Chapter 7 (Written by Phoenix2020)
After finishing off the meager remnants of the food that Nicholas’ mom had packed for them, the boys decided to stroll with no particular destination in mind. They made their way north along the island’s main thoroughfare before choosing to climb over the dunes that discouraged the Atlantic from invading the town’s residents and businesses. They took their time, enjoying the salty scent of the brisk ocean breeze as they headed back towards the RV and eventually arrived at the campground, sun-baked and, once again, starving.
Following quick, refreshing showers, Nicholas and Griffin chose to dine at the homely restaurant across the road, “Henry’s”. The food was everything they could’ve asked for and the atmosphere was exactly what a beach restaurant should be. As they left, Griffin noticed a miniature golf course next door and, as it was only 8:30, convinced Nicholas to play a round before heading home.
Still not particularly tired, Griff pulled out the sofa bed, fired up Netflix, and picked up where he’d left off with ‘The End of the F***ing World’ while Nicholas stripped down and crawled into bed with his Kindle and Spotify ear candy, after quickly jotting down the days events in his journal (not diary!).
Griffin sat straight up, disoriented and startled by the unnatural choking & gasping sounds. At first, he thought it was emanating from the TV, which was still on since he’d fallen asleep while watching. “No, it’s coming from Nicholas’ room,” he thought. Now fully awake and alarmed, Griff stumbled into the bedroom to find Nicholas, eyes shut tight and body rigid.
“Nicholas! Wake up!” Griff gently but forcefully shook Nicholas, hands on each of his shoulders. Nicholas’ eyes popped open wide and fearful.
“What happened?” Griffin asked as Nicholas tried desperately to get his breathing to return to normal and his heart rate calmed.
“N-n-night terrors,” he stammered. “I get them once or twice a year. They’re basically panic attacks while sleeping.”
“I knew you dealt with panic attacks, but I never knew you had them at night. That must be horrible!”
“It is. It’s hard to describe but it feels like I’m paralyzed and drowning. I can’t move and I can’t breathe. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! I saw, uh … Cody on top of me, holding me down. I guess that’s what triggered it.” Tears overflowed and Nicholas’ voice caught on a sob that he was trying hard to hold in.
Having friended Nicholas through a number of panic attacks in the past, Griffin understood that no words were necessary. With an arm around him and Nicholas’ head resting on his shoulder, Griff just held him until he felt Nicholas’ body relax. Thinking that Nicholas had dozed off, he eased him down onto his pillow and softly slid out the bed and headed for his own.
Turning back, Griffin answered. “Yeah, buddy? You OK?”
“Stay with me,” Nicholas whispered. “Please?”
Without words or hesitation, Griffin removed his shirt and shorts, having fallen asleep earlier fully dressed, and crawled under the cotton sheet. With Nicholas facing away, he wrapped his arm around his best friend and they both drifted off to sleep.
As the day before, Gustavo awoke the sleeping boys with coffee and bagels, rather than doughnuts. With the exuberant energy that had abandoned Nicholas and Griffin at puberty, Gustavo bounced around the RV while they inhaled their breakfast. “What are you guys doing today? When are you leaving? Are you going to be here tomorrow? We’re leaving the day after tomorrow. Can I hang out with you guys?”
“Whoa, G! Slow down! We have to be out by 4 pm tomorrow so, yes, we will be here most of tomorrow. We were planning to spend today at the beach. I’m going to teach Nicholas how to surf. He’s never tried it!”
“You’re gonna what now?” Nicholas gasped.
“You heard me correctly so be sure to wear your big boy trunks with a secure drawstring!”
Gustavo’s eyes grew big as he jumped up and down. “I wanna surf! Can you teach me, too? I bet Olivia and Lorenzo would want to surf, too! You can teach all of us at the same time! It would be like surf school! It’ll be so awesome!”
“Slow your roll, G Train. I’d be glad to show all of you, but you have to get your mom’s OK first. We’ll go talk to her as soon as we shower and get ready. We’ll meet you at your camper in a bit.”
As Gustavo shot out of the RV, Griffin glanced at his roadmate and noticed the distinct paleness of his face. Flashing back to the events of the previous night, he was immediately concerned. “Are you OK? You look like you’re going to faint. You should sit down.”
“No, I’m fine but I really don’t think I’m going to be able to surf. I’ve never been that far out in the water before.”
Careful not to offend Nicholas, with his many phobias and anxiety triggers, Griffin explained, “I will be right there every second. You saw me yesterday when Gustavo went down with the hang glider. You’ll be perfectly safe. You trust me, right?”
“Of course, I do, and it would be really awesome. Wait until Mom finds out that I surfed! Someone has to get pics and maybe a vid because she’ll never believe I did it! You know, you sounded pretty confident that you were going to teach me to surf before you even asked me.”
“I never intended to ask you. I know you and you would’ve said ‘no’. Why do you think I brought two surfboards?”
“I was trying to convince myself that you wanted one for each foot.”
Chuckling, Griffin stood. “Let’s get ready to go. I’m getting in the shower. Care to join me?”
“Don’t you think it’ll be a tight fit?”
“I have zero problems with that!”