"I love the smell of salt water in the morning," Caleb said. "It smells so fresh." Helen was hardly listening to the poetry spewing from his mouth. Something more important weighed upon her mind. As they walked down the beach, each of them thought the same thing, but neither realized it.
"You know, I just realized something," Helen said, and she abruptly stopped far from their normal surfing spot. "You are incredibly hot." She kissed him. "Yes! He knows I am crushing!" Helen thought with bliss. But it wasn't to last.
Caleb squirmed away with extreme discomfort. He had a disgusted look on his face. "Helen, gross! Why, in heaven or on earth, would I date you?" He stormed off. He stopped about 30 feet away and yelled, "I thought with you it would be different!"
Helen stood, paralyzed in grief and fear. Sure, it was summer, but Caleb was the most popular guy in school. What would happen when people found out that not only did good girl Helen Levion surf, not study, but that she'd also kissed Caleb Miller, and been rejected. The endless taunts at her brown, stringy, greasy hair and slight pudginess would never cease. "Caleb,"she whispered.
Helen turned around and ran back to her little beach hut along the coast. It was an inncocent little 3-room hut along the coast, but sturdier than steel. It had lasted every beach storm that possibly would faze it. Helen ran inside and yelled, even though it wasn't really needed, considering the size. She ran inside her tiny room and sobbed.
Of course, as all teenage girls do, she thought of the worst case scenarios.
"What if he tells all his friends? What if they realize I'm not a good girl? Is that a good thing?"
Helen, in that moment, decided that the smell of salt water meant nothing to her.
She would push herself to be built, 100% muscle, when school started. She started working out. She'd spend nights thinking about her waist size and, in just 3 weeks of her body-building program went down 2 sizes. If she saw Caleb, she ignored him. "I love the smell of..." she couldn't bring herself to say it. After 3 1/2 weeks, Helen decided to go anorexic. It can only do good, right?
Caleb, meanwhile, was going through something as dreary as Helen. The day of his rejection, he had endlessly cut himself up. Literally. Steak knives, he decided, weren't just for steak.
He stopped surfing and ate all day and all night. It became common for him to call himself stupid, fat, an idiot, and he started to just want to die. He devised plans on how to accomplish this without hurting Helen in any way. Pointless, stupid, don't have a gun. Then, he got it. The lightbulb clicked. He picked up his surfboard.
Helen was running along the coast when she came across Caleb. He was walking toward her. She stopped running and just stared at him. He stopped suddenly about 3 feet from her and said, "It isn't your fault." He started to swim. Helen suddenly realized that she loved the smell of salt water.
"Caleb, don't! Please!" There was a big wave coming. This wasn't good. "Caleb, don't throw away you life! It WAS my fault! Don't surf that wave!" Warnings spat themselves out her mouth like lava from a volcano. She realized that he needed to hear 1 thing. He was close to the wave, but still could hear her if she screamed. "I love you!"
Caleb had heard her warnings, but paid them no mind. He wanted that wave. He needed that wave. Suddenly, he heard, "I love you!" from the shore. He stopped, but couldn't stop the wave. He was too close. Caleb closed his eyes, and screamed, "I love you! I'm sorry!" Then Caleb was floating.
Literally floating! He was on top of the water. He was tired. The swim had taken all his strength. He saw Helen, and she was on the coast. He ordered himself to go on. Every fiber in his being rejected, but he pushed on until he was at the shore. "Helen. Just, promise me you won't forget me." He collapsed.
Helen was in shock. "No! Don't die! Breath Caleb! Stay with me! No!" Thank God she'd taken a life saving class! Pump, breathe, pump, breathe. She repeated the 2 with great fervor. No pulse. "No! Caleb, I'm sorry. It's my fault," she whispered. Then, a raspy voice said, "You blame yourself too much."
"CALEB!" Helen screamed with joy as a young child would on Christmas getting his/her dream gift. "You're alive!" He didn't look good. He was vampire white and his breaths were heavy and tired, as if he was panting. He sat up. "I should've done this a long time ago." He kissed her. They sat there until it was getting dark out and texted each other until Helen fell asleep on her phone.
The two new lovers met the next morning in an unspoken kind of agreement. They were going surfing. Each of them were in wetsuits and had their surfboards in hand. They walked, every now and then stopping to kiss, or talk about how Caleb really should be in a hospital. They stopped at the exact spot where Helen had 1st kissed Caleb. "Caleb?"
"I love the smell of salt water in the morning."