I could swear Bri and Joey were looking at us from the far side of the shore. Their flirty splashes with each other became a wrestle on the sand before they were finished off by the waves that crashed the shore. But I was more concerned about cheering Lyn up than whatever Bri was thinking about us. I thought I was doing a pretty good job until Lyn leaned on my shoulder, burying her face on my sleeve. She was silent. But I could feel my sleeve getting wet. I could hear nothing but the shortness of her breath. I let her be for quite a while before I wrapped my arms around her. I would pat her shoulder then her head.
“What would I do without you?” she asked. My thoughts, exactly.
“I only want to have fun with her, Bud.” She managed to ask me that even with her sharp breaths every word after another. Her voice changed from a strong chest voice to a nasally tone. “Well, the day’s not over yet so why don’t you have fun?” I told Lyn while massaging the nape of her neck, “This is your vacation too.”
A bulb lit her mind because she actually agreed with me. “You know what…” Lyn said as she grabbed one of the bottles of Soju Joey was carrying. Lyn shook the bottle. She always told me it was to wake up the alcoholic demon inside the bottle, “You’re right.”
But I was quite hesitant with the idea of Lyn becoming even remotely tipsy around her daughter here. On one hand, although alcohol really helped her lighten up and transformed her to a total goofball, it might worsen Bri’s hostility toward her. On the other hand, if what had begun went on further, she might break down in front of her Bri. I know for sure Lyn would not want to lower her walls down, especially in such a public place.
“What do you think?” Lyn asked as her swollen eyes twinkled. Even when she was crying, she was still beautiful.
“That is a really bad idea, Lyn,” I said to her and the light in her eyes was ready to flow out of her lids. “That’s a really bad idea if you don’t have ice. Let me see if I can buy some.”
It took me a while to finally manage to buy ice as I had to go outside of the resort itself. El Mañana had some but would not sell it to me for some reason. I was headed back to the kubo when I decided to have a little chat with Bri and Joey who were sunbathing. From the seaweed crown on their hair, I could tell they swam around the beach, perhaps from the farther left below El Mañana foot bridge where they could have space of their own. Bri had sunglasses on while Joey was burying her in the sand. I did not know how to interrupt best than to clear my throat loud enough.
“I know I’m not in the position to talk–”
Bri was always quick to interrupt.
“Right. You are in no position to talk,” She managed to articulate every single word in such a way that I was momentarily stunned. Bri was ready to drag Joey back to the foot bridge when I mustered up the courage to continue on.
“I may not know what your real issue is with your mother,” I said. Bri stopped, not looking at me. “But could you please cut her some slack? She’s trying, she arranged this, everything… just to be with you.”
While I was explaining, I realized I use my hands too much when I feel so strongly about what I was talking about. While I was talking, I saw Joey tell her, “Give it a listen.”
My voice broke a bit, which was pretty embarrassing, but this is for Lyn. I cleared my throat, took a breath before continuing, “So why don’t you give her a chance?”
I did not waste a second and started walking away before I felt a tear escape my eye.
“What makes you think my mom was my issue?” she asked behind my back. “If I did not make it clear enough, my problem is you.”
I froze where I stood as I heard Bri invite Joey back under the bridge. How could Bri have such a handsome problem?
When I was no longer paralyzed by Bri’s sass, I was finally ready to go back to the kubo when I heard Bri scream. I initially stepped towards the direction of the couple but if I did not go back to the kubo, all the ice I would give Lyn was water. So I rushed back.
At the kubo, Lyn had already taken a nap. It was no surprise that Joey’s screaming did not wake her because she had always been a heavy sleeper. I placed the ice on the ice bucket and glanced at the bridge. As my eyes scanned, I noticed Bri was helping Joey walk to the comfort room.
I knocked on the only locked cubicle door when I heard Bri. “What?”
“I heard you scream, are you okay?” I asked.
“How could anyone screaming be okay?” She clapped back. “How stupid could you be?”
I knew she was the daughter of the woman I want to spend my sunsets with but if she did not stop talking down on me, I would honestly find it hard to grow my balls back… I want her to like me for her mom so much, I would still cave.
“She stepped on something sharp,” Joey said.
I had a feeling of what it might have been. “Can I see?”
“If you don’t say something stupid,” Bri said. When Joey helped her extend her leg out of the cubicle I immediately recognized the black spike.
“We have to pee on it,” I said.
“That’s it, you’re out.” Bri brushed me away. She must have thought I was fooling around. “Piss off.”
“Gladly,” I replied. “Any way I could help.”
I unzipped my shorts, comfortable that the resort was private and Bri and Joey were inside the cubicle. I aimed my piss gun toward Bri’s foot when she tried pushing the spike out with her hand. I swerved it away from the initial target but not before my golden shower hit her hand.
“Is that–” Bri took a second to realize– “Ahh!! Damak!”
I apologized in a hundred languages and Bri was still inconsolable. I could hear Joey muffling her chuckles but Bri was not having it. She opened the door after I hurriedly put my shorts on. Her eyes had a laser beam.
“What did you just do?” she asked.
I answered, “I cured it.”
“Cured it?” Bri was livid. “When I told you to piss off, I- you, aaah!”
She was mad she could barely put out a sentence so I explained that she had stepped on a tuyom and peeing on it was what would get rid of the sting. I had to do it while rinsing her hand with water. She refused to let me touch her so I had to help from a distance. Joey was still laughing inside the cubicle.
“What did mama ever see in you?” Bri slammed the door.
I felt a lump in my throat. Out of all Bri had said to me, those words stung. “What can’t you see in me?” I mumbled.
Bri replied, “What was that?” And all of a sudden, I could feel the lump slid down my tongue.
“What is your deal? What’s with all your taray? You, of all people, should be happy! Your mother loves you. You have a girlfriend that loves you. Your mother loves that someone loves you. You’re so angry for someone who has a girlfriend. I don’t even have a girlfriend! I’m trying to. So why can’t we just skip pause with this teenage angst and be adults so I could finally be laid.”
As embarrassing as my thoughts spiraled out, it silenced Bri. I had not noticed Joey was already out of the cubicle. When she was out, Bri did so too. Bri took a step, wanting to walk away from me. I was embarrassed and upset that I could not look at her. When she took another step, I could not bear it anymore and did the impossible. I lend her my jesus flops. She was barefooted.
To be continued…
Princess “Preng” Arguelles is a twenty-something Creative Writing major at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She attempts to capture reality-based ordeals in her fiction.