I held her hand and led her toward the beach, our way along the path through the rushes lit only by the moon, our soft canvas shoes sinking into the deep sand. When we emerged from the tall grass, I stopped to get my bearings. Just as we started to move up the shore, away from the hotel where I had parked our car, two shadows ran past us in the dark, laughing. She grabbed my arm and whispered, “What’s that?”
“Just two lovers,” I answered, getting a better grip on the blanket beginning to slip from my hand.
“They sound drunk to me. Listen to the way they’re laughing.”
“What if they are? They’re having fun.”
After a few seconds, we started walking again, our footing better now. About two hundred yards up the beach, I pulled her toward two large sand dunes, away from the crashing waves. We plodded through the deepening sand and the rushes. I picked a spot equally removed from the shore and the highway we had traveled in silent anticipation a few minutes earlier. I spread the blanket in the sand. “Is this good?” I asked.
She looked out toward the ocean, then answered, “I don’t want to have sex here.”
I lay on my back on the blanket and stared up into the sky. She lay down beside me and took my hand. As our eyes adjusted, we could see more and more stars and an occasional seagull passing quietly overhead. When I saw a shooting star, I asked her, “Did you see that?”
“That shooting star?”
A few more minutes later, she saw one. She laughed in delight. It was her first ever, she said.
“Are you ready to go?” I asked.
“I want to lie here with you a few more minutes.” She ran her fingers across my chest and whispered in my ear, “Are you mad at me?”
“Not mad.” I reached up and squeezed her hand. “When we first planned this vacation, you said you wanted to make love on the beach.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t now.”
I sat up, leaned over, and kissed her, then lay back down. After a few more minutes and another shooting star, she announced, “I’m ready to go now.”
We stood up. I picked up the blanket and shook the sand from it, then carefully folded it. I led her back through the dunes and rushes to the beach, where we walked, more quickly now, toward the distant hotel. When we reached the path back to the car, I slowed in the deep sand while she moved ahead of me, sure-footed and sober, into the shadows that lay ahead of us.