“Sarah said I’d find you here” I said as I sat down gently next to Bethany on the jetty by the boat house. Beth was sitting on the edge, her high heels dumped on the planks beside her, her legs swinging out over the water.
Beth kept looking ahead “Yeah she said you wanted to talk?”
Eh, wait a sec. Oh I see, that’s how it was. Sarah had set us up. I said grinning “that sister of yours, she is something isn’t she? She told me you wanted to talk to me too”.
Beth took a sharp intake of breath. “I’m sorry” she said quietly, almost too quiet to hear, and then she carried on “you don’t have to be here; you can go back to the party if you like”.
Truth was, it was nicer being with Beth. She was the only sensible girl. She was the only girl I could actually laugh and joke and talk to. I liked talking to Beth.
“No, here is nice.” I muttered. Beth sighed and I could feel the tension dissipating. We looked out over the lake. It was a warm night, not as much moonlight as would be nice, but still a lovely calm summer night.
“I can understand this is always off-limits at parties, what with your parents being scared someone will drown and all, but it really is the best kept secret Beth”
Beth laughed lightly and looked coyly sideways at me “actually, my parents have never thought about that. I made up that rule. This place is off limits because its my favourite place, where I come when the parties get too much”.
“What gets too much, Beth?”
“You know, like when I see someone doing something that could break something, and I don’t dare intervene, I just want to run and hide and let Sarah take all the blame, kind of thing” Beth said quietly. That couldn’t be all of it. We sat in silence.
“I like your dress, Beth. Didn’t I say that before? I always like it when you dress up”
Beth lightened up “Really? You’ve never ever said! I had no idea you ever noticed me” and she grinned. The comfortable kind of silence floated back.
“So how has the party been for you? Get any dates yet?” Beth inquired quietly, thoughtfully.
“Eh not tonight. My heart just isn’t into all that shit any more Beth, you know what I mean? I know you call me a man-slut but your morals are starting to take a toll on my love life. Your disapproval is rubbing off on me. And besides, the bimbos aren’t pushing themselves upon me any more. Sarah has been cock blocking me.” Another short silence. “What about you Beth?”
Beth shrank a little. “You know I don’t date.”
“Hah, no, not like your sister! I think Sarah has had two ‘dates’ tonight already!”. Eh, back up, what was I saying? That isn’t what Beth wanted to hear. They couldn’t be more different, those two, although they were actually really loyal sisters too. I knew I’d said too much and the mood was a slight bit less comfortable. I longed for the comfort back. That comfort was why I loved long talks with Beth. I began to feel slightly more sober.
“Would you like to date, Beth?”. Wait a sec, that could be misunderstood. “I mean, proper dates? Going out dates, kind of thing? Not just find-a-room kind of shit?” I hope that clarified it, got me back on safer ground.
“Don’t be preposterous, who’d want to date me?” Beth laughed lightly.
“Hey don’t be so self-depreciating Beth! Maybe its my turn to give you relationship advice for a change? You’re a lovely person and you just have to find Mr Right”. I could warm to this subject.
“What if I’ve found Mr Right, he’s just out of my league?” Beth asked seriously, urgently.
“Wow, have you? Brilliant! Does he know?” I was suddenly very interested. It wasn’t like us to talk about Beth; we always talked about me, about my problems. The problems I always made for myself. This was the first time Beth herself had ever been the subject of our conversations.
“He is tone deaf and doesn’t take heavy hints” Beth said grinning really widely.
“Wait a sec, do I know him?” I asked incredulously.
“Eh, yeah, I think you do” Beth giggled back.
Then Beth leaned back and took a deep breath.
“So he hasn’t noticed you? You have to make him notice you. I know you’re not like a slut, you’re not going to throw yourself at him, but you can still be a bit flirty. Sarah could give you lessons. In light flirting, I mean, nothing heavy. She could set you up a date even.”
Beth didn’t say much. But it was a comfortable silence again. She put her hand gently on my hand and gave me a squeeze, like she was telling me to go on.
“So he hasn’t even notice you?” I asked, glumly, trying to get my slightly drunk brain to focus on her problem, search for solutions.
Beth tensed. She looked almost irritated. She said cuttingly “he doesn’t notice me, he just drags a different slut upstairs each party, fucks them. Sometimes two in one night. It fucking hurts. I hate to think about it. Hell, sometimes my own room! I feel so abused. I just come down to the boathouse to cry.” She was angry now. She was on the verge of tears too.
“Wow, that’s shitty. He’s a real shit. And he doesn’t even know he’s hurting you?”
Beth drew back, looking daggers at me “You really can be an insensitive jerk at times, you know that?”
I was hurt, defensive. The alcohol was inhibiting me thinking straight, inhibiting me saying the right thing. I was stung. “Jesssh, just try to help.” I said coldly. I paused, scared at the anger in my voice. I calmed slightly. “You could just tell him, you know”. I was exasperated and wanted the conversation to move on.
Beth was very quiet, meek.
“Its you, dummy” she whispered.
Oh my god. Oh my god. My heartbeat rocketed.
Ok this actually made sense. Oh my god what had I been doing to her? I really was a shit.
Beth must have seen the devastated, lost look on my face. She gave my hand a gentle comforting squeeze “you can go back to the party.”. Then “Oh god, I told Sarah this would all go wrong. I’ve been so stupid” she was crying now.
I put my arm around her. She tried to pull away but I held her tight and pulled her into my shoulder. I didn’t know what to say. “I ... I’m sorry Beth. I just had no idea you felt this way.” I stuttered.
“You go back to the party, I’ll be alright” she tried to sound brave. She tried to sit up straight, push herself away from me, but I held on tight.
I didn’t know what to say. I was overwhelmed with guilt for the pain I was giving Beth, my lovely Beth, and overwhelmed with a strong realisation that Beth mattered more to me than anything else in the world. I’d never realised that Beth was the most important person in my life.
I picked up her chin gently and, tilting her head, kissed her.
Her lips were closed. I could feel her body melting into mine, but she was pushing me away. We sat upright, looking at each other. “We’re still friends?” she asked timidly, like she had to check?
“Now who’s not getting the hint?” I laughed. And I reached over and we melted together into each other and kissed so passionately we ended up laying beside each other on the jetty, our legs still hanging awkwardly out over the water, eating each others face off.
“Wahay, way to go!” jerked us back to our senses. It was Sarah, completely unfazed that she was interrupting us. “Its almost light, party’s over, everyone’s left. Just thought I better tell the hostess yea know?” she grinned. “Nice to see you two got together finally. You make such a cute couple” she giggled.
“So you two going to do a ‘bud’, then?” Sarah was still there even though we’d started kissing again. Beth broke off and looked up at her sister “what?”. “A ‘bud’” Sarah rolled her eyes “You know, fucking close to water!” and she gave off a big loud laugh that rang out over the lake.
“Can you leave us be, Sarah, can’t you see we we’re busy?” groaned Beth.
Sarah marched off back to the house. Beth giggled “now where were we?”. She looked the happiest girl in the world and my heart had the warmest fuzziest feeling seeing her smile.
Beth sat up and wriggled backwards away from the edge. The she turned to me and said enticingly “come on, help me with this zip” as she held her hair up off her back.
“You don’t have to do this Beth”. I meant it. Beth was perfect, I had never looked at Beth as a conquest, never thought about her sexually, wasn’t about to just use her. I been so shitty to her. I had never ever meant to hurt her, I hadn’t even thought about her, and I wasn’t about to hurt her now.