“What time do you want to leave?” I asked Julia with my face planted into my fluffy, white hotel pillow.
She responded without looking at me, “What time is it?”
I clicked the top of my phone to reveal the time of 9:58. “Want to leave at 10:30?”
Realizing that neither of us had answered each other’s questions, she looked at the red numbers on the clock beside my head.
“That’s fine” She continued to play on her phone. She was already dressed to go in her transparent white shirt, black shorts, and the ugliest blue and green athletic socks I had ever seen. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop her from wearing them to the beach, instead I worried about the events ahead. That night we planned to sneak out into the warm darkness of unknown territory. The Cape was not very familiar to us, but we had looked at the map at least thirty times. We wanted to return to the pretty beach we had been to that day. Even though it was night, we still wanted to go back to that beach to relive the happy moments in our lives. The beach was 1.8 miles away from the hotel, but we’d have to walk by my parents’ door and the front desk.
After a half hour of napping and getting prepared for the night ahead, we were shaking with excitement and anticipation for the worst. Julia very carefully grabbed the golden knob on our heavy metal door and pushed the door open. We walked out of the room, making sure we had our key and phones. We walked around the fenced in pool and ran across the parking lot as fast as we could, past the front desk and my parent’s door. We crossed the normally busy street, emptied at such an early hour of the night.
Our walk to the beach was a maze of suburban homes and poorly lit streets. “What if we get caught?” I asked Julia, stepping into my well-known role as the goody-two-shoes.
“Then we get caught. We won’t, though.” She tried to persuade herself along with me.
“What if something bad happens?”
“It won’t, we’re fine.”
I waited a few more seconds before asking the same question I had asked seven times already, “You have the key, right?”
“Shut up," She replied, annoyed now by my constant asking.
We reached the intersection of Exeter Road and South Sea Ave when a car came out of nowhere. In fear it was my parents, the hotel people, or the police, we jumped behind the rocks and trees on the side of the road in hopes of not getting caught. We were both shaking uncontrollably for two minutes before we even dared to move again.
The rest of the walk there was really pleasant. We reached a wide road with the water to our left side and beautiful, towering houses to our right. We walked in the middle of the road looking up at the stars identifying constellations and talking.
We reached the circular driveway to the beach and walked onto the porch with the concession stand, normally busy during the day. At this point, it was pitch black out with no street lights, so we couldn’t see more than two feet in front of us. Suddenly, a car pulled into the driveway, its headlights shining on us. We ran as fast as we could down the sandy ramp onto the beach. We didn’t have a plan and figured that we were going to get caught. Julia fell and I twisted my ankle, but in front of us, we saw the beautiful view of the dark sea touching the star-filled sky.
“Come on, this way,” I yelled to Julia as I ran through the mounds of rough sand towards the wooden lifeguard station. We both climbed it as fast as we could and hid beneath the seat. I had scratched my arm on the way up and it stung. The car moved out of the driveway and onto the road. We both fell back in relief and let profanities slip from our mouths.
We exited the lifeguard booth and took pictures, even though none of them really came out. Julia forced me to take fifty pictures of her because she wasn’t happy with any of them. Eventually she tried to take “artsy” pictures of the ocean while I admired the sky from the lifeguard station. I looked at my fears; the ocean, sneaking out, being out in the middle of the night; and I breathed it in. I inhaled all of my fears and held them there, inside of me like they had been for years. Then, I exhaled them. I faced my fears headstrong and nothing bad came out of it. I sat there on the uncomfortable wooden bench for a few more minutes in the silence. Nothing bad would happen.
Then voices came from behind us. There were about fifteen of them, but I couldn’t make out any of the words. “Julia!” I yell-whispered. She turned around and looked like a deer in headlights. “Shh Shh Shh just stay here. Let them pass. They don’t even see us.” They were blocking our exit at this point. They had lanterns of blues, greens, and purples. They were yelling things that were obviously not coherent.
“We have to go!” She yell-whispered at me, still up in the lifeguard stand.
I shook my head ferociously and yell-whispered back, “No! Just let them pass!”
Just then, Julia booked it down the beach, as fast as she could in the sand. I ran after her, feeling like I was running hopelessly. They screamed, “Hey! Who’s that?”
They started running after us, but faster than we could. Julia jumped over a sand dune to our right and I jumped right after. She was gone, already moving away. I stayed there, unable to move. I held my breath as they got closer. I wasn’t really sure why I was afraid of them, maybe because they were drunk, or I couldn’t see them. I imagined them as something so bad that I had to run for my life. In truth, they were probably just some teenagers, like us, who had snuck out too.
“We aren’t going to hurt you," The voices sang, full of lies.
“Just come out."
A sharp female voice asked, “Where did they go?”
I exhaled deep breath unable to hold it any longer as a guy holding a green lantern was five feet away from me. “Right here!” He shouted to the rest.
I sprinted to Julia and yelled, “Get moving, they found us!” I kept running by her, not knowing where to go. There were sand dunes all around us and some of the people were already on top of them.
“This way,” I pulled her arm and ran up the fifteen foot dune.
I wasn’t sure where this led, but I hoped it would lead away from the people. I rolled over the top and slid down the sandy hill. My knee was throbbing, but I kept going, fearing my life depended on it. I turned around, looking for Julia: the only thing I knew in this vast amount of unknown.
I didn’t see her anywhere. I kept running until I reached the building at the front of the beach. I was huffing and puffing, leaning against the yellow building right by the driveway. “Julia!” I yelled between my breaths. A car came speeding around the driveway and stopped almost right in front of me. I fell to the ground and didn’t move a muscle.
“Hit the deck!” Julia screamed from behind me. The car continued to move slowly forward as I jumped up and grabbed Julia.
I half-heartedly asked, “this way?” as I continued running in that direction. We ran faster than we ever had before, still hearing the voices near us. I threw off my sweatshirt and carried it as we ran.
"Come back!” We heard the people screaming at us. They laughed like they enjoyed our fear. That’s what scared me the most. We reached a little docking area where we stopped to tie our shoes and catch our breath.
“I think that was poison ivy” Julia explained as she scratched her open legs.
I looked down at my jeans and chuckled, “I wouldn’t know.”
Looking back on this memory I have realized that fears are funny things. Fears are totally made up. That night, I was able to clear myself of those fears, of the ocean, of getting caught, of the dark, of strangers. Now, I look at everything differently. Knowing how scary that night was and being able to laugh at it now, makes me feel like I can do anything. A part of me wishes we had stayed, just to see how it was. A part of me is glad that we did leave. But there is no part of me that wishes that night didn’t happen, because it will be a memory to last a lifetime.