The fireworks explode over the dark water that night as the cold sand buries her ankles. Jessie’s grandmother calls out from their cottage, mumbling something about needing a blanket. Jessie says she’s just going to be outside for a few more minutes, and anyway, she doesn’t mind the chilled sea air. She likes how the light gusts of wind keep her steady and sure, and she likes how the past hour was spent in a mesmerized, zoned-out state, watching the various shapes and colors dance throughout the sky. Bruce Springsteen’s words from his River album instinctively resonate.
Say goodbye, it’s Independence Day, it’s Independence Day all down the line.
She misses him, but he’s miles away. He is the west coast to her east coast, her opposite through and through, but none of that really matters anymore. He broke the mold as far ‘potential guys she might be interested in’ goes; he shattered the outlined protocol to pieces. And while she knows that he’s important to her in a way that’s unbelievably gratifying, there are melancholy undertones that can’t be denied. Despite any attempts to surpass the Line of Friendship, it seems as if they are designed to stay encumbered within that refined space. Sure, there are questionable red flags that would impede on romantic compatibility, but she would still gladly have a conversation that tells them otherwise, that dares them to think outside the box.
And as July Fourth continues to make its presence known along the Atlantic coast, Jessie stares down at her phone, hoping her screen would illuminate with a text message from him. Where are you, Dan. I tried to reach you a couple of times today. It was just one of those days, where an inexplicable loneliness was palpable, and a restless, needy energy followed her movements like a shadow, encouraging her to connect with the people she cares about.
Just say goodbye, it’s Independence Day, it’s Independence Day this time.
Well, she’s certainly not ready to say goodbye. If nothing else, she knows that much.
Forty-five minutes pass, and as wishful thinking would have it, she feels her phone vibrate with a call. Dan’s calling me? Really? He never likes talking on the phone. Interesting. She eagerly picks up on the third ring, but all she hears is static.
“Hello? Dan? Are you there?”
After a bit of laughter, some slurred phrases, ten minutes of solid banter, and an abrupt hang up, she gathers that the crux of this originated from intoxication. He doesn’t usually call. I think his heart expands when he drinks. And with that thought, she goes back inside.
The following afternoon, Jessie immerses herself within the walking traffic of this bustling, seaside town, determined not to allow the intense sun discourage a bit of shopping, and as she scours for a shady spot under a café awning, she dials Dan’s number. His line rings until it reaches his voice mail, as she presumed it would. She wondered if they could somehow talk live. Hearing his voice trumps virtual messaging, which is the standard medium of communication during the times they’re physically apart, which is often. He never liked the phone. Sobriety sealed the window shut.
She lazily strolls back onto the sidewalk, straight into the heat.
Well say goodbye it’s Independence Day, it’s Independence Day, all boys must run away.