Claire smiled to herself. The sun was just coming up, lighting the sky with pinks and blues, the prettiest colors she had ever seen. A soft breeze blew through the air, lifting the sand a tiny bit and blowing the sea foam-smell in Claire's face. She had to push her orangey-red curly bangs out of her face.
Matthew would probably be looking for her soon. He always did, after he woke up. He knew where she was, though. He always did, being her best friend. And sure enough, as soon as Claire rubbed her knees with the heels of her hands, he was behind her and slipping his hands over her eyes.
"Guess who?" He smirked. Claire grabbed his hands, pulling his down beside her.
Matthew was taller than Claire. He was at least six-two and had wavy black hair. His freckles stood out under his eyes, and his tanned skin suggested he spent every day outside this summer, which he did. He plopped down beside her, leaning back on his elbows and taking in the view. She wondered briefly what it would be like to kiss him, just once.
"Why do you come out here every single morning?" He asked as a dolphin jumped the waves in the distance. Claire couldn't seem to get the bangs behind her ear; the barber had cut them too short yet again.
"Why do you visit me out here every single morning?" Claire said, answering and looking at Matthew from the corner of her eyes. Again, she wondered…
"You're my best friend, that's why." He smiled.
Claire felt like flinching, it felt like a sharp jab in the chest. Of course he'd say that. He wouldn't know about the crush she'd had on him since the second grade, when they first met.
It was on the monkey bars when they first met. Second grade, Claire came to school with her frizzy red hair in pigtails, the ends swirled in curls. She had sought him out almost immediately; he was the only one on the monkey bars. He wore blue jeans and a plain white t-shirt, although it seemed to have grass and dirt stains on the front from their day of play.
"Who are you?" She had asked, making her way on to the top, where she usually perched and watched everyone on the playground. Claire remembered feeling like a queen; being able to see everyone from a high point like that.
"Matthew Fisher," He had said, not really looking at her, "But you can call me Matt. Everyone does. Who are you?"
"Claire Baker. And I'd rather call you Matthew." She said, staring at him. "I like to be formal."
"Formal?" The seven year old Matthew asked. "Why?"
"Because one day I'll be a queen," Claire informed him. "And I'll rule the kingdom."
"Queens don't exist in America," Matthew said, making sure in his head he was right. "My big brother told me that when I was little."
"Of course they don't," Claire laughed, "But they do in England. My grandmother lives in England. She says she's seen the queen before."
"Really," Matthew said, raising his eyebrows. "I've seen her on television."
"Well, Grandma's seen her in real life! With her own two eyes," Claire said matter-of-factly. "Want to play King and Queen? I feel like a queen every time I'm up here."
Matthew looked unsure of himself. If he played this game with Claire, would she tell everybody he was playing with a girl? He'd be made fun of for sure.
"Sure," he decided. "But don't tell my friends."
Claire crossed her arms and bit her lip. Should she be offended? No, all boys were like this. And this certain boy was kind of cute…
"Let's play, then." She smiled. He grinned back at her, and they began playing.
"Y-your friend," Claire repeated, "Right."
"What's the matter?" Matthew asked, tucking her hair back for her. How could he manage to do that when Claire couldn't herself?
"Nothing," Claire lied swiftly. "I probably should've gone to bed early last night, with the track meet and everything today."
"You should have," Matthew agreed hesitantly. He could still see something was wrong, but he dropped it. If she wanted to tell him, she would.
Only he didn't know she'd probably never come out and say what was on her mind. If he couldn't figure out how she felt about him, that must mean he didn't feel the same way.
"I should get going," Claire said, standing up and dusting the sand off her jean capris. "Are you coming?"
"Yeah," Matthew said, standing up himself. The sunlight hit her hair, shining through the strands and illuminating her freckles. She wasn't pale like most redheads tended to be. She was really tan, and the only place she had freckles were on her cheeks.
She smiled uncertainly at him. Why was he staring at her? Did she have something in her teeth? Was her bra showing? She looked down quickly, and it wasn't. Then what was he staring at?
"Matthew?" She asked, squinting up at him. "What's the matter?"
He smiled. "Nothing," He said. Then, like a chess game he made his move.
He grabbed her hand.
Claire looked down at their hands. His hands were so much bigger than her own. Her nails were bitten and clipped until they were short and stubby. Her finger tips were aching from the schoolwork she did yesterday. His had calluses from holding the fishing poles all summer. She intwined her fingers in his and stepped closer to him.
"It's about time," She whispered, kissing his cheek.
He smiled down at her. Why had it taken him this long to notice how beautiful her blue eyes were? Why hadn't he made a move before? He'd known her for eleven years now…
"Better late than never," He told her, and bent down to kiss her for the first time. It felt just like she had always dreamed it would. This one kiss answered so many questions.
She no longer had to wonder what it's like to kiss Matthew Fisher.