Silhouette (Bucket List: Part Three)

This is the third installment in a series of stories about Mel, David and their friends as they mark off items from their bucket list. To read the first story, She’s Got Flare, click here.

Silhouette (Bucket List: Part Three)
©2012 Tracy L. Constantine

The winding mountain roads of Washington and Oregon lay behind them as the car draws closer and closer to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The sun is high in the sky when David pulls the car into the beach parking lot. He crawls out of the driver’s seat to allow his friends in back to stumble out. They had been driving all day to reach this point and as he watches his friends, he thinks to himself, by the looks of everyone, they could use a good long break. He sits back down in the driver’s seat to remove his dusty hiking boots. Expelling a deep breath, David exclaims, “That feels good!”

“You’re the one who only brought hiking boots,” Mel teases.

“Hey. So, I forgot my tennies. Sue me,” he laughs.

“Yeah. Well, just keep those things away from us. They haven’t had any fresh air for a week,” Mel warns with a laugh and a long, luxurious stretch.

“The boots or my feet?” he returns as he removes his socks. He looks up to see Mel watching him with an expectant look on her face. He raises his eyebrows and his socks. He stands.

Mel takes a step back. “Oh no you don’t.”

He takes another step toward her.

She bolts.

He hesitates for a moment, drops the socks and tears after her. His bare feet hit the sand and an instant later, he finds himself wincing from the sudden heat. Not slowing down, he catches up to her.

“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” They both yell as they run toward the water. Their feet plunge in at the same moment and they simultaneously let out a relieved, “Aahh!”

David looks down to see Mel facing him, holding his hands gently in hers. His lips part in surprise. A small smile makes its way to her lips and then to her eyes. He watches as the ocean breeze plays with her hair and thinks to himself, I wish I were the breeze.

“So do I,” Mel says.

“What?” he asks, holding his breath in shock.

“I said, so do I,” Mel replies.

“I think I missed something,” he murmurs.

“Paul said that he wished he had taken his socks off first,” she explains. The smile on her face shows that she didn’t miss anything.

“Oh,” he says with a quick nod to Paul, who stares blandly back at him.

Balancing herself with one hand resting on his shoulder, she removes a sock with the other hand.

His attention returns. He grabs her around the waist as a wave threatens to knock her over.

“Thanks. That helps,” she chuckles as she removes the other sock. She plants the other foot down and turns slightly away from him to wring her wet socks.

Not wanting to let this moment end, he asks, “How’d you feel the hot sand through socks?”

“I have sensitive skin,” she says in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Uh huh,” he watches the trail of bumps left behind as his thumb moves along the inside of her arm.

“That tickles,” she giggles.

“Do you want me to stop?” he teases. Before he realizes it, Mel has bent down and is splashing water at him. He lifts her off her feet and dunks her into the waist high water, a few steps away.

She clenches herself to him as the cold water hits her. She comes up sputtering, hair and clothes dripping. He sets her on her feet. She tries to push him over, but he holds his ground. She tries again and finds herself in the water again.

“Hey!” Paul interrupts from a dozen feet away. “Why don’t you two quit horsing around and help us get the tent set up?” He stomps away.

David and Mel exchange a guilty look and follow.

“This is perfect,” Mel looks around their campsite as she removes her tee shirt, revealing a bright pink bikini top. She walks over to a pine tree and spreads the shirt across the branches to dry, then wiggles out of her wet cut off shorts.

“Yeah, perfect,” David exhales. He feels something hit him on the shoulder and looks down to see a small bag. He glances at Paul with a dark look and grabs the bag, looking inside he sees the bright yellow tent stakes and walks over to help set up the tent.

Half an hour later, Paul’s mood brightens as he surveys their camp. “Okay! Now, we can play,” he says as he grabs Chrissy around the waist and pulls her toward him.

“I need to change into my suit,” she pushes him gently away, reaches for her bag and follows their friend, Vickie, into the tent.

“Girls,” Paul exclaims with a shake of his head and feels an arm encircle his waist to tickle him. “Cut it out!” he screams.

“Boys!” Mel cries as she continues tickling, then sees David staring at them from across camp with his bag in his hand. She stops tickling Paul and asks, “Aren’t you going to get changed?”

“I would,” he says with a blush, “but I forgot my suit.”

“You forgot your shoes and your suit?” Vickie asks as she and Chrissy step out of the tent.

“Yeah. It’s not my fault. Mel didn’t help me pack,” he pouts.

“If you recall, Paul recently informed us that she is no longer the mother of this group,” Vickie says as she tilts her head and turns to face him.

“I didn’t say I wanted a mother,” he replies with his eyes twinkling. “Just a friend to help a guy out.”

“I’ll help you out next time,” Tom interjects.

“That’s right. Tom is always willing to help,” Mel says.

“You missed the point entirely,” David mumbles as he turns away to rifle mindlessly through his bag.

Mel bites her lip to allow the joy to remain inside. Walking over, she strokes his back and says, “I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay,” he replies. “You’ve been working hard.”

“Did you forget anything else?”

David exhales with frustration, allows the bag to drop to the ground and announces, “Yeah. Sunscreen.”

“I’ve got plenty,” she says as she pours some white liquid into her hand and starts rubbing it on his arms. “Do you have a beach towel?”

He closes his eyes and shakes his head, “I forgot that, too.”

Mel laughs and reaches into her bag. She stretches the towel on the sand and instructs David to sit. She hands him the bottle and he rubs the lotion on his legs, while she works on his back. She finishes before him and starts putting lotion on herself. A moment later, she gasps.

“What?” David asks with alarm as he gets to his knees.

“Your feet!” she exclaims.

“What did you do?” Chrissy asks as she comes to inspect them. “They’re all red.”

“I guess the sand was hotter than I thought,” David says as he sits back down.

“I have some aloe,” Mel suggests as she reaches for her bag. “You guys go ahead, I’ll take care of him,” she directs her friends. She gingerly brushes the sand from the bottom of his feet and puts the cool, clear gel on his red skin.

He pushes air out of his mouth in a long breath and closes his eyes. “That feels good.”

Turning away, the two girls exchange knowing glances as they all leave them alone. Half an hour later, they realize that David and Mel have yet to join them.

“Are they still up there?” Paul asks as he looks toward their campsite.

“Yep,” Chrissy grins.

“What are they doing?” he questions with a furrowed brow.

“I hope my guess is right,” Chrissy replies dreamily.

“What?” he asks.

“You’re clueless,” Vickie pipes up.

“About what?” Paul asks as he stands.

“He definitely is,” Chrissy replies with a shake of her head as she watches him leave to check on their two friends.

Vickie rolls her eyes as Tom and Greg follow.

A few minutes later, they hear David yelling and look up to see the three guys carrying him. Mel follows with the beach towel in hand and a wide grin on her face. She spreads the towel next to her two friends and lays down next to them.

“What were you two doing?” comes the cheerful question.

She looks between her friends and takes a deep breath before responding, “Just talking.”

“Talking?” Vickie raises her eyebrows.

“Yes,” she replies as she watches the guys toss David into the ocean.

Spent, they and the sun begin to settle down for the night. Since David doesn’t have a towel of his own, Mel let’s him lay on hers as she sits cross-legged on one end with his feet propped up on her legs. She watches as her friends each get up to wander alone along the shoreline. She reaches for her cell phone, takes a few photos, then shows David the picture of their friend, Greg.

“That’s a great shot,” David admires the image. “I like how you waited until the perfect moment to catch his silhouette.”

“It’ll look great in black and white,” she muses.

“It’s a beautiful night. I’m not sure we really even needed the tent,” Chrissy says as she lays down.

“Just in case it rained,” Paul replies.

“You and your preparedness,” Chrissy teases.

“Hey, I’m not the only one. Mel is too,” Paul disputes with a wave toward their friend.

“I’m glad you’re prepared,” David says as he enjoys the feel of the cool aloe that Mel rubs on his feet. When she’s finished, he moves to the edge of the towel and beckons her. “Come over here and lay down.”

She gives the hand that’s patting the towel a tentative look, looks around at her friends and shrugs. She feels David’s arm wrap around her shoulder as she lays down next to him.

“We all had See the Pacific Ocean on our bucket list,” Paul says as he reaches for his notebook. He checks the box with a flourish. “Another one down. Four hundred more to go.”

“Four hundred? You and your lists,” David rolls his eyes and laughs pleasantly. His attention, diverted only momentarily, is drawn back to Mel as he feels her moving from side to side next to him. He asks her silhouette, “What are you doing?”

“Getting settled in. I’ve always wanted to sleep in the sand. I have a feeling this is going to be the best night’s sleep that I’ve ever had,” Mel says as she places her head on David’s shoulder.

The darkness conceals his blush as he kisses her gently on the side of the head.

“Two items marked off in one day,” Mel mumbles as she draws closer to him.

Before drifting off to sleep, David looks over his list in his mind and checks off, Falling in love.

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Silhouette (ˌsɪluːˈɛt)

— n
1. the outline of a solid figure as cast by its shadow
2. an outline drawing filled in with black, often a profile portrait cut out of black paper and mounted on a light ground

— vb
3. ( tr ) to cause to appear in silhouette

source:Modern Language Association (MLA): “silhouette.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 25 Oct. 2012.

Word Origin & History

1798, from Fr. silhouette, in allusion to Étienne de Silhouette (1709-67), Fr. minister of finance in 1759. Usually said to be so called because it was an inexpensive way of making a likeness of someone, a derisive reference to Silhouette’s petty economies to finance the Seven Years’ War, which were unpopular among the nobility. But other theories are that it refers to his brief tenure in office, or the story that he decorated his chateau with such portraits. The verb is recorded from 1876. The family name is a Frenchified form of a Basque surname; Arnaud de Silhouette, the finance minister’s father, was from Biarritz in the French Basque country; the southern Basque form of the name would be Zuloeta or Zulueta, which contains the suffix -eta “abundance of” and zulo “hole” (possibly here meaning “cave”).

source: Modern Language Association (MLA): “silhouette.” Online Etymology


“It is the Late city that first defies the land, contradicts Nature in the lines of its silhouette, denies all Nature. It wants to be something different from and higher than Nature. These high-pitched gables, these Baroque cupolas, spires, and pinnacles, neither are, nor desire to be, related with anything in Nature. And then begins the gigantic megalopolis, the city-as-world, which suffers nothing beside itself and sets about annihilating the country picture.” – Oswald Spengler (1880–1936), German historian. The Decline of the West, vol. 2, ch. 4, sect. 3 (1926).


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