Echoes of Love

by D K Daniels

"Come on… Come On…" Eoin beckoned to me, motioning with his hand to accompany him to the diving spot.

Running barefoot along the promenade I chased after my childhood friend. My toes slopped around in the tiny puddles left by the sea. Anytime my soles touched a spill that had accumulated made me shudder. When I did come in contact with a pool, the wetness left behind a trail of footprints, and picked up sand as I pushed onward. You couldn't exactly miss Eoin if you took your eyes off him. I naturally found myself gravitating back to his beauty any chance I got. Only as I ran out toward the dark green sea off the coast of Salthill Promenade; Eoin's beauty shone through. My heart sank in my chest, and I smiled a toothed grin as I ambled after him. We'd been walking around the coastal area all morning; skipped a day of school for this fun pastime. Even though school has only been back for two weeks, a day's break was inevitable. Earlier in the morning, I messaged Eoin with the hope of stealing him away. The message more or less begged him to pack his school bag with a wetsuit and a towel instead of books. Things were getting unbearable for Eoin. Seeing him smile the way that boy should always smile made my tummy tingle.

Sploshing to a stop in the middle of a puddle, I bumped into Eoin when he stopped. Perhaps a part of me wanted to do it on purpose. On the glorious summer days, I loved our skin to skin contact. However, that day since the temperature was chilling, we both wore some protective clothing to keep the piercing Atlantic torrent at bay. Clinging to Eoin's body tightly, a long-sleeved wetsuit, covered his skin. Every time the boy flexed, ran or did just about anything, I found it hard not to be entrapped by his beauty. Peering down at my wetsuit, I smirked back to Eoin. A surge of interest rushed into my crotch, and for a second, I panicked. My mind leapt to the terrifying ordeal of having him see me with an erection.

"Sorry…" I giggled with a vain attempt to catch a breath.

Eoin smirked at me. Darting his attention to the stairs in front of him, he climbed up.

"Do you think it's going to be cold?" Eoin spoke as he climbed.

Seeing as we both had wetsuits on and no footwear to protect us from the cold Atlantic current, the conclusion seemed like a probable yes. Not that it was insanely cold. The weather remained warm; the water, however, can be a different kettle of fish.

Calling out, I hopped up two steps at a time, "It's going to be freezing… I know it is."

Eoin sniggers, and clambers up onto the flat platform of the diving board. The two of us look at each other in anticipation. Gazing down the water appeared to be okay to jump in. The tide wasn't low; which would result in an injury if we were not careful. In other words, the tide was in at the shore. Anytime we came here before we jumped, we always looked down to ensure ourselves that there was ample clearing between the rocks and the water. I often wondered why there was a diving spot here with a fully-fledged tower. I heard the pillar was built due to a diver who hopped off the rocks at the shore who died sometime in the 1940s. So, we now had a pier with a diving tower.

Nudging the back of Eoin's hand, both of us joined fingers. The water did look rather cold. With the anticipation building up; a giddy flutter burst in my stomach. A parade kept stomping around inside my tummy. I chuckled a little with nervousness and enwrap my fingers tighter with Eoin. Clutching his hand, I held it like a lifeline. His soft and warm presence was comforting enough to bring sunshine to a grey, cloudy day. With our intertwined fingers, I squeeze, then I look over to him.

"Okay… Okay, we go on three," I animatedly said.

Eoin licked his lips and beamed, "alright. One!"

In unison, we shouted, "two."

And I yelled," three."

I leapt forward off the edge of the concrete structure. I compressed Eoin's hand; Eoin squeezed back. The two of us drifted down toward the void for the ocean. A rush of delight shot from my belly to my throat. The free fall blew air up my nose with the rapid descent, and the grin on my face scrunched up to a contorted expression as I pegged my nose with my free hand and jarred shut my eyes. A millisecond later, the severe flood of pressure closed in around me. I shrieked with the sudden cold shock and let go of Eoin's hand and began to sprawl out to bring me back to the surface.

Breaking the water, I let out a shrill of excitement. I skimmed around for Eoin; he had not come back up. From behind, I heard the water break, and he immediately splashed me. Tearing to my right in the water, I kicked away from the enemy. As I backed away from Eoin, I splashed water at him too. The two of us crashed walls of water at each other. I giggled, Eoin giggled too. Naturally, the giddiness of the moment wore off. I floated back toward the ladder and got back up onto the pier.

Hauling myself out of the ocean, I raced for the steps. Eoin was hot on my tail. I didn't look back. Racing for the same platform both of us dived off, I shot for the ledge again. Only before I could get to it; Eoin latched his arms around me tightly. Practically hugging me; the two of us toppled from the pilling. My wetsuit pressed to his wetsuit; I didn't mind the company. Stuck to my back, I subconsciously curled into a ball, and like that Eoin prepared himself for the submersion. Once we hit the sea, the two of us broke apart. Opening my eyes blackness surrounded me with obscured rays of white light. Wiping my face; I quiver with the coldness of the water, and the mysterious fun we are having. Eoin bobbed in the water, less than a foot away from me. Veins of liquid ran from his sopping head. He too was wiping the receding water from his eyes.

"That was fun…," He gasped. Water flicked up into his face, and his reaction to the salty aftertaste was to spit out the remains.

"Eweee," I scolded.

Unsure what I was referring to, Eoin, swiped away the water from his face, yet again, and smirked.

"Wanna jump again," I asked.

Eoin gave a bemused smile; as if he needed an initiation. It was good to get away from all the craziness this world can throw at you. I had a soft spot for Eoin. I like him in so many ways that I cannot come to understand. Today was perhaps not the best day for swimming; nor the best day to take off school. Yet, with everything that happened, I believed Eoin needed an escape. That is why I chose to steal him away. Eoin is precious; all his quirks and problems made me oddly feel special. Being complete on a daily basis for me is extremely hard, that was why wherever this unique human being went, he made even the deserted bus shelter seem like a home. A place where only the two of us belong. A place to be safe, even when there was nothing to be afraid of.

For over an hour, the two of us messed around in the water until my fingers began to numb. All morning both of us dived off the pier, splashed around, raced each other into the water and appreciated one another's company.

Crawling out of the sea, I headed for the school bags by the seawall. All we brought with us today was an empty bag with a towel, fresh underwear, and our wetsuits. Squatting down, I unzipped the carrier and pulled out my water bottle. My school uniform got rolled into a ball and wedged deep at the bottom of the bag. Taking a sip of my drink, Eoin knelt beside me; undid his school bag and fished out a bottle also. The two of us smiled at each other. Taking a sip, I let water linger in my mouth then swallowed.

"The water was cold today," I murmured to break the silence.

Concluding I should get dressed, so I don't freeze to death, I took another gulp of my drink.

"It was…, "Eoin smirked.

Breaking my stare with him, I shoved my water bottle back to the end of my bag, which came up from a slot between my uniform.

"Will we get dressed," I enquired.

With a nod from Eoin, I zipped up my bag, as did he, and the two of us wandered down the promenade a little toward the open outdoor changing area. Placing the rucksack on the stone outcropping under the shelter roof, I rummaged through the bag for my towel. Removing my school clothes, I put them on the stone bench beside the bag and withdrew the towel. Unravelling the item, I placed my fresh pair of underwear on top of my school stuff. Immediately I began to dry my hair and face. When my hair was as dry as I could get it, I tried opening the wetsuit and failed.

"Can you open the zip at the back," I asked.

Eoin set up shop across from me; he'd been towelling his hair when I asked him. Eoin poked his head out from beneath the cloth; his messy hair ruffled from the brim underneath. My knees went weak by the cuteness factor. Eoin smiled; my heart worked faster in my chest. My cheeks were a little red from the cold, but all this made his beauty stunning to me. Removing the fabric from his head, he tossed it over his arm as he came to assist. Fumbling around, Eoin took hold of the zipper on the back and undid the tight swimwear. The fresh air flushed in from the inlet. Arousal charged its mighty wave of excitement through my veins, and my penis began to harden. Stripping the top half of the suit down, I let it drape over my crotch and bum.

"Can you do mine," Eoin said.

Seeing as he did it for me, I swung around to do his. Eoin faced forward, and I reached out to pry the back of his wetsuit open. Peeling the zipper down, the bare skin of his back revealed itself. It was wet, and along the ridge of his spine, millions of little goose bumps formed. Unsure what was coming over me with the erection taking place south, I reached out and traced my fingertips down the length his back. Holding onto the zipper with the left; I let my right hand disappear into the confines of the wetsuit. For a moment, I didn't think of the side effects of what I was doing. In a way, I was touching Eoin, the way he had moved me emotionally.

Since the boy I was totally into didn't resist, I let go of the zipper and started to edge down the shoulders of his wetsuit. Coming into place, a whole load of bruises appeared. I knew what they were from; and who had done them. Eoin's father hits him, always below the collar though. The first time I saw him like this was when he stayed the night at my house about nine months ago. I knew Eoin's father was violent, and on occasion, the man lashed out. In those last couple of months, however, the spills of rage had become a common occurrence. Only, I never saw it like this. In a way, Eoin held onto me the same way I held onto him. It is something totally crazy, and yet so wonderful that happens every time he decides to stay on longer when we hang out. The times he graces me with those beautiful eyes and gorgeous smile made the moment like winning an Oscar to me.

Eoin bowed his head; the mop of blond hair separated from his neck, and in this split second, an urge flushed into my chest. Leaning forward, I brought pert lips to the small of his nape. I gave a tender peck; not too harsh, not too soft on a swollen bruise. I wanted Eoin to know I am here for him.

Eoin brought his hand up to his elbow and tore the left sleeve of the wetsuit down, followed by the right. The torso proportion dangled from his hips like mine. Understanding nothing else other than the contentment between both of us. I slyly slid my arms by his hips and wrapped them around his flat stomach. A second later, Eoin let his head tilt back; I sank his head to the crook of my neck, and his soft hands held onto mine. The surge of the ocean roared in the distance as my excitement pressed against his ass. Though the sensation did not disgust him, he seemed to appreciate the touch. The cold air chilled my naked torso, yet still, our warmth glued us together.

Listening to Eoin inhale and exhale, I find myself falling in love with his nature. Breathing and appreciating each other's company is what made us. As vulnerable as we were at that moment; I didn't want it to end. Things had gotten slightly heated in the past couple of weeks. Hugs appear to be more than just hugs. I think I am in love. Only how does one know they are in love if they have never been in love before? I feel like I can burst from the seams when Eoin is around. That is how he made me feel; confused and all fucked up.

Shutting my eyes; the world faded out. The churning of the tide drowns out all that matters, and unknown to myself, I let my lips touch the tendon of Eoin's throat. Eoin lets loose a sad sigh, and that's when I stop. Re-opening my eyes; a white haze blinds me for a split-second.

Still holding Eoin, I squeezed him a little tighter.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I don't know how much longer I can take it."

We grew silent. My eyes flickered to the bare wall of the shelter in front of us, then to his bag.

"You can come live with me," I said spontaneously.

"Humph…" Eoin mumbled. Then a sniffle came, followed by a sob.

"I don't want to go home," Eoin mumbled in stress.

"We don't have to go home…" I suggested.

I'll admit; saying it is stupid. I had no idea what I am to do with Eoin. Possibly go for something to eat and see if what he is experiencing passes. I don't want to betray him. He hated himself for when I found out he had all the bruises on his back. Eoin is embarrassed more than anything, and I am afraid to hurt him even worse by telling. I think I am the only person Eoin can trust.

"Where do we go?" Eoin asked.

On cue, I ought to have guessed he'd ask the question after I mentioned it.

"I don't know… Anywhere. Everywhere you want to go," I said.

Eoin took a deep breath and pushed against my arms. Un-wanting to but allowing him his space, I involuntarily let him go. Eoin's energy zapped from his body, and like a zombie, the boy sat down on the stone seat in the middle of the chamber.

Awkward and uncomfortable, I plopped down beside him, resting my elbows on my knees and listened to the waves coming into the shore. Nothing, I had zero words to say to him. My friend needs guidance, and I don't know how to go about it.

Reflecting back to when I met him. I remember seeing Eoin with a group of kids sitting on a pile of flat rocks on the walkway beside the road. I strolled by the bunch and doubled back to pretend I was asking for directions. That was when I noticed it was Eoin. The first time the two of us crossed eyes while talking that day, something magical lingered. I came down the next day hoping he'd be at the beach and surely, he was. Only, I arrived much earlier than anticipated, and I was giving up hope of him ever turning up again. That is until he came down to the waterline by himself. The thing is Eoin remembered me.

Turning to look at Eoin, I reached out and placed my hand on his back. When my comfort was not rejected, I started to rub in a clockwise motion. The two of us remained silent. Except, Eoin's despair softened then crying the stopped. Eoin was a private person by nature, and his belief is to get over the grief as quickly as possible. It was something which drew me to his magnetic pull.

"Can we go back to your house…" Eoin said, stooping his body forward. Leaning on his knees, he looked down at his bare feet. Letting my arm slack, I ceased rubbing his back and removed my hand.

I'll admit the cold was starting to get to me. I don't wish to be rude, but why did Eoin decide to have a serious talk when we are in the middle of getting dried?

"Yeah… we can go back to mine."

With a sniffle, he wiped his nose with a wrist. Eoin said, "not being weird here… but I like it when you hold me. It makes me feel... loved."

A flutter of hope swarmed into my heart, and equally, apprehension flooded my mind with worry. What does it mean that he likes me holding him? How long has he thought that? Does he want me to do it now? Am I good at hugging? Baffled as to how to respond, I stay quiet. I often wonder, does Eoin get love at home? Even as much as a simple acknowledgement on behalf of his father. Things may seem weird; even if he hits him, but I have a gut feeling that Eoin still has respect for his father. In some way maybe, Eoin is praying that he will change. Mam is always saying how people like Eoin's father never change. Leopards never change their spots, and neither do drunk induced psychos.

Standing up, I retrieved his towel, which had been dropped on top of his belongings the moment he sat down. I spread the cloth out as best as I could and brought it to his head. Preceding to dry his hair, Eoin looked up at me with hopeful eyes. I stared down through the centre of both my arms. Eoin looked broken.

"You love me, right?" Eoin asked from beneath the dampened towel.

I locked eyes to him, "Yes, I love you," I murmured.

Unravelling the towel, I hunker down to his level. Placing my palms on his knees and plead.

"Please… Can I tell someone? We need help."

The stare he held broke momentarily and then came back with the tiny spark of courage.

"Will you stay with me," Eoin asked.

Peering down, I said, "always."

The sea sang that day; a rhythm of music to my ears, as much as Eoin's cry for help. Letting loose the towel, it hung from his head. I leaned in and hugged him, dipping beneath the cover to meet him. Pressing my forehead to Eoin's, only the two of us existed at that moment. My emotions got the better of me, and I got teary-eyed. Sniffling, I listened for the sea; it gave a calming effect on my rattled nerves. I could have mentioned something sooner to a responsible adult, but I was afraid to betray his trust. It felt good to have his approval because I was thinking of telling my Mam.

Closing my eyes, his quickened breathing and the sea collided with each other until the ocean drowned out to Eoin's sobs and whimpers. Never before had I witnessed a boy cry like that. Only one thing is for sure. Hearing someone you love a great deal cry as if tormented, makes everything hurt more. Yet, in a way, when it was all over, Eoin sighed, and a single sentence brought warmth to my heart.

The crying ceased after what felt like forever.

Eoin murmured, "I feel better."

"Great," I said.

Smiling, I nudged Eoin's shoulder.

"Let's get dressed you buffoon," I teased.

A grin crossed Eoin's lips, "don't sass me freckles," Eoin shot back.

I giggled and slapped at his hand.

"Come on... you idiot... let's go get something to eat," I chuckled.

Eoin kicked at my leg.

"No, you're the idiot," he joked.

I rolled my eyes and thought for a second.

"Okay, the last one dressed has to lick the bottom of their shoe," I shouted animatedly.

Scrambling back to my clothes, both of us were off. Let's hope I don't lose after making that suggestion. I'd rather not lick the sole of my shoe.

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