Nothing Like You Chapter 1 We were parked
at Point Dume, Paul and I, the two of us tangled together, half dressed, half not. Paul’s car smelled like sea air and stale smoke, and from his rearview hung a yellow and pink plastic lanyard that swayed with the breeze drifting in through the open car window. I hung on to Paul, thinking, I like your face, I love your hands, let’s do this, let’s do this, let’s do this
, one arm locked around the back of his head, the other wedged between two scratched-up leather seat cushions, bracing myself against the pain while wondering, idly, if this feels any different when you love the person or when you do it lying down on a bed.
This was the same beach where I’d spent millions of mornings with my mother, wading around at low tide searching for sea anemone and orange and purple starfish. It had cliffs
and crashing waves and seemed like the appropriate place to do something utterly unoriginal, like lose my virginity in the backseat of some guy’s dinged-up, bright red BMW.
I didn’t really know Paul but that didn’t really matter. There we were, making sappy, sandy memories on the Malibu Shore, fifteen miles from home. It was nine p.m. on a school night. I needed to be back by ten.
“That was nice,” he said, dragging a hand down the back of my head through my hair.
“Mm,” I nodded, not really sure what to say back. I hadn’t realized the moment was over, but there it was—our unceremonious end. “It’s getting late, right?” I dragged my jeans over my lap. “Maybe you should take me home?”
“Yeah, absolutely,” Paul shimmied backward, buttoning his pants. “I’ll get you home.” He wrinkled his nose, smiled, then swung his legs over the armrest and into the driver’s side seat.
“Thanks,” I said, trying my best to seem casual and upbeat, hiking my underwear and jeans back on, then creeping forward so we were seated side by side.
“You ready?” he asked, pinching an unlit cigarette between his bottom and top teeth.
“Sure thing.” I buckled my seat belt and watched Paul run the head of a Zippo against the side seam on his pants, igniting a tiny flame. I turned my head toward the window and pressed my nose against the glass. There, in the not-so-far-off
distance, an orange glow lit the sky, gleaming bright. Brushfire.
“Remind me, again?” He jangled his car keys.
“Hillside. Off Topanga Canyon.”
“Right, sorry.” He lit his cigarette and turned the ignition. “I’m shit with directions.”