They tell us that by the time we reach our final year of schooling, that last year of our childhood before we step out into the real world as young adults, that we should have some idea of what it is that we want to do with our lives.
Yeah right! As if!
I know that in my case I had spent most of my high school years filled with uncertainty about what the future may hold for me and what it was exactly that I wanted to do after I had left school. By the time we had reached our mid-year exams however, which were a full-blown trial run of the real thing that we would be facing later in the year, I had pretty much made up my mind. Finally!
That taste of excitement from being on stage when we had done the musical the previous year, and my hearing and seeing and feeling the response from the audience on those couple of amazing nights, had pretty much sealed it for me. I wanted to sing and dance and act or at least give it my best shot.
Who knows, I might surprise everyone and actually be good at it!
The reactions of my family members were fairly predictable though. My father, despite the fact that he had been completely blown away by our efforts some months earlier, told me in no uncertain terms that I was fucking crazy and that, "No son of his was going to spend his adult life prancing around on a stage."
My mother, while not entirely in love with the idea, was supportive.
And Jason? Well, he was now convinced that I just HAD to be gay! Although thankfully, those thoughts were shared only between himself and me.
As for the rest of our little gang of friends, of which Jonathon now seemed to have become a permanent part (much to the consternation of the rest of our class), they were all looking in different directions.
Guy looked like he wanted to head into the computer field, but was being pretty laid back about it all. He said hed be happy doing anything really, just so long as I was somewhere around.
Ben, who in some respects I had always looked upon as the most serious and focused out of us all, even allowing for the fact that he spent most of his waking moments goofing off and acting like he belonged in kindergarten, looked like all he wanted to do was head north and be with Samantha, and to hell with everything else.
While Jonathon was definitely going to do Business Studies. Somewhere or other.
I guess that as we were growing older we were all changing. We were no longer the fucked up kids we had been a few years earlier. Life was now starting to take on some meaning and purpose, well, for some of us at least.
So far, Guy and I had also managed to keep the closeness of our relationship a secret from everyone, including Jason, but the further we went, the more difficult it was becoming.
We spoke often about what it would be like to be able to live our lives however we wanted, without the need for all this secrecy and subterfuge, and decided that once school was finished we both wanted to get out of this town and go some place together. Some place where it wouldnt matter what we did or who knew about us. Some place where people could just take us or leave us.
We both liked the idea of heading to Queensland and trying to get into University up there if we could, but that was still a long way away, so we hadnt done anything about starting to make plans or whatever.
We knew that Ben would head off to be with Samantha, who was studying at a new University up on the north coast, the first chance he would get and so we also thought about checking out that place as well, one day when we could manage to find the time.
* * * * *
Autumn and spring were definitely my favourite times of year. One, a season where the trees started turning, bathing the town in a blanket of warm colours, and the other, a season when new life starts emerging and the drabness of winter is smothered with new colours and new sounds and the air is fresh and alive.
By the time our mid-year exams rolled around, autumn had been and gone and winter was now slowly spreading its icy fingers over the land. Spring was still an eternity away.
As always, Guy and I spent as much time together as we could, but its not what you are thinking, we actually did spend most of our time studying. If you feel the need at all to want to check up on us, just ask Ben and Jonathon, who Im sure would back us up. Maybe.
One night in May, about a month out from our mid-years, Guy and I were sitting in his car up at the lookout and gazing out at the city lights below us, just like we did on a regular basis. It was one of the places we liked to escape to as often as we could, where we knew we wouldnt be disturbed by anyone.
We were sitting in the dark, on the back seat of his car, with Guy propped up against the door and me propped up against Guy, my back snuggled into his chest and with his arms wrapped snugly around me. I could hear him breathing softly beside my ear, his warm breath sending a tingle through me each time it touched the bare skin of my neck.
"Is it my imagination, or do you think Ben has changed over the last couple of months?" he asked.
At first I didnt answer, as I started thinking about Ben, about the once happy-go-lucky friend that he had been, compared to the rather serious person he now seemed to be.
"Well?" Guy asked again.
"Yeah," I eventually replied. "I was just thinking about your question. To be perfectly honest, I hadnt really noticed it or thought about it until just now, but now that youve mentioned it, yeah, I do think he has changed actually."
"Do you think hes alright? I mean, we can both see it in him, but how much do you think he has changed? And why?"
"Geez, so many questions! Im almost sorry I brought it up now."
"No. Im glad that you did. Its made we wake up to the fact that weve been spending so much time together that I hadnt thought much about Ben at all lately. I hope hes O.K.?"
"Yeah, me too," he replied.
"But I think Id like to talk to Ben about it."
"Yeah, so do I," he replied, giving me a hug and kissing me on the neck as he did so.
We stayed there for a while longer, neither saying much, but both of us no doubt with our thoughts on Ben.
The more I thought about him, the more convinced I became that I knew what his problem was, and I said as much to Guy.
"And whats that then?"
"Shes not a problem. Christ almighty, they love each other. Dont they?"
"You dont get it do you? THAT is the problem. Shes up there on the north-coast. Hes down here. And how often does he get to see her?"
"Oh," Guy answered. "But he cant do much about that though, can he? Unless he "
"Unless he what?"
"I was going to say, unless he actually goes and visits her."
"Yeah, thats what I was thinking too."
"Do you think we should suggest it to him?"
"Im not sure. We should at least talk to him though, dont you think?"
"Yeah. I think we should. Or more to the point, I think that YOU should."
"Well, you have been his best friend since the year dot, havent you? I think hed listen more to you than he would if it came from anyone else."
"Yeah. Youre probably right," I replied.
We sat there for a while longer, content to just be together and watch the city lights sparkling below us, or study the occasional aeroplane taking off or landing at the airport which sat atop the hills on the opposite side of town, their landing lights passing directly over as they came and went, almost close enough to touch.
Whenever I was in Guys arms I felt safe and secure, and I loved this feeling. I didnt want it to end. Not now. Not ever.
Thinking about Ben though, I couldnt help but now be worried about him. I was fairly sure that he was under a fair bit of pressure from home, with this being the make or break year for all of us as far as school was concerned, but I was just as certain that missing Samantha so much wouldnt be helping him any either.
I knew now that I had to try and talk to him. I had to see if he was alright, and if he needed it, I had to see how we could help him.
After a while, during which we both sat in silence, each to our own thoughts, Guy asked, "Do you want to go home yet mate?"
"So soon?" I asked him, then taking one of his hands in mine I brought it up to my lips, kissing him gently.
"Aaahhhh, I get the picture," he said, hugging me close to him and burying his face into the base of my neck, while running his hand down my stomach and finding its way into the top of the track pants and shorts that I was wearing.
He took a hold of me and instantly things started to happen.
"You always did catch on quick, didnt you?," I whispered to him.
"Well, it helps that I had a good teacher," he answered, giving me a firm squeeze.
Slowly I turned around in his arms, so that we were soon laying stomach to stomach, and groin to groin.
"I love it when we come up here," I said to him, then leant in and kissed him, before he could make any wisecracks about the word I had used.
It was no use though, through lips that were working overtime he managed to say, "Yeah, so do I. Especially when you do too."
* * * * *
Guy picked Ben and I up on the street the following morning, just as he did most mornings these days, and we arrived in time for class with just seconds to spare just as we did most mornings these days.
In the few minutes between when I caught up with him and when Guy picked us up, I hadnt had a chance to say anything to Ben about Samantha, or anything else for that matter, which was something I really wanted to do as soon as possible.
When lunch time came around I figured it was now or never, so as we were putting our books away after the end of the previous lesson, I said to him, "Can we talk?"
He looked at me with that lop-sided, quizzical expression of his, as if he were considering what it was that I would possibly want to talk to him about, but before he could say anything I added, "I want to talk to you about YOU!"
"What the fuck are you going on about?" he asked.
"Come on, lets go down onto the oval."
I had told Guy through the morning what it was I wanted to do, and had deliberately asked him not to come down to the oval with us. He was cool about it all, and conveniently made himself scarce as soon as the lesson had finished, feigning some excuse about having to go to the library and look something up.
We walked in silence down to the edge of the oval, where we sat on a bench in the shade beneath some old pine trees.
"You wanna tell me what this is all about?" Ben asked, starting to sound a little peeved.
"Its about you mate. Were both worried about you."
"Wha ," he started to say, then shut his mouth abruptly.
"Youve looked out for me often enough over the years. Now its my turn to look out for you."
"And do what, exactly?"
"I know youre miserable mate. Youve been like it nearly all year. Only now, youre getting worse. And I think I know why."
Silence. He didnt say a word. He just stared off into the distance, looking kind of sad.
"To be honest, I hadnt even noticed. It was Guy who asked me last night if I thought you were a bit down. Then the more I thought about it, the more I think I realised what the problem was."
More silence. Although this time he did look up at me.
After a while he said, "You might think you know, but really, you wouldnt understand, mate."
"You might be surprised. Try me."
He shook his head.
"Alright then. Let me try. Its Samantha, isnt it?"
He simply looked up at me in amazement, then after a while just nodded.
"You dont know how much I miss her mate. I mean its not just the fooling around and stuff that I miss. Its HER! Its not having her around. Its not being able to hear her voice, touch her face, listen to her laugh. Its everything about her."
"Actually, I think I might know how you are feeling mate. I felt the same way even just for those few weeks over Christmas while Guy was away. Question is, what are we going to do about it for you?"
I nodded. "If youre miserable all the bloody time, chances are well end up that way too," I said to him, with a laugh. "And neither me or Guy want to end up as miserable as you."
"Very fuckin funny, wiseass!"
"Well, its true aint it?"
He looked down at his hands and started fidgeting.
"Yeah. I thought so," I said.
After a while, during which time I just sat studying him, Ben said, "I miss her like crazy mate. But what can I do about it though?"
"You could always go see her."
"Yeah, right!" he scoffed.
"Im actually trying to be serious here bud!"
He thought about that for a minute and then said, "How could I do that? The bloody mid-years start in the middle of next week."
"Well, you could always hop on a bus or something. Just go up for the weekend. I mean, a few days break from studying would do you the world of good I reckon."
"For starters, my folks wouldnt let me."
"Yeah, I suppose thats fair enough."
"It is a good idea though," he said to me with a grin on his face. "And thanks for caring."
"Hey mate. What are friends for? But we still havent solved your little problem though, have we?"
"Itll be alright mate. I think I feel better already, just having talked about it. So thanks."
Just then we noticed Jonathon wandering down the path towards us, with a curious expression etched on his face, as if he were sizing us up, wondering what we were up to.
"If you need a root mate, I suppose you could always ask Jonathon," I whispered to him, jokingly.
Bens head snapped back toward me with a look of total disgust on his face.
"What?" I exclaimed. "I was actually joking mate! Really!"
Slowly a smile washed over his features and he said, "Bastard!"
"Sorry. I just couldnt help myself there."
I looked up just in time to see Jonathon reach us and sit down on a nearby bench.
"Hi guys," he said. "Whats happening?"
"Nothing much mate. Weve just been discussing Bens love life or the lack of."
That was Bens fist connecting with my arm.
"Hey! Watch it!" I said to him, while rubbing the now painful spot on my arm.
"You were asking for that one," Jonathon added.
"Yeah, you were!" Ben chimed in, now laughing.
"Geez, you try to do a guy a favour .."
* * * * *
The rest of the week went by without incident, and by the time Friday came around Ben was positively cheerful again, so I figured that my little chat with him must have done some good. His cheerful mood seemed to infect us all actually, and by the time we finished school that afternoon it was as if we were all recharged and ready for a big weekend.
"What are you blokes doing tomorrow?" Ben asked me as we walked down towards the spot where Guy had parked his car this morning.
"Not sure yet," I replied, while looking across at Guy, who just grinned back at me. "I guess well think of something though. You want to call around and well all go down-town or something?"
"Yeah, maybe. Well see what happens, huh?"
"How about this afternoon? You want to go down to the milk bar or something?"
"Errr maybe some other time huh? I have a few things to do this afternoon. Would you mind just giving me a lift home Guy? Anyway, you blokes need some time together I reckon," he said with a grin.
"Whatever!" Guy replied.
We dropped Ben back at his place and listened to him whistling to himself as he went trough the front gate.
"Later then guys," he called out to us, giving us a wave and then shutting the gate.
We waved back and Guy pulled out onto the road.
"Well, he certainly seems happier," Guy commented. "Your little pep-talk must have done some good then?"
"Yeah," I answered. "It looks like it."
"Where too then? And no, we cant go to my place, Kevin will be there."
"How about we just head downtown. I could do with a milk shake I reckon."
"Theyre not as much fun down there as they are at home though," Guy replied.
"Aint that the truth!"
"Still, well just do the best we can. Maybe we could make a night of it, grab some take-away, and a movie or something? Stay up all night and watch the sun come up?"
"Now were talking. But if were going to do that, how about we head home to my place, we can have a shower and get changed, then hit the town?"
"A shower? Your place? Hmmmm .. sounds nice"
"Just hold your horses lover-boy. Well have to see if anyone is home first!"
"Fine by me babe."
Quickly, Guy did a u-turn and sped back up the hill toward my house, with a grin etched on his face like you wouldnt believe. As luck would have it, there was no one home when we got there, so after doing a quick check of the house we stripped off and headed for the bathroom at a run.
Jesus! If anyone had of walked in!!!
We made it quick and then dried each other off, which was half of the fun I reckoned, then got dressed, ready for a night on the town.
"Those clothes dont fit you all that well," I said to him, admiring the way one of my favourite shirts and cargo pants all hung loosely about him.
"Its alright mate, its a new look, you know?" he replied, doing a little whirl in front of me.
"Ah well, Im going to rip them off you the first chance I get anyway, you know?"
"Well, I certainly hope you are?"
I quickly scrawled a note out and left it on the kitchen table, just telling my folks that I was going out with my friends, and then we left and headed downtown. We started at the milk bar, then afterwards caught a movie (gotta love that Spiderman and aint Tobey so damn cute?), then when that was out we went to a cosy little pizzeria, complete with red and white checked table-cloths, where we sat and talked and ate until it we were kicked out by the owners because they wanted to go home.
"So, what about the rest of the night?" Guy asked me as we strolled to the car. "Its still early yet."
I glanced across at him and even in this light, I could see the grin on his face.
"Well, just so long as Im home before dawn ," I said to him.
"Hey, no problem," he replied.
When we reached the car we got in and Guy started it, and we quickly pulled out onto the road.
"And just where are you taking me, sir?" I enquired.
"Out of town, to a quiet place we both know," he answered, which I immediately assumed to be Georges Creek.
As we drove along, heading out of town on the road that I had expected us to take, I looked across at Guy and started thinking about how grateful I was that he had come into my life, and about how much things had changed over these past months, for both of us.
It hadnt quite been a year since that first day that Ben and I had seen him downtown with his mother, but in that time we had met, become friends and then fallen in love. If he were to leave me today, I thought, I just didnt know how I would cope.
"What are you staring at?" he asked me after glancing across at me and catching me staring at him.
I smiled and said, "Only you. I was just thinking how lucky I was."
"Yeah. Lucky that Ben and I spotted you down town that day last year. How long ago was it now?"
"Ten months, thirteen days and "
"What?" I exclaimed. "You actually know that?"
"Well, sort of," he answered. "Its something that I started doing just after we met, you know, just keeping track of things. I thought I would stop it after a while, but apparently not .."
I just laughed at him.
"Whats so funny?"
"Only you mate," I replied. "Man, thats so sweet."
"Well, hadnt you noticed, Im a fairly sweet guy."
"Yeah, I had actually," I replied, then leant across and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Minutes later we slowed and turned off onto another road, which led down to the picnic area on Georges Creek, and when we finally pulled the car to a halt we found the place to be deserted.
"Looks like a nice quiet night here," I said to Guy as he cut the engine.
"Yeah, just the way I like it," he said to me, as he slid his hand along my thigh.
"Want to see if we cant liven this party up a little?" I asked, leaning across and whispering it into his ear, then teasing his ear lobe with my lips.
"Ohhhhh . I love it when you do that."
* * * * *
My head had barely hit the pillow it seemed, when I was being forcefully shaken awake.
"Whats wrong?" I cursed, without even knowing who it was that was doing the shaking.
"Its for you," my father rather grumpily said, thrusting the telephone into my hand. "Its Bens mother."
"What time is it?" I asked.
"Seven oclock," he replied, then stormed out of my room and, presumably, back to his.
I just stared after him for a moment or three, as my mind wrapped itself around the fact that I had only been back in bed for about an hour and a half, then remembered the telephone in my hand.
"Hello," I managed to eventually say.
"Is that you Tim?" the rather emotional sounding voice said.
"Yes Mrs. Walker. Are you alright?"
"Do you know where Ben is?" she asked, coming straight to the point.
"Im sorry, but no, I dont," I answered truthfully.
"You must do," she accused. "You boys know everything there is to know about the other. Surely he told you!"
"Look, Im sorry Mrs. Walker, but I truly havent seen Ben since Guy and me dropped him home after school yesterday afternoon. And he never said anything at all about what he was doing."
There was an audible sigh from the other end of the line, followed by what I though was a sniffle.
"Are you alright Mrs. W.?"
"He never came home last night Tim. He left a note saying he was going out and would be home soon, much like he does any other time, only this time he hasnt come home. And his bed wasnt slept in last night either."
I refrained from saying that any time that Ive been in Bens bedroom it was never possible to tell if it was last night or last week that his bed was slept in last, it always had that unmade look about it, but thought better of it.
Instead I just said, "Look, Im sure hes alright. If hed have gotten into trouble or anything he would have called someone, wouldnt he?"
"Maybe," she replied.
I did have an idea about where it was that he might be, but I decided that I wasnt going to mention it just at this stage, not until I tried to confirm things first. Instead I simply asked, "Have you tried anyone else yet?"
"Like who? I thought you and Guy, oh, and Jonathon, were his closest friends?"
"Well, we are, but that doesnt mean he might not have other friends."
"But surely you would know about them?"
"Well, maybe. I dont know. How about new girlfriends?"
"You would know more about them than me ," she said, then paused. I could almost hear the cogs turning from here, then she said, "Or old ones!"
"What do you mean?" I asked, while being extremely thankful that she had come up with that conclusion all by herself and that I hadnt let slip by telling her what my thoughts were.
"That Samantha girl. Where does she live?"
"Errr Samantha left town at the start of the year. Shes away at University somewhere."
"Oh. Do you know where?"
"Im sorry, but no, I dont."
O.K., so I lied once!
"Look, Im really sorry Mrs. W., but I dont know where Ben is. If I did, I would tell you. And if I do hear from him, I will. I promise you that."
"Yes, Im still here," she answered.
"If I hear from him, Ill call you straight away. And Ill tell him to call you. Alright?"
"Thank you Tim," she replied, then disconnected.
Despite that fact that I had only had about one hours sleep, I was now wide awake. Somewhere deep in my brain I remembered that I had a mobile telephone number for Samantha, but for the life of me, I couldnt remember where I had written it.
It was while I was searching for it that my father came back into the room, propping himself up against the door frame, startling me.
"So, whats Ben gone and done now?" he asked.
"He didnt come home last night," I replied.
"Jesus, is that all," my father said. "Arent you lucky I dont worry about you when you stay out all night and dont come back in until just before dawn?"
It was enough to make me stop what I was doing and look up at him.
"Yeah. I heard you come in," he said. "Little wonder it took so much to wake you up this morning. I almost felt guilty doing it!"
Not wanting to tempt fate, I said nothing.
"Its alright thought, I wont tell your mother," he said, in quiet conspiratorial tones. "I hope the girl knows how lucky she is."
I think I managed a wry smile, but at the same time I thought I could hear some muffled giggling coming from Jasons room, which was next door to mine.
"So, what are you looking for then?"
"A telephone number. Bens old girlfriend. It was something his mother said, made me think that maybe hes been in touch with her."
"So, you going to give the number over when you find it?"
"No," I answered. "Im going to ring it, and see if shes heard from him."
He just nodded and said, "Good thinking Ninety-Nine." Then just turned and left me to my search.
Moments later Jason appeared at my door, wearing only his boxers, and a grin from ear to ear.
"Whats your problem?" I asked.
"Well, youve sure got the old man fooled at least," he said, then he too turned and left me to my search, before I had the chance to say anything.
I went back to my search, and a few minutes later I came across the program for the musical that we had done last year. Just seeing it brought a smile to my face, as it brought back so many happy memories, so I opened it up and had a quick flick through the pages.
And there it was. On the inside of the cover page Id written Sam and then directly underneath her name, I had written her mobile number.
I went back over to my bed and sat down on the edge, then picked up the phone and pressed the numbers.
And it rang.
And it rang.
Then just about as I was ready to give up, it was answered.
"Hello. And do you know what bloody time it is?" she said.
"Well, its nice to hear your voice too Sam, dearest," I replied.
"Who is this?" she asked, suddenly coming alive.
"Sam, its Tim. Remember me?"
"Shit yeah!" she replied. "How are you? And hows that beautiful boy of yours?"
"Were both fine thanks. How about you?"
"Never better, thanks. Its a great place up here. You should try and come here for Uni next year."
"Sounds like a great idea, but..."
"But I suppose you are looking for Ben, huh?"
"Is he there?"
"Yeah, he is actually. Just hang on a sec."
There were some muffled sounds while I waited, then finally Ben came on the line, saying, "So, you tracked me down huh?"
"It was just a hunch," I answered. "Your mum misses you. She woke me up about half an hour ago wanting to know if I knew where you were."
"Fuck," he said quietly. "You didnt tell her did you?"
"No mate, I didnt. But she started asking about new girlfriends. Then old ones. Then she asked if I knew where Samantha lived."
"What did you tell her?"
"Just that Sam went away to University at the start of the year. But I never said where."
"O.K., thanks mate. I owe you one."
"You better get your ass back here bud. Otherwise your folks will go ballistic."
"Shit, theyll do that anyway."
"I suppose Id better ring them though, before they send out a search party or something."
"Might be a good idea mate."
"How are you going to get home? And when are you coming home? And whats it like up there?" I asked, which only caused him to laugh.
"O.K., one at a time. Bus. Tomorrow morning. And fuckin fantastic well what Ive seen so far."
"Fair enough mate. Look, I better get going. But will you ring your mother? Please? I dont want to slip up during my next interrogation and let slip that I know where you are."
"Alright mate. Will do."
"Give Sam a hug for me."
"No, bugger off. She only gets my hugs," he answered, laughing.
We disconnected after that, and I breathed a little easier.
* * * * *
I cant believe that the rest of the year flew by so quickly after we had finished our mid-year exams.
And as for our exams? We all got better results than any of us had expected. Even Ben did, so we all had cause for celebration. In the aftermath of Bens little trip away however, which, earned him a pretty serious grounding from his folks for starters, there was little chance of actually doing any celebrating. We eventually decided that we would save it for when we would all head north for Schoolies, once our real exams were through with.
In the mean time though, we still managed to do alright, given the circumstances, and partied as best we could, with Ben promising us all that it would be a time that we would never forget.
As the end of the year drew closer, the three of us got involved with the school play again, even though it was traditionally something that the Year Twelve students didnt participate in. It seems that with Samantha and Cameron being involved last year, then Ben and Guy and me this year, the old traditions were starting to fall by the wayside.
There wasnt any singing and dancing this year, just good old fashioned Shakespeare (but with a few new twists). All in all though, it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed being involved again.
A few weeks later, when it was all over and we had walked out those gates for the last time, we vowed to make up for the partying we had missed out on after our mid-year exams. When we arrived on the on the Gold Coast for Schoolies, we reminded Ben about his promise.
With a grin, he told us that he always kept his promises, and needless to say, he did!
One day though, while starting to grow tired of the endless parties, Guy and I managed to slip away from our friends, and we found ourselves on a scenic drive along the coast, when we saw a sign that said the turn-off to Flynns Beach was four hundred metres ahead.
"Check that one on the map will you?" Guy asked, so I fished out the tourist map from the glove compartment and quickly found it.
"Its a nudist beach," I said to him, which soon brought a smile to his face.
"You game?" he asked me.
"Shit. I dont know. Are you?"
"Ill try anything once," he answered.
"Yeah, thats what I was afraid of."
Without any more words being spoken, he turned down that road and we soon found ourselves parked in a car park that had about a dozen cars in it.
"Im not too sure about this mate," I said to him as we got out of the car.
"Come on," he said. "You only live once."
Reluctantly I followed him away from the car, with both of us wearing only our board shorts, and with towels draped over our shoulders, and we took the path down to the beach, which meandered down the hill from the point, through some trees and scrub.
"Well, at least its isolated," Guy said.
"Yeah, I suppose that is something."
When we emerged from the bushes we found ourselves on a sandy white beach, with the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean rolling in, and about twenty people, of all shapes sizes and ages enjoying themselves.
"Like. Wow!" I said to Guy.
"Yeah, thats one way of describing it."
A couple of guys about our age, both naked, walked past us, holding hands, and smiled and nodded.
We turned and watched as they disappeared into the bushes, while following the path back up to the car park.
"Well, what do you reckon?" Guy asked me.
"Were going to have to take it all off you know?"
"O.K. then. How about we strip off. Go for a swim, then come back here and just sit for a while?"
"Fine by me mate," Guy said, then dropping his shorts straight away and stepping out of them and his shoes.
"My turn now, huh?"
He just grinned at me.
I took a deep breath and did the same.
There was no clap of thunder. Nobody started laughing. Nothing happened.
"See? It wasnt that bad was it?" Guy asked.
"Come on, lets hit the water before something does happen."
We found a spot for our towels and shorts and shoes, then headed down toward the water, basically staying clear of most of the other people for the time being, but still, we were on the beach and we were naked and there were other people about.
Yeah. Id say that was a major step forward for us both.
After a while we grew tired of swimming so we headed back up onto the beach and layed ourselves out on out towels for a while, until the sun had started to sink a little too low and we became covered in shadow.
"What do you reckon mate?" Guy asked me as we pulled our shorts back on and started back up the hill. "Will we come back?"
I looked at him and grinned and said, "Shit yeah!"
* * * * *
When we got back to the unit that we were sharing with Ben and Samantha, we didnt tell our friends about our little discovery that afternoon, although Ben did ask us where we had gotten to.
"We just went for a drive," I told him, and he never asked again. I could tell by the look on his face though that he thought he knew what we had been up to. I didnt disappoint him by telling him the truth.
The next day we did exactly the same thing, only this time I told Ben we were heading off for a drive.
"Find a nice spot then did you?" he asked.
"Yeah, something like that," I answered.
We spent about two hours on the beach this time, seemingly now free of the inhibitions that we had had the first time that we had come here. We were letting the constant din of alcohol fuelled parties be replaced by the gentle roar of the ocean, which we found to be quite soothing.
And as strange as it seemed, considering that we were a couple of country kids a long way from home, and who had never even dreamed of doing anything like this before, we felt comfortable here. We no longer attracted the curious stares of the locals as we wandered hand in hand along their beach. We were now just another couple of tourists who had discovered what the locals had discovered years ago.
We swam for a while. We sun baked for a while. Then we decided to go for a walk along the full length of the beach, which I found to be quite an eye opener.
When we were almost back to the point where we had started, just below the car park, Guy said to me, "Hey, arent they the two guys that we saw here yesterday?"
I looked up and noticed the two boys walking in our direction, holding my hand up to shade my eyes and study them a little better.
"Yeah," I answered. "Its a bit hard to mistake them isnt it?"
"Hmmmmm .. especially the bigger one," Guy answered, with a grin on his face from ear to ear, which soon earned him a belt up the side of the head for his troubles.
The four of us kept walking towards each other, all still holding hands with our partners and each pair following the border between where the smooth wet sand, that had waves washing over it endlessly, gave way to dry sand filled with dimples and foot prints. We were set for a collision course, sooner or later, and I noticed that they were talking amongst themselves, and every now and then look directly at us.
"I think theyre wondering if they should stop us and say hi," Guy whispered to me.
"Yeah, well, arent we wondering the same thing?" I replied.
He just grinned at me.
"Do you think we should say gday to them, then?" I asked.
"Sure. Why not?" he answered. "Theyre heading in our direction after all."
As they got closer to us, Guy and I both stopped and looked out toward the sea, where a large oil tanker was anchored some way off shore, but every now and then we glanced up to see if the two boys were still coming. We gave them every chance to check us out and maybe stop if they wanted to.
A couple of minutes later we found out that apparently they wanted to!
"Hi," one of them said as they stopped next to us. It was the shorter one of the two. Fairly cute, I thought, but nothing like the other guy.
"Gday," I answered. "Nice day for a walk."
"Yeah. It sure is," the taller guy said. "Certainly feels a bit different doing it like this though!"
"Yeah. We know what you mean," Guy answered. "But it is fun though."
"Yeah, it is. So, are you guys here for schoolies too?" the shorter guy asked.
I nodded. "Yeah, but we had to get away from our mates for a bit. Things back at our unit are a bit too full on for us!"
They both laughed, then the taller guy said, "That sounds pretty familiar. Booze, bands and busty babes thats all our mates seem to be after."
I laughed. "Sounds like you guys must be staying at the same place as us then."
"Nah, I dont think so," the taller one said. "I think wed have probably noticed you."
We all just grinned at each other.
"Im Tim, by the way," I said, stretching out my hand toward them.
It was quickly taken by the shorter guy, who introduced himself as Luke, followed by his friend, whose name was Matt.
Guy introduced himself and shook their hands as well.
We stood there chatting for a little while, and found out that they were indeed a lot like us. A couple of guys who were from a small country town and who were deeply in love with each other.
It felt so good to see someone else like us. I think it gave us the confirmation that we longed for, letting us know that we werent alone in this world and that it was alright to be who we were.
We also found out that they were staying at one of the motels just down the road from ours.
In the end we all knew that we had to get back to our friends, but for some reason I didnt want to let go of this pair. Somehow I wanted to keep in touch with them, but wasnt sure how to bring it up. In the end it was Luke who saved the day.
"Ummm .. were having a bit of a bar-b-que with our friends at our motel tonight. Would you guys would like to come along?"
I looked at Guy, but couldnt quiet read what it was he was thinking, so in the end I just said, "Wed love to, thanks. But well just have to see what our friends have got planned for tonight first though. Well see how we go. Is that alright?"
"Yeah. Of course. We hope you can make it though."
"Yeah, thanks. So do we," I replied.
We said our goodbyes and we watched as they wandered back toward the path up to the car park on top of the point, still holding hands.
"What do you think?" I asked Guy.
"Nice guys," he answered.
"I meant about tonight, dick head!"
"Sounds good to me. Im game if you are."
"Yeah. I think itll be good for us. Im not sure exactly why, but I like these dudes, and I hope we can get to know them better."
"Yeah. Me too."
We started back up the path ourselves then, heading toward the car park, and noticed Matt and Luke just leaving the car park as we got to the top of the hill.
"Wow. Nice car!" Guy said as we watched them drive past in a black Commodore sedan.
We all waved to each other and they disappeared into the bush as they followed the track back up to the main road.
As we made our way across the car park to our car, I found that I was already starting to look forward to the evening ahead.
Who could say where this meeting may lead us!