The two boys sat together on the stones, their hoods pulled up over still damp heads of hair tangled with salt and sand. Adie smoothed the blanket out around him, brushing grains of sand back onto the beach and looking past his friend at the bubbling, angry sea churning at the shore.
“You’re really going to do it, aren’t you?” Evan asked, brushing his hair back into his hood from where it fluttered around his face. “You’re really going to fucking do it.” He tucked his feet under his towel and turned to face his friend, his fingers picking at the end of his sleeves.
“You can come with me,” Adie said softly, his voice just barely audible above the crashing of the waves. Seagulls flew around the cliffs towering above them, searching for anything living left in the rock pools stretching away from the sheltered cove in which they sat. “It’s not too late.”
Evan looked away from him again, drawing his knees up to his chest and squinting at the ocean. The sun was high in the sky, but the cool wind blowing in from the sea was bitterly cold against their skin. He bit his lip, pulling his hood tighter around his face and wrapping his arms around his knees, his hands tucked into the end of his sleeves. “I want to come with you, but I can’t. I’m not like you. I’ve got things here that I have to do, people that I can’t leave behind. You’ve got nothing to lose…”
“I’ve got nothing to live for.” Adie said simply, pulling his own hood tighter around his face and blinking away the sea salt and grains of sand stinging at his eyes. “That’s what you’re saying.”
Evan shook his head. “You’ve got everything to live for,” he replied, nudging Adie’s folded legs with his knee. “You’ve got all your friends, your family, your dog. She’s a great bloody dog.”
Adie chuckled, lying back on the blanket and looking up at the clear blue cloudless sky. His damp shorts clung coldly to his legs, the salty water stinging on his skin. “So I have a great dog, and I have friends and family and you know, people… but I want more. I don’t want that pre-determined destiny that we’re taught to expect, you know? We’ve finished school, so what’s next? A job, moving out, maybe someday getting married and having kids… it’s the same old things that everyone kind of expects. Sure there’s some variation on those things but it’s never, well, different.”
Evan lay down next to him, his hands spread on the sandy blanket at his sides. His hood had fallen back to reveal strands of his toffee-red hair curling over the thousand freckles spreading like constellations across his forehead and cheeks. “You could always dye your hair. It’s different but like, less permanent.”
“Maybe you should try that,” Adie grinned, “I wouldn’t want to live my boring single chance at life as a ginger.”
“You know what, you can fuck off to the future,” Evan laughed back at him, kicking him from across the space between them. “They might find your offensive jokes funny there.”
Adie smiled, a sudden sadness welling up within him. He rolled onto his side, propping himself up with one arm and reaching out to take hold of Evan’s hand with the other. “I’ll miss you.” He said, his voice quiet but full of meaning. “More than you know.”
“Gay,” Evan whispered, the accusation almost drowned out by the crackling of the waves crashing onto the shore and dragging away the pebbles into the big, grey sea.
“Takes one to know one,” Adie replied, dropping down and planting a single quick kiss on Evan’s forehead. Evan chased him as he drew back, grabbing the back of his neck and pulling him back down towards him.
Their lips collided in a kiss as salty and cold as they were, their teeth smashing gently against one another before Adie could rest his elbows on the sand either side of Evan’s head. He looked down at the other boy’s freckles through half-closed eyelids, at the pink curve of his lips and faint dark circles beneath his eyes. He ducked again, the kiss deepening until their tongues found one another, the tassels of Adie’s hoody tickling at Evan’s ears.
“Don’t leave me,” Evan whispered into Adie’s neck, Adie’s breath warming his ear as they lay atop one another, the wind whipping around their bodies and the waves crashing against the shore behind them. “It’s not too late to change your mind.”
Adie lifted himself back onto his elbows and stroked his thumb gently along Evan’s cheekbone. “But it’s my dream. I want to do this, I always have. Ever since we were little kids and they first announced that they were going to offer this chance, the possibility to just… freeze time and wake up again in five-hundred years… I’ve always wanted it. I’ve lived the present. I want to see what the future is like.”
Evan smiled sadly, sitting up and forcing Adie to retreat. “I get it, it’s your dream.” He said, turning away and pulling his hood back up to cover his hair. The blanket wrinkled under him as he clambered awkwardly to his feet, shaking the sand out of his shorts and rubbing the salt from his sun-dried skin. “I can’t stop you.”
“Hey,” Adie said, standing up next to him and taking hold of his shoulder. “We’ve still got a year at least until they’ll take me. If they’ll take me. I’ve applied but you know what it’s like: they’ll have a load of people applying… it’s a once in a lifetime thing. It’s what I want to do but if I don’t get there then that’s just the way it is.”
The waves continued to pound against the shore, now beginning to crawl up the beach to where they were sat. Evan nodded, glancing at the approaching sea and then down at his toes, curling against the blanket under his feet. “We should get back,” he said, scooping up his towel and bag from the bottom corner of the blanket and throwing them over his shoulder. “It’s getting late.”
Adie looked up towards the sky, still clear and blue above the rocky cliffs. He couldn’t say that any time had really passed at all since they’d emerged from swimming in the grey water, the white-foamed waves beating against their chests. His shorts were still damp where he’d been lying down on the blanket, the blue fabric beneath his feet warm and moist with seawater, now evaporating in the afternoon sun. “Sure,” He said, ducking down and tossing his bag over his shoulder. He grabbed one edge of the blanket and lifted it off the ground, letting the wind catch at the sand and watching as it was blown back down the beach. By the time he’d folded it and tucked it beneath his arm, Evan was already sitting in the car.