We sat on my truck hood, watching the sun go down over the Apalachicola Bay.
It was our first date. The exact same day her daddy told me, “Jamie can be as mean as a rattlesnake, but she’s good people.”
Then he hollered for her like he was calling hogs for supper. “JAAAAAAMMIIEEEEE!”
She came running down the stairs, her face half made-up, the other half unpainted. “Jeezus, Daddy,” she yelled. “I thought something was wrong.”
He cackled until he pulled a rib.
That day, we were supposed to do something dating people do. Instead, we ended up driving. We never quit talking long enough to discuss what to do.
So, she chatted about her family, I steered. She hummed a few bars of “Watermelon Crawl.” I listened. She knew all the words.
By then, we were a million miles out of town, in the middle of nowhere. I pulled over to buy a tank of gas at a dilapidated station. Of all people, I saw Bobby Donavan—who I used to frame houses with—standing at the gas pump opposite me.
He saw her in the passenger seat, winked at me, and shook his head. “Boy, oh boy,” he said, and that was all.
We kept driving in a straight line. I wasn’t paying attention to where we were. It was a two-lane highway in the middle of the woods. If there were other cars around, I never saw them.
On a whim, I turned onto a red dirt road cutting southward through the trees. Palmettos everywhere. We bounced and tossed in our seats.
The sun was setting in such a way it made the pines look black against a pink sky.
We finally came out of the trees onto a muddy beach. In front of us, the bay stretched outward for miles in each direction—dark blue, like my dress jeans. Not a single house, boardwalk, or boat in sight.
It was as though we were the only two folks on the planet. Or, at least, the only two who mattered.
“I’ve never seen this spot of the bay before,” I said.
“Me neither,” she said. “Are we lost?”
“Just look at this sunset,” she said. “I’m really glad we came this way.”
Well, I don’t know how many sunsets God lets people like me see. Too few. I know how it works. I’ve seen people die, and so have you. But then, I don’t care how it all ends, or when that will happen. Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe loving you was why God made me in the first place.
Lost or not.
I’m glad we came this way, too.