Drew stood on the beach, savoring the moment. He was still processing that he was doing exactly what he wanted, and at only 19, starting his chosen career. At 19. He sent his thanks out to the Universe as loud as he could.
“Thank you!” he screamed out across the ocean.
“Yo, bud. What’s up with that?”
His new best friend and right hand man seemed intrigued at his fervor.
“Counting my blessings, friend.”
“Cool.” They hung together side by side absorbing the moment.
“Who’s that chick? Is she with us? I thought I knew everyone.”
Drew responded by waving and yelling, “Hey, Linda!” To Garret, he explained, “It’s my cousin.”
As Linda came closer, Garrett stood taller, straightened his t-shirt, and pressed back his hair.
“No way, man. She’s off limits.”
“Why? She’s hot.”
“The less you say to her, the better. She won’t understand. Her brain takes things literally.”
Watching the staircase tilting in the wind, Linda whispered to herself, “I’m not going up there again. It’s too scary.”
“Why would you? It’s dangerous,” responded a voice from the crowd.
Drew had said every scene could be viewed from the top, yet Linda hesitated. She’d been torn between the years of her mother admonishing her to never touch the stairs and her favorite cousin including her in his movie production.
“No, I can’t do it today.” Tears raged behind her eyes as she raced home to release them into the comfort of her own pillow.
“Hey, brah, your aunt’s on the phone. Does she want you to come to the big house? Shall we hold our breath as we tremble in fear for you?”
“Nah, she’s not like that. Maybe we should quiet down a little, though. Can you pass that around?”
His crew watched as Drew’s face transformed into a visage of ultimatum expectation. After replacing the phone, he scanned the group.
“Did anyone do something I need to know about?”
Quiet faces with wide eyes stared back at him with no sign of guilt.
“Tremble in fear, my friends.”
The longest mile, he thought, as he walked from the carriage house through the dusk to see his aunt. He entered and went toward the light to stand in the doorway of the front room.
“I trusted you.”
Her voice slashed his brain. With no clue to his transgression, Drew considered a general apology, but determined that it was too soon.
“I’m sorry.” Automatic response. He mentally crossed fingers that he didn’t just imply guilt.
“Sit.” He took a chair nearest the egress, eyeing his aunt carefully. Her eyes seemingly riveted to the fireplace, she stated in a soft, yet damning voice, “You broke that trust.”
“What can I do?”
“You’re ignorant of your egregious error.” He stared at the fire with her. Tears brimmed his eyes. “My daughter climbed one of those rickety staircasees every time your crew hit the beach to film.”
“Why?” Names raced through his mind. Who would tell her to do that?
“At your request, Drew, according to her.”
“What? I never . . . fuck . . .”
“Please, Drew. There will be no fucking in this conversation. We’re both educated adults with intelligent vocabularies.”
“Yes, Aunt _____.”
“Those staircases have remained on the beach for over five decades, the last two against my wishes.”
“I know, I know. They’re from that movie. They bring tourists.”
“Tourists.” She said it the way he’d said ‘fuck.’