By Anne Lange
Simon shoved his fists into the front pockets of his cargo shorts and strolled along the beach, gazing out over the endless blanket of blue. With every wave that broke the shoreline, his hair whipped around his head and a light, briny-scented spray of water coated him. His younger sister had joked he needed a haircut. His mother had told him a shave would make him not look so forlorn or scary.
With each step, he sunk heel first into the wet sand, cold and clammy against his bare feet. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath in—God, he loved the water—and let it out.
And he hated it just as much.
He opened his eyes and glanced over to where his family and closest friends had gathered on the beach after their day of playing in the sand and a picnic dinner. One of his cousins had brought his guitar, and Simon could hear the faint strums as Dean goofed around with some lively tunes. Most of them had switched to sweats or sat wrapped in camping blankets now that the sun had set. Even with the bonfire they were preparing, the cooler air coming in off the water warranted warmer clothing.
Simon didn’t feel the cold. He didn’t feel much of anything these days.
He appreciated that his family thought this little excursion would help. Though it was more like ripping off a Band-Aid in his opinion. They believed after all this time, it would bring him closure. Allow him to move on and finally fix what appeared to be broken.
But how did one fix a broken heart?
There had been a time that a trip to the beach or an outing on his boat would have done the trick. But not anymore. The boat was long gone. The trips to the beach… Well, this was the first since that day. Hell, he didn’t even own a bathing suit anymore. And if Dean hadn’t dragged him here, he’d be at home in his darkened living room, staring at photo albums.
Everyone around that fire probably thought his meandering along the edge of the water was his way of saying good-bye to the past. He snorted. Fuck. If they only knew. The only thing on his mind had nothing to do with the future.
It should have been him.
Simon trudged along, putting more distance between him and the others. The sounds of laughter, music, and crackling fire faded away until he couldn’t hear them at all.
When he looked up, he’d reached the outcropping of rocks at the end of the beach. If he felt so inclined, he could clamor over those boulders and truly be on his own. Few people bothered because they were wet and slimy, smooth from years of abuse from the sea, making them treacherous to navigate. But he knew from experience that the trip was worth it. After a handful of slips and scrapes, it felt like being on a totally isolated island on the other side.
The perfect place to fall in love.
To make love.
Too many memories reared up and pain sliced through him. Simon began to turn back, not ready to face them right now. They’d come soon enough when he finally closed his eyes.
From the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of something and paused. He stepped into cold water that swirled and frothed around his ankles and craned his neck to see as far around the rocks as he could. Bubbles rose from the other side of a particularly large boulder. As they popped, the scent of Sulphur hit his nose. What the hell?
Simon jerked and stumbled back. That was a female voice. There was only one way onto this beach, other than by boat of course. And his family had been the sole visitors today.
“Oh dear. Now what am I going to do?”
Simon stood there, speechless, while she grumbled and grunted somewhere out of his line of vision.
“How could I have been so stupid?”
He didn’t have an answer for that. He didn’t know how to respond to that voice at all. That soft, sweet, melodic voice.
“Elnora says go. We go. No questions. Just do as she bids. Again.”
Who was Elnora? And who belonged to that voice?
“Could have used a reminder to bring some shoes. And clothes.”