Anthony's Lament (My apologies to Wes and Owen!!)
Ca Caw! Ca Caw!
"Quit it, Dignan," Anthony mumbled drowsily, pulling the bed sheets up to his neck and rolling over onto his side.
Ca Caw! Ca Caw!
"I mean it, Dignan, I'm trying to get some fucking sleep," Anthony repeated, louder.
Ca Caw! Ca Caw!
With this latest outburst, Anthony pushed the sheet away toward his feet and sat up, wide-awake, ready to sock his best friend with a pillow. But Dignan was nowhere in site; Anthony’s rude awakening was caused by the seagulls flying outside his window, not by his blond friend with the funny nose.
His bed was unfamiliar, as were the floral paintings on the walls. In his sleep Anthony had forgotten that he was spending the weekend at Elizabeth's beach house.
"God damn it," he said upon realizing where he was. It wasn't that he disliked Elizabeth, as he did like her, but he knew he didn't love her and never would. Anthony was tired. He was tired of pretending and he was tired of lying. He wished it had actually been Dignan ca-cawing, and not the birds on the warm beach.
"Anthony! You up yet?"
It was Elizabeth's familiar voice, calling from the other room and nudging him out of bed. "Yeah," he said, groggily. Elizabeth didn't bother knocking; she opened the door to wish him a good morning and see what he wanted for breakfast. She was wearing that white dress with the halter straps and little red flowers he had seen her in so many times before.
"I'll just make myself some coffee," he muttered.
"Are you sure you don't want something else? You can't live on coffee, you know."
Anthony didn't answer her. He put on his red sweatshirt and his sneakers and walked to the kitchen to make himself some coffee. But Elizabeth had already poured him a cup with cream and two sugars, just the way he liked it. He sat at the table and took a sip of the warm beverage. The hazelnut aroma poured forth from the mug. The scent reminded him of his home in Dallas and Sundays spent eating breakfast with his family. He missed Grace and wondered what she was doing now. Was she still sleeping? Or was she on the playground with her friends? Was she thinking of him?
His thoughts were interrupted by Elizabeth's prattle.
"What do you feel like doing today, Anthony?"
"I haven't really decided yet, I think I'll just see what I feel like doing when the time comes."
"Well, would you rather lay out or go water skiing? Today I was thinking of taking Daddy's boat out for a spin. What do you think? Anthony, are you listening? What do you think?"
Anthony did not know how to answer that question. He had run out of words. He really didn't want to be there with her, not then, not ever. He could not understand why, as Elizabeth was a beautiful and intelligent young woman. He should like her, he thought, shouldn't he?
All he knew was that there had to be something else out there, beyond the sun and sand; he felt trapped in that house with Elizabeth.
He decided he had to get away, fast. He couldn't answer that question, or any other questions of hers anymore. He set down his mug on the mahogany table and stood up from his chair. He retied the laces on his right sneaker, and ran out the door, onto the beach.
"Anthony! Where are you going?"
Anthony ran past the pastel condos and upright umbrellas that adorned the beach. He ran past children building sandcastles. He thought about Grace. He wished she could be there, playing in the sand. Suddenly he stopped running, and turned around. He realized he had been running for over half an hour. He had run nearly four miles.
He knew he had to go back, but with each step he took toward her house, the emptiness in his stomach and the pounding in his head worsened. He knew he couldn't go back to Elizabeth. He knew he couldn't go home to Grace, as he's an adult. He could go live with Bob or Dignan, but living with them wouldn't bring him any closer to what he desired. It would be the same old thing all over again.
It was now noon and the sun was hot overhead and the sand was burning his exposed toes. Anthony knew he had to make a decision fast. He walked along the ocean, avoiding the jellyfish that occupied the surf.
Unfortunately a young child hadn't been as watchful, and he was crying from the stinging tentacles.
"Hey there. Are you OK, little guy?"
The child continued to cry and clutch his sore legs. The boy was fair-skinned with light hair. He reminded Anthony of Dignan, 20 years earlier.
"You know something," Anthony said. "Maybe you should go find your parents, they'll make you feel better. They'll wash your legs off and give you a great big hug. Maybe they'll even buy you some ice cream, if you stop crying."
The child nodded, but continued to sob. Anthony wiped the tears from the little boy's face, and the child ran off in search of his family.
Anthony continued his walk along the ocean. He watched the wispy clouds move across the sky, blocking the sun, then passing over, allowing the sun's rays to tan the beachgoers again.
All of a sudden he just felt better. Elizabeth was so far from his mind. He wished he could spend the rest of his life just walking, running, drawing. He didn't want responsibilities. He needed to be liberated.
Anthony finally began his stroll away from the ocean, toward the land. He reached the boardwalk and continued to the street. He hailed a taxi and was on his way.