It’s like a movie trailer, when Emma emerges from the waves. An early morning sunray coming from between two wispy clouds spotlights her and sparkles the seawater on her skin. Her breasts—well, I look away but then look back, accepting that I am human and male and twenty-four years old, and that Re’ut likes me that way. Tall, sleek Barak’s still out where the waves are breaking, shaking out his shoulder-length curls between one crest and the next.
I’m just finishing winding up the straps of my tefilin when she reaches me. She stops a couple meters away and smiles, waiting patiently as I fold up my tallit and stow my prayer gear in my backpack. Then we both sit down on the mat that Barak brought back from Thailand, along with Emma. I adjust myself to put just one more centimeter between us. We do not speak at first.
“It’s a beautiful beach,” she says in English, with a heavy French accent.
I nod and take a breath to get my own Hebrew-accented English in order. “It’s our favorite. Part of a nature reserve. We used to come here a lot together. On Fridays during high school. When we were home from the army.”
“You don’t want to go into the water?”
After another pause, she says: “You do this every morning? Pray? Even at the beach?”
I shrug. “Just part of waking up for me.”
“Barak used to do this, too, when you came here, before his trip?”
“Funny,” she says. Her smile is warm, accepting, but uncomprehending. “When I wake up at the sea in the summer, the first thing I want is to go in the water.”
Somehow she’s closed up that extra centimeter.