On their honeymoon they went to the Philippines. Neither of them had ever visited the island, and only one of them knew how to spell it correctly.
Fittingly, since they were still kids, it was a silly game that took them to that part of the world. After making love for the first time as husband and wife, they spun an eggshell globe and took turns shutting their eyes and landing on a spot. The first one to pinpoint a real island got to decide if that was going to be their special place.
The boy, the husband, Theo, was the first to hit an island. It was in the Antilles. The girl, the wife, Cleo, waited for Theo’s decision.
“I’m sure it’s very beautiful there, but it’s not far enough away. I want us to go somewhere very far.”
Cleo spun her pear diamond ring around her ring finger. She was used to wearing rings, but had made a point never to slip a ring on this particular finger. She maintained the virginity of this finger as a way to justify losing her virginity out of wedlock to a man who wasn’t Theo.
Cleo spun next. Then Theo. Then Cleo. For many turns they didn’t manage to pinpoint an island, just landlocked places that made them sad for the people who had to live surrounded by so much land.
Tired of spinning,
Theo felt himself drawn to Cleo’s flesh. He turned off the light without saying a word and lit a milky white candle with the lighter on the nightstand. Cleo scored their lovemaking with whale sounds. Theo laid the bass.
In the morning, Theo spun the globe as hard as he could while Cleo kissed him first on his forehead, then on his lips, then on his Adam’s Apple, then on his sternum, then on his abs, then inside his omphalos, then on the tip of his penis, and it was the latter that rose for the moment and stopped the globe on the Philippines.
A team effort.
Theo and Cleo had visited Europe before, separately, so they knew what it meant to sit on an airplane for 8 hours. But the Philippines was another story.
From Miami to LA was the 1st leg of their trans-global journey.
Then from LA to Tokyo.
Then from Tokyo to Manila.
In all, 20 hours logged of actual flight time, but with airports and waiting, it took Theo and Cleo 30 hours.
To prepare for this trip, Theo and Cleo agreed to eat 1 marijuana truffle each in LA. In Miami, before leaving, they had a bowl and drank 2 mimosas.
But Theo and Cleo shouldn’t be labeled potheads or lushes. This was a serious trans-global journey they were about to embark on, and they wanted every moment to be happy. Popping pills wasn’t their style. They were too organic for western medicine.
In the air, crossing the Pacific, Theo looked at the turbines and had deep thoughts about man power while Cleo read a glossy magazine with mostly pictures and short sentences written by robots.
“Look at the clouds.”
Cleo leaned over his lap and looked at the vapor castles. The sun shined through her designer shades and into her bloodshot eyes. She put 1 hand on Theo’s lap and squeezed his thigh. Theo slid closer to her hand so it felt good.
“This is heaven.”
“Heaven’s whatever you want it to be.”
“No, this is heaven.”
“Heaven, right now, is this – yes. But heaven in a little while will be the Philippines.”
Cleo smiled and felt the marijuana make her laugh. She laughed loudly and threw her head back without care so that every passenger in the fuselage could hear and feel her mirth. Theo laid his bass.
“Did you feel that? I’m still high.”
In the dead of night, when only a few reading lights were lit, Theo asked for a pillow and blanket.
The flight attendant was a girl with a small marking on the back of her wrist that looked like a pinto bean. She brought a pillow and blanket and walked back to her station.
Cleo let her smile sink into her skin as she played with Theo under the blanket. To anyone who cared, it was obvious what they were doing. They were 2 mischievous kids with libidos that could percolate espressos. It didn’t occur to them to use the bathroom. Fingers were sufficient at this altitude.
After landing in Manila, they took a puddle hopper to a discrete location and slung their bags to a straw hut close to the sea. This was their room for the week. 1 bedroom with a living room. No tv, no internet, no cell reception. But all of these amenities, including a bar & kitchen, could be found in the main straw hut at the center of the compound.
Theo crashed on the bed and looked at the soporific fan. He could hear the waves. Cleo shuffled around in the bathroom and came out wearing a violet bikini under a white sarong.
“Let’s make something to drink.”
“OK. The bottle is in my bag.”
Cleo looked at him with a confused facial expression. She wasn’t going to make their drinks. Theo checked himself and stood up to get the bottle of vodka they bought in Manila.
He poured a generous amount and mixed with pomegranate juice. He stirred and added ice.
Drink in hand, they walked to the beach, which was right outside their front door. Theo asked Cleo to count the steps it took for him to reach the sea.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 . . .”
Salt water nudged Theo’s big toe.
“Our age exactly!”
“It will change with the tide.”
This, of course, didn’t matter to him. He only wanted to be realistic about this coincidence.
Theo wrapped his arm around Cleo’s slenderness and scanned his surroundings. Complete isolation. No footprints or basking people sullied the white sand. It was just the 2 of them out here at the edge of the world.
“Wonder if this is what it’s like at the edge of the universe?”
Cleo mulled his question only because the vodka had shattered her sobriety. Theo finished his drink, took off his cotton tee, tossed it on the sand, and picked Cleo up.
“Watch out for my drink, Mister!”
“Finish your drink then!”
She tilted her chin and drained the cup. She tilted her chin again and mashed 3 ice cubes with her straight white teeth that she wasn’t born with but had the luxury of using thanks to years of braces.
Theo carried Cleo into the water. He could see the sandy bottom all the way out. Another island was in the distance, with dense trees that made it look mysterious. A school of shimmery fish flashed between their ankles and around their waists. 1 had a thing for Cleo’s neat breasts. She liked it when this bold fish touched her skin. She wondered if it was exfoliating detritus, like a natural spa treatment.
Theo thrashed around in the water and held his breath and dived underwater and liked the way his hair felt as it skidded against his forward momentum. Theo used breaststroke to swim far away, and then used breaststroke to swim back to Cleo.
He walked the last 10-13 yards towards her, the water chest high. Cleo dipped her head into the sea and came out with her brown hair sleek like a siren.
When their hands touched and her pear diamond glinted off the blushing setting sun, Theo lightly stepped on something glabrous. He found the object with his fingers – an unbroken sand dollar.
Cleo had never seen a real sand dollar fresh out of the ocean. She yelped. Theo gave it to her and they kissed madly and pressed against each other longingly, 2 kids who haven’t lost their fascination with simple sand dollars.
The next morning, Theo rolled two chaise lounges 7-9 feet from the water, parallel to the water, and situated their camera just right on a mini-tripod so that the entire edge of the world was their panorama. He set the timer for 10 seconds and ran back to the chaise lounges. He sat on the closest to the camera, and Cleo stood between the 2 chairs. Her brown hair blew in the steady wind. She held her crazy hair with her left hand and put her right hand on Theo’s trap.
They smiled for the camera, eyes hidden behind their designer shades, but this effect made them look like fabulous stars.
The whole day they took pictures. Some of only Theo. Some of only Cleo. Some of them together, in matrimony.
As the sun intoxicated them with its relentless touch and the vodka thinned their blood, Cleo became more brazen and less aware of herself.
She started to run and jump gleefully for the camera. She started to let the camera see her unintentional laughter. She did cartwheels for the camera, and Theo caught her at the perfect moment, with both legs spread, her inner thighs cavernous at their confluence, her brown hair sweeping sand.
Then they took a picture of their newly ringed hands. These bands were the reason behind their celebration, the island of their happiness.