
When Italy won the World Cup, she called him because she knew he would be among the millions celebrating at Circus Maximus, and she longed for his enthusiasm. Her own boyfriend had gone home tired. The energy of the crowd coursed through them, and when the hordes dispersed, they collapsed on the ground and kissed. Their front teeth banged together and the gap in time felt wider. She wanted to remember the shape of his body, but she chose fidelity and her empty bed. They broke up five months later.
When Liz got a job in London she emailed Lorenzo to tell him she was leaving and to ask him about his favorite places.
“Forever?” he asked.
She told him yes, and did he want her BBQ or wine rack?
He did, and they met up that night. They sat on her balcony with their bare feet on the ledge and the wind on their soles and laughed over the last five years. And again she blushed in the dark.