The blue flicker of lightning on the horizon lit the night, the air thick and humid, unrelieved by the offshore thunderstorm. Trevor, in his accustomed place at the end of the breakwater, sat watching. It was his favorite place, one where he could be alone with both his thoughts and the moody sea, each of which so often mirrored the other.
A muted rumble of distant thunder rolled across the calm, windless waters of the Indian River Lagoon, a fitting accompaniment for Trevor's dark mood. He lolled against the harbor light's post, feeling the slightly cool touch of its painted metal against his bare back. Trevor had been coming here, to the spot he called his thinking place, more often in recent weeks, as he so often did in May. In two weeks’ time, it would be the anniversary, as his father called it, not wishing to give the date further name. This year, as he had the two years before, Trevor planned to mark the anniversary of his mother’s loss by sailing alone to the stretch of sea that he considered her grave. It was in treacherous waters and the Atlantic could be fickle in late May, with sudden squalls and thunderstorms. For Trevor, the risks gave deeper meaning to the act of his yearly pilgrimage.
Staring out at the dark horizon, temporarily bereft of the lightning's glare, Trevor thought of all that he and his mother had missed. He hid his feelings well, but those that knew him best had long noticed the sadness that haunted his eyes whenever he saw a mother with her child.
Listening to the soft lap of the gentle waves, Trevor let his mind wander, remembering a woman who had been gone for over half of his life.
The solitude of his lonely post gave him solace, leaving Trevor singularly unprepared for the harsh, loud voice accompanied by a glaring light from behind. “Hey, handsome! There you are. Why the hell you come out here, with all these dirty rocks, to sit and stare at the smelly ocean is beyond me.”
Regretting, not for the first time, that he'd chosen to share the location of his thinking place with his closest friend, he glanced over his shoulder, blinking against the harsh glare of Lisa’s flashlight.
Uninvited, she plopped down on the rock next to his, and Trevor bit back a grumble as he said, “Hi, Lisa. What brings you out here tonight?”
Lisa clicked off the light and sat looking at the dark sea for a few moments, before replying, “Because I figured you’d be here, moping and feeling miserable, and surprise, surprise, here you are, mister gloomy, all alone in the dark. Trev, you do this to yourself every year and have for as long as I’ve known you.”
Trevor and Lisa had met in fourth grade and had soon discovered that they had three things in common; they were only children, birthday twins, and hated each other on sight. The hate had grown into a rivalry, and then, with time, to understanding, respect, and eventually friendship.
Seeking to avoid the conversation that he knew was coming, Trevor tried to sidestep by asking, “So, where have you decided that we're going for our seventeenth birthday?”
Lisa snorted. “It’s weeks away, and that was a clumsy try at changing the subject, Trev. I don't like seeing you like this. You've got so much to be happy about, yet here you are. Trev, it’s been nearly ten years since she died–”
“Nine years,” Trevor interrupted.
Ignoring the correction, Lisa pressed on. “So why, every year, do you put yourself through this downer phase of yours? Look, I know what it’s like to lose a parent. I lost my Mom when I was eleven. God... if I had any sense, I’d avoid you like the plague for the entire month of May.”
They’d had this conversation before, so often that Trevor could recite it by heart. He was irritated by Lisa's intrusion but she was his best friend, a position that gave her certain prerogatives, including trespass where no others would be tolerated. The flip side of that particular coin was that Trevor could say things that, coming from others, were certain to provoke Lisa’s unbridled fury. Nodding solemnly, Trevor said, “Yeah, but your mother didn't die. She just skedaddled.”
Trevor's irreverent comment elicited another snort and a punch in the shoulder from Lisa. “There is no hell. There is only France,” Lisa said in a derisive tone. “Yeah, she’s not dead but she left, Trev. She doesn't even send a card for my birthday anymore. When I visited her on the Riviera last year, she made me feel like a third wheel. She dotes on her new family and made it pretty clear that my visit was an intrusion. They've got two spare bedrooms but I had to stay at a bed and breakfast down the road.”
Trevor nodded. He knew her pain; he'd been there for her through it all. Their friendship had grown in large part due to Lisa's heartbreak when her mother had suddenly departed for France. “At least you got to spend time on the French Riviera, checking out the hot guys,” Trevor said with a chuckle.
After giving Trevor a harder slug in the arm, Lisa said, “Yeah, you do have a point there, Trev. I could use one or two of ’em right about now.”
Lisa’s comment hit Trevor hard. “I don’t like the sound of that. Did something happen between you and Joel?” he asked, hoping he was wrong.
“Yeah... I... Things were going pretty well, but there's a problem: Joel. He’s just... not fun to hang with lately. I can't really describe it; it’s just... awkward between us, since a... misunderstanding a couple of weeks ago. We talk even less than we used to. I think I'm going to have to dump him.”
Joel was one of Trevor’s closest friends, and Trevor knew that Lisa could be brutal when she felt like it. “That sucks... sorry. Try and work it out, but... if you do dump him, just... be nice about it, okay? Please? He’s a good guy, even if he’s not the one for you.”
“Spoilsport,” Lisa said, and then added in a defeated tone, “I guess I’ll be nice. You're no fun, you know that, right?”
“You sure tell me that often enough,” Trevor said, with his first laugh of the day. He looked at Lisa, seeing her silhouette in the dark. Lisa was attractive but she had a cold and distant side that few could penetrate. Trevor was one of those few. He knew that her forceful personality was an act: a carefully constructed shell. Trevor reached out and brushed a tear that he could not see from Lisa’s cheek. “Don’t let it get to you, Lisa.”
“You know me too well. It’s... damn it, Joel just doesn’t seem interested in me anymore. He’s nice and all, hot and a real sweetheart, but... I think I’ve messed it up and it hurts, Trev.”
Trevor put his arm across Lisa’s shoulders, giving her a reassuring hug. “I know you don’t like talking about it, but I know you; you close up and keep people out. Maybe you’ve been keeping Joel out too?”
Lisa sighed. “Maybe. Damn it Trev, why did you have to be gay? Nobody knows me like you do.”
Trevor gave Lisa another hug. “Just give him a chance before you push him away, okay?”
Lisa looked at Trevor and snorted. “You give great advice, which is weird considering the fact that your own nonexistent love life is a disaster of epic proportions. When was the last time you went out on a date, Trev?”
‘Damn, why did she have to bring that up again?’Trevor thought, and then replied, “Just a couple of months ago... I went out with Braden.”
Lisa grunted derisively. “Him... He’s a year younger than you are and he’s kinda strange. You said so yourself, when you told me you weren’t going out with him again. Besides, that date entailed what? You went to McDonald’s for burgers and then jogging along the beach, right? Did you guys touch at all, even a handshake?”
Trevor slowly shook his head. “No, but it was a date.”
“When I say ‘date’, I mean more than that. A kiss at least, getting laid even better. Have you been with anyone at all since you and Pete broke up? It’s been six months Trev,” Lisa said, her voice lowering a little.
Trevor shrugged. “Pete and I broke up by mutual agreement; it’s not like I need to get over him or anything. It’s just too complicated for me right now so I really don’t want a boyfriend to go sneaking around with.”
“Trev, complicated should be your middle name,” Lisa said, and then they both fell silent, watching as nature’s own light show flickered on the horizon, and listening to the distant, muted rumbles of thunder.