16: Maryland

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A short drive and a short conversation about pointless topics later, their next stop is Maryland. Adrian pulls into a parking space and leads Autumn to their next activity. 


Though he never said it, Autumn knew that this was something he particularly was excited to do. His expression was brighter than it had been all summer (though the sunburn may have contributed to that). 

They rented a boat and pushed themselves out into the water, where they were at the mercy of the light sea breeze. 

For a few minutes, they simply sit in the hushed silence of water lapping at the bottom of the boat and the breeze rustling the leaves on the trees behind them. Adrian speaks first. He talks quietly, as though not to disturb the beautiful silence created when he wasn't speaking. 

"Beautiful day, isn't it?"

Autumn nods slowly. She's staring off into the distance, the wind causing her hair to flutter over her shoulders like a model's. The sun glints off of part of it, casting dramatic shadows on her face and brightening the hint of brown in her auburn hair. 

Silence falls once again. Adrian does think the peaceful silence is nice, but he doesn't want to end the conversation. 

"So... what's your favorite thing we've done on our summer-long vacation so far?"

She turns her head, focusing now on Adrian's sunburned face. A small, content smile is set in her cheeks. "I can't decide. Everything is so... amazing."

He smiles the same way she is, and turns to gaze into the open sea before them. He scoots closer to her and puts his arm around her. She doesn't react. They sit like that for some time, letting the wind carry them farther and farther away from land. 

She lays her head on his shoulder, and Adrian tenses. Autumn can't imagine why. They were friends, like siblings to one another. Why would this make him nervous?

When the wind changes direction to carry them back to the shore, Adrian takes his arm away. Autumn sits back up. No words pass through either pair of lips. 

They clamber out of the boat and back onto the shore. Both are smiling, sunburned even more but not caring. Adrian's face looks positively pink with sun, and he doesn't meet her eye. She takes his hand as they venture back to the car. 

"That was so beautiful," Autumn says quietly. 

"I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was definitely beautiful," Adrian agrees. 

They drive in silence, Autumn trying to call back the peaceful silence the sea had created. She sighs. 

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