As promised, she took me to a shop nearby the beach, choosing a mat and a beach ball for me. She had her own in her blue Subaru, which was coincidentally the same design as the one she chose for me. I brushed the thoughts swarming in my head – this was a tourist spot after all, which meant everything was mass-produced, which meant that it wasn’t surprising to find people with similar items here. There wasn’t anything going on – I kept repeating in my head, trying not to look at her for too long in that blue bikini of hers.
Seeming as if she had read my mind, she had chosen a spot quite secluded from the rest of the beach-goers, which was quite a feat seeing as the beach was packed at the moment. Apparently it was a common thing to do here – to laze around and watch the sunset before heading for dinner and a nightcap. There were a couple of groups that had their portable BBQ grill with them; I was slightly envious but knowing that I had no knowledge as to how to operate them nor did I have anyone to share it with, I had to forget about it.
“You seem tensed,” she said as she sat beside me while applying the sunscreen.
Once again, I had to remind myself not to stare at her body.
“I’m really unused to being around so many people, or so close to a stranger.”
“Well, let’s try to be friends then? Or at least be friendly with each other until we part.”
“I guess that’s workable,” I concluded.
“Tell me about yourself then.”
My mind started racing, thinking of what would be normal to be divulged in such a situation. There was a reason why I was often given the label anti-social by those around me – I often got tongue-tied and would just give up talking to anyone once my throat shuts itself – which wasn’t such a bad thing, in my opinion. It got worse when I get clueless as to how much to divulge – people often thought I was courting drama, when all I did was to try and appear less anti-social than how I normally would be perceived.
“Was that a difficult question?” she asked me when I was too silent for too long.
I couldn’t help it; I blushed. I tried to angle my head away so that she wouldn’t notice my scarlet look yet looking at the small smile that suddenly curved on her lips, I knew I was too late.
“Well, I think I mentioned before that I’m quite reserved. Maybe it would be more direct for me to say I’m quite anti-social. I don’t mix well with people around me – more so because I usually don’t share their interests or simply because I don’t know what to talk about.”
“You’re a complicated person.”
It felt as if she had slapped me hard.
“I guess I am. I’m sorry.”
“I guess it can’t be helped. Tell me simple things about yourself – your age, your interests, your dreams – anything.”
I thought about it hard. Her questions; they seem quite easy.
“I’m twenty-five this year. This is my first time travelling abroad – and the first time travelling alone. I’m a bit nervous, I guess. When my anxiety gets bad, I tend to write. That’s my hobby – I’d either write or read when I have free time. My dreams – well, I guess you can say I’m constantly dreaming? I always seem to be lost in the air. I tend to daydream a lot …” I trailed at the end. I had spoken more than I had intended to.
Glancing at her in horror, I expected her to be looking at me in disgust, just as how the others had looked at me back at my old working place. Which was why I was surprised when she simply laughed at me.
“Judging by your look, I’m guessing you didn’t mean to say that last line. But that was so refreshing – that was the longest you’ve spoken to me from the time we met.”
The blush made itself appear once again.
“Well, I guess it’s my turn. I’m thirty-one and I’m originally from this part of Japan. I moved to Tokyo about seven years ago. I’m a frequent traveler – I don’t think there’s any parts of Japan that I’ve yet to visit – all thanks to being an active member in the culture club. I come here often during holidays to visit my family as my roots are still strong here. So you can say travelling or any sort of outdoor activities is my hobby.”
How could someone like her be thirty-one? Surely that was impossible – she looks younger than me!
I suddenly have an urge to ask her if she was single.
“Oh, and I’m single at the moment,” she added, smiling softly.
Did she somehow read my mind?
“By the way, aren’t you going to swim later on?”
“Not really, I guess. I’m not much of a swimmer.”
“How can you come here and not swim?”
“Well, I actually didn’t plan to head over here. I just wanted to get away from the hotel room that I was stuck in. I was just web-surfing and well, I sort of remembered this place being popular in all those dramas, movies and mangas I’ve come across before. Before I know it, I was standing at the train station.”
She laughed at me.
“I can see the danger of your dreamy side – you can be pretty impulsive.”
“Well, not really. This was the first.”
“By the way, can you put this on my back?” she asked me, passing the bottle of sunscreen to me.
I blinked at her like an owl – surprised at her request AFTER my admission a few minutes ago. Well, it’s not as if I wasn’t wishing for this – if I’m not honest to myself, then to who else can I be? I stood up, taking the bottle from her as I moved closer to her.
As I sat beside her, she flopped onto her belly and reached out to her back, giving a tug on her bikini strings, pulling it undone. Her exposed skin made saliva pool in my mouth yet all I could think was at the moment was how I didn’t want to make a fool of myself – something that I felt I’ve already done in front of her.
Squeezing the lotion onto my hands, I rubbed them evenly across my palms before applying it onto her back. Her skin felt cool against the warmth of the lotion on my palms; moving them in circles, I spread the lotion onto her back, leaving no exposed skin unprotected. Her back felt sturdy beneath my palms – making me realise there was more to her than meets the eye. Sure, she was soft and creamy all over, yet the hint of steel was there.
“Could you get my neck and shoulders too – since you’re already at it?”
I continued on as if it did not matter to me – which, it didn’t, not really – as long as she doesn’t ask me to put them onto the back of her thighs. I’ll be drawing a line at that. I’m human too – of course I’d react ‘healthily’.
Why am I overthinking this? Good lord. My anxiety needs a reality check! It’s not as if she’d be attracted to me. What am I even thinking?
“Are you okay?” she asked, all of a sudden.
“Yeah, I am. Why?”
“You seem quiet all of a sudden – and well, nervous.”
“No, it’s just weird for me, that’s all. Like I said, I’m not used to being around strangers.”
“You’re still thinking of me as a stranger when you’ve seen me almost half naked now? What, am I not your type?”
I goggled at her, completely lost with this Japanese woman. Are all Japanese woman like her – insane?
“I’m just joking,” she said when I didn’t reply. “Though I wonder how do I make you feel at ease with me as I am with you.”
“You feel at ease with me?”
“Of course!” she exclaimed exasperatedly. “Why would I be asking you to do this then? Why would I even bother to spend my time with you – I barely know you.”
“That’s my question too. You barely know me – you’re weird. Who spends time with strangers like this?”
“Well, I admit when I look back, I’d be suspicious of myself too. I have my own reasons though.”
I waited for her to continue, but she didn’t say anything more. Capping the lotion, I reached over to her sides, slightly brushing the sides of her breasts as I pulled the strings back so that I could tie her top once more.
Was I dreaming or did she suddenly turn rigid and inhaled sharply?
She turned to face me as I got up and brushed the sands off my shorts. She raised her hands towards me, gesturing at me to pull her up.
“Let’s go and have a dip.”