Short Stories

‘Sea’ You Later

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True love, huh?

I gotta say – the idea just didn’t seem possible to me. I mean, how could someone love another person unconditionally? We’re humans. We screw up. There are limits. Right?

I sighed into my pillow. You’re not helping yourself, Ashley. Just because love doesn’t exist for you, doesn’t mean others don’t experience it.

My mother and father were a great example of true love. Every morning, they gave each other a goodbye kiss before they left for work. It didn’t matter if they had had a fight the day before. They always displayed their love no matter what.

Maybe there was true love for me in the future, but right now, it seemed like everyone on earth hated me.

“Ashley! Better get a move on, or you’ll be late!”

I nodded, though I knew my mom was calling from downstairs and wouldn’t even see me. It was just one of those days.

I pulled on my shoes and jogged down the stairs. Grabbing my keys, I did a once over of myself in the mirror by the door. Uhg. This was just not a good day.

“Bye!” I yelled.

“Have a nice day, honey!”

I rolled my eyes. “I’ll try! See you when I get back!”

I walked over to my little, green Honda. It had a few dents, and a little rust was spreading on the rims, but it was mine. I hopped in, started it, then drove away.

Driving down the highway managed to make me feel even more depressed. My life was beginning to get too mundane. I slowed as I neared a stop sign. A few cars drove past. Chewing on my lip, I idled for a moment.

Life is too short.

I flicked on my blinker and turned left. Fifteen minutes later, I was seeing the ocean. It was breathtaking.

“You live so close, and yet you don’t see it very often,” I said with a tsk. The huge expanse of water before me made me smile. The sight filled me with an awe-inspiring wonder I couldn’t even begin to explain.

I pulled off my shoes and socks, tossed them in the backseat, then made my way down to the beach. A man sat out near the water on a rock, fishing. A couple strolled down the shore, a dog running in front of them. I took a deep breath, found a driftwood log, then sat down.

I closed my eyes, leaning back on a higher portion of the log. Cool, ocean air swirled around me. It almost made me start shivering. This is what every day should be like, I thought. No stress. No deadlines. No negative thoughts. Just peace.

I let out a contented sigh.

“You look comfortable.”

My eyes shot open. I looked up into the deepest blue eyes I had ever seen. The face around them wasn’t half bad either. What on earth was he doing talking to me? Why was he even watching me relax?

“Easy now. Don’t be alarmed,” he said. His voice could only be described as soft. “I was just paying you a compliment.”

Compliment. A compliment? I must have made an ugly face because he quickly explained.

“You look comfortable. At ease, in other words. Feeling that way is hard to come by – especially nowadays.”

I couldn’t argue with him. Although, it did occur to me that I needed to say at least something – I hadn’t even gotten a word out!

“That’s true, Mister…”

“Just call me Peter.”

“All right. I’m Ashley.”

“As I was saying, Ashley,” Peter said, taking a seat next to me. “You look very relaxed. Does it come naturally?”

I almost burst out laughing. Naturally? I shook my head. “Not at all. I wish it did, though. Why are you so interested?” Peter, I admit, was an intriguing man. He was outgoing, obviously. And a mystery, above all. Why was he talking to me?

“I admit I’m looking for my own sense of comfort. I search for peace, just like everyone else. It seems you have found it here. Has your life not been very pleasant as of late?”

I bobbed my head. “You could say that.”

“And could I also go so far as to say you came here to escape it all?”

Peter was a mind reader – there was no other explanation.

I nodded again. “Yes,” I said quietly, looking away. “At times it seems like the whole world hates me. People who don’t even know me probably hate me. I’ve screwed up too many times to deserve anybody’s love.” I turned back to him. “So, I came here. The ocean always helps me feel a little better.”

Peter nodded, understanding written on his face. “I must mention, though, how fortunate it is that our paths have crossed,” he said. “Had your life not been stressful today, we would never have met.”

His smile was contagious. “I suppose that’s true.”

He continued. “All things happen for a reason. Everything one goes through is a building block placed on the tower of one’s life. Every hard experience strengthens the foundation. Every good experience helps the tower rise higher. Nothing happens by accident.”

I blinked. “All things happen for a reason,” I repeated thoughtfully.

Peter nodded, then looked back out at the sea. I followed his gaze. Sunshine reflected off the surface of the water, mirroring brilliance. Waves rose and fell with roaring energy. It was scary, beautiful, and oh so wondrous. I needed to come here more often.

“I love the ocean,” I said aloud.

“I love you.” Every tone matched mine, but his words carried a new, weightier meaning.

My eyes leapt over to meet his. “But you don’t even know me,” I sputtered.

He smiled. “If people can hate you without even knowing you, then I have just as much right to love you.”

My mouth just hung there. I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry. I ended up doing a mixture. I covered my mouth, feeling a few salty tears dribbling down.

Peter took my hand. “Don’t ever forget that you are loved.” He drew closer and kissed me lightly.

It was then I woke up. The wind still scattered my hair in all directions, inspiring me with its fresh scent. The ocean still roared. The sky was still blue. And I was still me – plain, old me.

I sat up. There was no man named Peter before me. All I saw was the empty sea. It had all been a dream?

It had felt so real. Peter had to be an actual person. Why was it all just a dream? I couldn’t believe it.

After a while of just staring miserably out into space, a faint smile started teasing the corner of my lips. I had been dreaming. It wasn’t the end of the world. Besides, even if it hadn’t actually happened, Peter still seemed too real to forget. He’d been so encouraging. I wrapped my arms around my middle, feeling warm inside. He would forever be in my memory. So would his precious, silky words.

All things happen for a reason. Don’t ever forget you are loved.

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PS: This short story was initially posted on adelinemwriting.tumblr.com. It has been published on our ejournal with the author’s permission.

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