“Were you ever scared when you were in the hospital? Sorry, that’s a stupid question.”
“It’s not stupid. At first, I was. But by the time the cancer returned a third time, I was more angry than scared.”
“Do you worry it will come back again?”
“Yeah, I worry about it, especially when surrounded by my parents. But I don’t want to anymore. I just want to forget about it.”
“I think I understand.” Her heart beat faster when he smiled at her.
“What I didn’t expect was to find someone like you on the way here. I need to tell you something. I have a confession. From the first minute I saw you, I’ve wanted to kiss you,” she told him boldly.
“What’s stopping you?”
“I’m scared. I’ve never kissed a boy before, too much time in hospitals surrounded by medical staff, I guess. Until I met you, I never wanted to kiss anyone. Other things seemed more important. But I remember a visit from my grandma. She asked me about boys, any that caught my eye. Until then I hadn’t thought about it. She said one day I would think about it and told me that love is like an ocean. People get caught in the tides and are swept away. It’s so big, you could lose yourself to it.”
“Is that so bad?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never waded out into it to test the current.”
Noah smiled at her, taking hold of her hand. “I don’t think you have anything to be afraid of. Only a strong person could survive all you’ve been through. Something as simple as love or even just a kiss shouldn’t be any problem for you. You won’t get caught in the undertow or get swept away, unless you want to.”
“It’s still kind of scary.”
“Then maybe you’re thinking about it all wrong,” Noah responded. “Maybe you shouldn’t be focused on the ocean. Maybe all you really need is a tide pool.” Erin grinned, knowing he was referring to himself.
“Would it be okay if I kissed you?” he asked.
Her body quivered in anticipation. “Yes,” she answered nervously. He leaned down, brushing his lips against hers as he exhaled. Then pressing their lips together, the kiss she’d longed for left her blissfully adrift in the tide pool’s rapturous current. His sweet smile followed.
Taking hold of her hand, Noah helped her up the bank of the tide pool. They continued on down the beach. Mesmerized by everything in sight, including Noah, any worries and concerns Erin had about cancer or leaving home vanished. This day became exactly what she hoped for.