On the whim of a rather impetuous trip, Ana found herself on the soft sand of an isolated beach in San Andres Island. The warm breeze and the exotic surroundings impaled the surreal loneliness she felt. The coral kaftan whipped by the frantic sea air showcased her lissome silhouette. She caught her reflection on the back of her phone – beautiful, in a soft and naïve way that was enchanting to suitors. The rolling hills and mountainous views reaffirmed she was in some desolate part of South America.

Aspiring to make new friends, she quickly stumbled into a tight knit of ingenious minds that lived well and cared deeply for one another. She was welcomed into their private group and entrenched shortly after in their lifestyle. One of the men in the crew named Jesse was an exceptionally handsome man with a complicated personality and deeply conservative. Yet armed with brooding eyes and a charismatic smile, when he did smile, he could entrance almost anyone at will. Ana didn’t attempt to resist his silent lure and unwittingly gave in to the magnetic attraction. Jesse carried a quiet strength and only ever asserted himself on matters he was most passionate about. Originally from Colombia but raised in America, his personal story was as diversified as the plethora of places he’d lived in. Ana moved into their beach house and they lived as a soul family, a new generation of philosophers, free spirits and renegades.

Soon enough, Ana discovered how her new pack of friends made their living. They were an elite crew of runaway criminals. They conducted robberies throughout South America and found refuge on the deserted island. An instinctive fear rang through Ana as she found out, every societal notion of crime, justice and punishment reflected in her palpable reaction to hearing this news.  She worried for them and tried to present much safer alternatives to produce an income but gradually roped herself to this felonious act. It was equal part rebellion and the inevitable adrenaline rush, her way of relishing inner unconventionality and equal part wanting to protect Jesse.

Each person in the crew had their unique set of skills. The only other girl in the group was an affable blonde with a youthful spirit and intellectually wired like a madwoman. She trusted them. More so, she loved them. Most importantly, she genuinely fit in, the sense of community and belonging reigning over any previous hesitations. They robbed a few banks very successfully and Ana’s apprehensions digressed with every competent operation. Much to her revelation, partaking in this brought her a fair amount of enjoyment. They were never greedy, corrupt or callous. Not a drop of blood was shed. One duffel bag full of stacked currency was the most they ever took and they prided themselves on being in and out of any establishment within 30 seconds. The map of the targeted bank would be studied in such detail that they could perform in their sleep. Enough money to live on, they agreed. They loved life and experienced all of its thrills and opportunities to the fullest. The only indulgence was marijuana which was grown in a moderate amount organically and Ana grew fond of the natural herb for its relaxing properties. During moments when their eyes were hazy and their minds were unrestricted, she and Jesse often made love repeatedly. And the more they connected physically, the deeper they fell emotionally, choosing to let the other carry their hearts as far as love could humanly carry a body into action. They never spoke of it, those three words were never exchanged but love was there, unexplained but felt in the most visceral way.

They remained happy as a group and individually, without responsibility or worry, a sheer lack of commitment and fear, catching every sunset and swimming every day at the beach located right outside their shared home. Every day was a celebration of life and great friendship. Ana could’ve easily spent all of her life there, with her adopted family and Jesse but after almost a year of sharing blissful experiences, something unforeseen occurred. It was a hazy day unlike others and she awoke later than usual, a heady premonition leaving her stiff and moody like the rising ocean tide. When she stepped into the common area, she discovered the group had planned an impromptu robbery. She questioned their motif as they had more than enough to live on. But the habit had been formed, rooted in their chore and bypassed basic means of survival. They wanted to do this hit for the thrill of it.  Ana refused to impose judgment but was greatly disappointed and affected to realize that Jesse would partake in this robbery. Her soul ached with great emotion as she explained that her gut instinct simply didn’t concur with this decision. Something was bound to happen. Her concerns fell on deaf ears as the group refused to realign their idea and reassured her nothing would happen. Staying home alone that night, the sky was looming with the impending darkness of bad news. She sat and awaited their return. They all came back except for the blonde. There was a shift – an ache formed into a knot as they sat silently pondering how long until they were all caught. Surely, there was some tangible evidence on some surveillance camera, some data being put together. Against better judgment, they chose loyalty and even risked everything by going to bail out their fallen member from jail. 
Once the promise of arrest was evident, they all turned themselves in. Ana resisted initially but succumbed when faced between exile and deserting Jesse. Ana vividly remembers the moment she entered the room where the group sat exchanging pleasantries. It was such a typical thing of them to do despite the severity of the situation. As she entered the room, Jesse’s eyes pierced through her with a range of emotions, mainly disbelief. They embraced for a moment as the group cheered them on. In spite of the somber moment and destined outcome, they were all incredibly cheerful. After all, they were still together. No one could understand that kind of loyalty, trust and friendship. Ana sat next to her other half, caressing his face, her fingers drawn to his lips that rarely parted when he uttered those three words. He was being extradited to California as his sister was a political figure and could easily absolve any charges. The charges were surprising minimal as it was their first robbery in this neighboring country. She remembers the ache of knowing things would never be the same again. Even if she moved to California with Jesse, it would be different. It would be reality. The pages had been swept too quickly, misplaced into a foreclosed chapter.

Jolie Adam is a writer, an avid reader and a literature enthusiast. Both dreamer and realist, this story was inspired by a dream she had about being part of some cool criminal gang. Jesse is based on a real person who was also part of the dream. He is just as breathtaking in real life as portrayed in the story. All other characters are fictional and she still does not know how to swim at a mature age.