At this point, the car is driving me more than I’m driving it. I don’t really recall what I did within the last hour besides frantically trying to find something to wear to the beach. I nearly packed everything for this summer vacation besides the one thing I should’ve brought with me: a swimsuit.
I run upstairs, skipping every other step to reach the top floor faster. I ran towards Shawn’s room, hoping he was still there.
“Ya!” I called out into the room. Shawn jumps up and turns around. He holds his chest; startled.
“Hyung, are you trying to kill me or something?” Shawn said more seriously than I thought he was. I shook my head, trying to catch my breath before I spoke again.
“Do you bring a swimsuit with you here?” I asked. Shawn cocked his eyebrow up; clearly confused at the random question I’m asking.
“Huh?” he said, clearly expressing his confusion in words. “I think so, but why?”
“Is it okay if I borrow them for the day?” I didn’t bother answering his question. I was hoping he would just lend it to me, no questions asked.
“Why? You don’t have one?” he asked.
“I wouldn’t have to ask you if I did,” I said back, annoyed and anxious about the time. Shawn went to his closet and pulled something out of the top shelf. Before he hands them to me, he smirks.
“Why do you all of a sudden need a swimsuit?”
“Because it’s the middle of summer?” I tried to avoid the truth as much as I could. Shawn laughs in an uproar.
“Hyung, are you going to the beach?” Shawn teases. My face begins to feel hot, which means it’s most likely turning red. Shawn laughs at the lack of answer I have. “Are you going out with Grace to the beach all of a sudden?” Shawn hands me the swimsuit and I grab it quickly.
“Thanks,” I said.
“If I knew you were going out with Grace, Skylar and I would’ve done a double date,” Shawn teased some more while exiting his room. He pats me on the shoulder before leaving. “I hope your beach date with Grace is straight out of a summer drama,” he faced me and said. He laughs as he exits his room.
The GPS tells me to take the next exit off of the highway. The sun is out and bright; there’s literally not a cloud in the sky. I’m excited, nervous, and confused as to why all of the people Grace can possibly spend her day with, she calls me. I go through all of the possibilities in my head. Does she feel bad for you or something? Does she feel like she has to make up for the last time we saw each other? Aigoo, did I just agree to a pity hang out? Why do I feel like the charity case for Grace today? I start to sike myself out. I think about telling Grace I’m sick all of a sudden; I can’t imagine her really being upset if I cancel our plans.
You know you want to see her. You don’t know if this will be the last time you’ll get to see her. I don’t turn back. I eventually get to her condo; I feel more nervous than I was the last time seeing her at the bar. Maybe it’s because I had time to prepare myself. Now, I feel like I’m running on pure adrenaline.
I drive up her walkway and park the car out front. I turn the car off and take a deep breath. Ya, you’re going to be fine. I look at myself in the rearview mirror before eventually exiting the car. I walk up to her door, not knowing if I should knock or ring the doorbell. The doorbell felt like the safest way.
Moments later, the front door opens and Grace stands there. She wears a short, flowery dress and her hair is pulled back, away from her face. She smiles.
“Hey,” she greeted. I smiled back.
“Hi,” I was too nervous to say anything else at that point. I think she was too. She lets out a deep sigh and looks at me again.
“Shall we go?” Grace asked. I snap out of my thought and take her beach bag from her as we walk to the car. She enters the passenger’s side as I put her bag in the backseat. Jaemin-ah, just fucking breathe. I enter the car on the driver’s side, about to spend my day with Grace Ashmore.
I figured it was best to take the highway towards the pier. Her hair was blowing in the wind, and I felt bad that she kept tucking strands of her hair behind her ear.
“I could roll up the windows and put the air on,” I insisted. Grace shook her head no.
“The fresh air feels so much better,” Grace answered. I nodded, agreeing with her. “It’s like the perfect summer day.”
“It is,” I answered. “I’m looking forward to going to an American beach,” I honestly said. It was true. I always enjoyed a day at the beach, even though I try my best to not get too dark in the sun. But, something told me today I should just allow myself to get tan. I’ve never been, and everyone in California seems to have one. Shawn and Kevin will pass out if they see tanned skin on me.
“You never been?” Grace asked. I shook my head.
“The city doesn’t have beaches,” I answered.
“But there’s Coney Island,” Grace explained. I look over to her and then quickly back towards the road. I shouldn’t be upset that she doesn’t remember our summers back in New York. At this point, they feel so long ago, so intangible. It’s like they didn’t even happen. “We never got around to going to Coney Island?”
My eyebrows cocked up. She remembers.
“We were both always too busy to take a beach day,” I recalled.
“Well, I hope your first American beach experience is everything you wanted,” Grace sincerely said. I look over to her just in time to catch her smile. It will be.