"Your eyes are like the color of the ocean," she yelled at him, weathering another breaking wave by bouncing on her toes. He squinted and smiled, the kind that spread slow like syrup across his features. Salt was in his mohawk and in the corners of his lips. She grinned back. The constant roar of the waves did not make for whispered confessions of love. They had all the time in the world for that later.
She watched him swim and ride and tumble in the foam and cherished that moment, just as she did when he teased her for neglecting to rub aloe on her sunburn or sang Prince Charming's response to her Snow White imitation.
At the end of summer's first beach day- courtesy of growing into responsible adults- they tumbled into the car wet and weary. Windows rolled down to alleviate the heat, book in hand, she rested her free hand on his thigh the way they always did in car rides. No bucket seats, said Cake. It was perfect, these moments they created. Getting home and letting the dog out, unpacking the sand and shore from their towels, settling back into home. On a holiday for parenthood they called fathers and avoided each others' eyes and held their breath, waiting waiting waiting. It wasn't this year and it hadn't been last, despite what they lectured and warned. But it was coming, slow and sure and inevitable and this time it was just a little bit anticipated. The tiniest of bits. The kind that scattered when you turned on the light or hid in corners at loud noises.
She watched him with wide eyes and an open heart as he made dinner, slicing and setting timers and sneaking olives. The weight of reality was setting in as calls and inquiries came over the line from friends and family; when when when. A question they couldn't answer, a feeling they couldn't point to. Soon, they murmured, soon soon soon. Two years was easy. Five years was cake. But if everyone said it was coming then they had to batten down the hatches, didn't they? They needed to hunker down and store up love like sustenance because it was all they had to go on. If it wasn't now, was it next year? If it hadn't happened, would it at all?
She kidnapped the dog to the bedroom, sneaking pen and paper. Maybe not this year and maybe not next, but between the two of them some concessions could be made. Just this once.
The dog shook once and tottered over wooden floors to the kitchen, all waggy tails and a lolling tongue. He couldn't resist and bent down to the note on the collar, hidden amongst the wiry hair. Happy Father's Day in scribbly writing. His throat caught and he met her eyes, a smile that spread like syrup.