Home > Coast (Kick Push #2)

Coast (Kick Push #2)
Author: Jay McLean



I woke up in a pool of sweat, my mind racing and my heart hammering in my chest. My heart—my poor, sad, broken heart.

I dreamt about him—the version of him that had me thrashing against the sheets and my fingers gripping tightly to the covers surrounding me, suffocating me in my own thoughts. My own fears.

I hated it.

I loved it.

Which pretty much describes everything I feel for him.

My heart loves him.

My head hates him.

Even now, over a year later.

The first thing I did when my eyes snapped open was clutch a hand to my chest wondering how my heart was still beating after the painful onslaught the visions my dream had created. Only they weren’t just visions, they were memories.

True, life, memories.

He stood over me, his eyes glazed from tears mixed with rage. “I hate you the most, Becca,” he’d said, and I’d stood still, afraid of him.


The boy with the dark eyes and shaggy dark hair whose smile had once lit up my entire world.

And in that moment, I feared him.

It’s an overwhelming feeling, one I can’t put down onto paper like Linda had suggested I do, yet here I am, trying to justify it.

If there was a single word to describe it, it would be torn.

My head.

My heart.

The two parts of myself ripping my being in two.

I should be used to it by now, right? How many times have I woken up in fear, my nightmares grounding me to my spot?




Caused by two entirely different people and circumstances.

One is dead.

One is Joshua Warden.

~ ~




A knock sounds on my bedroom door and a second later, the now familiar male voice speaks. His voice is quiet, barely a whisper. “Are you ready, Becca?”

I shut my laptop and slowly get up, turning to him as I do. His eyes are gentle, yet wary.

I nod, even though we both know it’s a lie.

I’m not ready. How can I be?

But I made a promise to him that I’d try.

Just like I’d try to drive; another item on my list.

It didn’t go well, but at least, I tried.

He’d sat in the passenger’s seat and shown me what everything was, and then asked me to ease onto the accelerator. I’d done it. But as soon as we were on the road, I’d panicked and hit the brake at the same time. The screeching sound of the wheels spinning but the car not moving had set off something inside me. It also set me back three months of therapy. I’d blacked out apparently—like I was living in the nightmare—and I’d just screamed. He’d held me until it was over and then he drove home, where I’d spent the next three days in bed, awake and alive but completely dead inside.




Just like my mother.

He’d kept my bedroom door open, and at night I’d see him there watching me, coffee in his hand, his shoulder against the doorframe and he’d cry.

He hadn’t known I’d seen him.

I’d never tell him.

He’d sat on the seat in the corner of my room and had continued to watch me. I’d thought about Henry Warden, the man who died with regrets, and I didn’t want that for him, so I’d agreed when my therapist had suggested the bucket list… but on one condition. I wanted him with me when I ticked off every one.

Which I guess is why a half hour later he’s standing by my side, twenty feet away from a tour bus with the giant Globe Shoes logo on the side.

“Is that him?” he asks, and I can feel everything inside me move faster, beat harder, and then drop.

My heart.

My stomach.

Everything drops when I look at the bus, at the open door and the kid in his father’s arms, as he gets handed over to his mother.

Tommy laughs, and Natalie smiles as she takes him from Josh, who steps out of the bus and wraps his arms around both of them. He kisses his son first, on the cheek.

And then he kisses her.

On the forehead.

They laugh together—this beautiful family.

Natalie places Tommy on the ground, her hand holding his and they turn and walk away.

“Is it?” Dad asks.

I nod once, tears pricking my eyes as I try to hold it together.

I watch Josh.

He watches his family.

Time stands still.

After a while, he drops his gaze and shoves his hands in his pockets, his broad shoulders lifting as he kicks the toe of his shoe on the ground.

I close my eyes, trying to find some relief from the pain. Pain I was not at all expecting.

Finally, I look up. Up. UP.

And everything stops.


My breath.

His foot.

My heart.

His mouth.

My world.



Then he takes a step forward.

And everything starts again.

Only now, it’s all amplified.

He comes closer and closer, all while I stand still, afraid—not of him—but of the devastating love I still feel for him.

“He sees you, Becca.”

* * *




1. any of the faculties, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body.

He stands two feet in front of me, his eyes as intense as his stare. He looks the same as the image I have of him forever burned behind my eyes—eyes that have wept for him.

His hands are in the pockets of his shorts, his T-shirt stretched across his chest. Physically, he hasn’t changed a lot in the year since I’ve seen him. But it’s his presence that has my feet glued to the ground beneath me.

He’s no longer the sad, beautiful, mourning boy who had needed me like the last time we were together. Now, he stands a little taller, a little more confident. I guess when you work hard to make your dreams a reality, you have every reason to walk with your head held high.

My gaze drifts to the faded gray Globe logo printed across his chest, and I don’t know how long I stare at it, my heart thumping harshly in the walls of my chest before I realize the image is still.


My brow bunches as I look down at my top, watching the rise and fall of my chest created by my heavy breaths before looking back at his.

Still frozen.

I inhale sharply, my eyes snapping to his, and I blink once, twice, forcing back the tears threatening to escape.

He’s holding his breath.

Slowly, I raise my hand, my mouth parting, his name—silent—forces its way out on my exhale.

Then he does the same, his lips spread, his shoulders dropping with his outtake of breath. It’s loud, forceful even. But his single exhale doesn’t just release the breath he held within him, it releases a jumbled mess of memories. Hundreds, thousands of them. All of us.

Josh takes a step forward at the same time my dad’s hand lands on my back. He knows I want to run.

Josh takes another step.

And then two.


He’s close, almost too close, as he bends at the knees, his nose level with mine.

My hands fist at my sides.

Then his lips curve, his eyes widening. “Emerald Eyes.”

The two words are a prayer as they fall from his lips, his voice like a symphony teasing my ears, ears that have roused for him.

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