Lurking Hope (Part 1)

The sky blushes a beautiful dark red as it kisses the horizon. One would get the idea that they are both long lost lovers, united after years of separation. The wind is playful, in a manner of speaking, the way it runs through strands of dark and light hair, making them fly about and the clouds flirt with the rooftop skylines of the city, winking as they pass them by. Summer has set in, cradling the city in a warm june glow, making the sweat break over the skin of those citizens that bustle about, in a hurry to get somewhere and too busy to take a deep breath.

Besides the many whose feet trample the ground, there’s one who sits cross legged on the sands of a beach, watching the sun dipping below the ocean and retiring for the evening. There’s much that can be appreciated by the onlooking eyes in a scene such as this. Small things like the air carrying the scent of the ocean breeze through those lungs that don’t have enough time to fit in a relaxed mouthful of air in the middle of all the tired sighs; the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, lapping over the feet that intrude the stillness of the sand before pulling away gently, leaving behind only the tingling sensation through the wet skin; darkness slowly spills across the sky as the blue of it all fades begins to drain away; and then there’s the moon. The moon seems shy, this evening, peaking only once in a while from behind the protective cover of the clouds. Like said before, there are many goodies for the eyes to feast on in an avid appreciation and for the mind to enjoy the simple pleasure of company of its own thoughts, and yet the one whose eyes skim through the table, whose ears welcome the soothing sounds and whose mind enjoys the subtle silence, can only appreciate one thing. And that’s the bloody sand in her arse, which has made itself comfortable in her pants, something that she has trouble understanding, in all honesty, since she’s clad in formal pants and a sleeveless button-up and sand has still managed to take up residence in the nooks and crannies where she wouldn’t want to have tiny grains of sand in.

She stays where she is, though, refusing to move from her place. Her mind is a frenzy of insignificant thoughts, being unable to register the beauty in the midst of which she now sit with her arms around her knees, which are pulled to her chest. She isn’t supposed to be here. She’s supposed to be at one of those meetings for one of those companies for which she works. But yet, she’s here.

In her defence, she was on her way. She didn’t  plan to end up where she did, but here she is, anyway. She looks around herself and begins to think back to the time when everything wasn’t the way it is now. She can’t explain what she means by that, but her thoughts venture, regardless, pulling her mind away to a time when everything wasn’t about an urgent call, or a client in crisis. When her life didn’t revolve around conference rooms and business meetings, but rather around a room filled with books and couches, or rather a hall with a stage facing about a hundred or so seats in the audience. She tries to remember when her fingers didn’t type out letters of concerns or important emails to the assistants of clients on a goddamn laptop, but rather punched out words to an enthralling tale on a type-writer. When it didn’t feel like time was holding a gun to her head, threatening to pull the trigger at any given moment, if she slacked for even a moment of rest, but rather when it treated her as an old friend. A time back to when a genuine, heart-felt smile didn’t have to take an appointment to make an appearance on her face.

But it seems too distant, yet close enough for her to taste it on her lips. She keeps those moments hidden under her bed, pulling them out only when nostalgia overtakes her mind. This time, though, it’s different. This time, she doesn’t want to push those moments back under her bed, rather re-live them. And for the past hour or so, her arse has been planted on this all-pants-penetrating sand, being poked and prickled by the tiny grains, while she tries her damn hardest to shake this feeling, that has somehow taken control, off. And for the same past hour or so, only two things have taken place; 1) Her arse has probably obtained a rash and 2) she has failed miserably in shaking this damn feeling off.

Another ding of her phone rudely interrupts her mid-process and she’s counted about twenty seven or so before she gave up and stopped counting. Pulling the phone out of her pocket, she looks at the screen that seems to have been bombarded by emails, texts and missed phone-calls. She groans a sigh of exhaustion when it starts its retched ringing again. Tarantula, the name flashes across the screen, notifying her that her boss is calling. It’s a sudden shift of personality, but at the same time, it’s not so sudden, when she accepts his call and pulls the phone to her ear. She’s barely got a word out before the tarantula is rambling on about something about, “How careless could you be?” and she catches a, “Get your arse over here, now.”

“And if you aren’t here in-”

“You know what,” She cuts off the voice, which bears a surprisingly huge resemblance to that of the wicked witch of the west from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, “I bloody quit.”

And with that, she flings the damn thing into the ocean.

It takes her a moment to realise what she’s done and then another moment for the dread to fill in. She yells in a panicked frenzy and runs to the shore screaming like a madwoman, “I’M SORRY!” followed by, “I DIDN’T FUCKING MEAN IT!”, throwing in the occasional, “CAN’T WE JUST GO ON TO LAUGHING ABOUT THIS!”

She begins to fumble around in the water, hoping for either a high tide to take her away with it or that by some miracle she finds her phone and then by another miracle it survives and by the supernova of miracles, the tarantula accepts her apology. She fumbles around some more, flinging out yells of an attempt at an apology, here and there.

“Not to be a bother,” A voice startles her out of her concentration, “but if you truly want the forgiveness of the ocean, you may want to stop stepping on it.”

She turns her head in the direction from which the voice came. The dark having successfully claimed its throne of the sky, makes it impossible for her to see anything but a silhouette of a skinny form of a human being. The voice that spoke was deep, which means that it belongs to a male and judging by the pitch, he isn’t too much older, but then again, his recent attempt at humour doesn’t exactly scream maturity.

“That was a joke.” His voice is heard again and he steps closer to the water.

“I know martial arts!” She yells at him in a weak attempt to keep him from attacking her, mostly because her evening has reached its optimum level of suckage and embarrassment and anything beyond that is just fighting dirty on the part of her damn fate.

“That’s good to know.” He responds to her previous remark, coming yet closer to where she stood.

“I will not hesitate to kick your arse!” She yelled at him.

“If my stars should ever align in such a way to have my ass  kicked by you…” His voice is the younger sibling of sarcasm, she finds.

“I’m not lying,” She yells again in a final attempt, “There will be some major kicking action on your behind, good sir, unless you stop where you are now!”

That makes him halt. She raises her brows in surprise that he actually listened. She wasn’t expecting him to. Neither of them makes a move, just stand there staring at each other’s outline.

And then he speaks, “What if I assure you that I won’t hurt you, will you come out of the water, then?”

She contemplates his offer, running the idea around her head a few times. He doesn’t seem to resemble any form of a murderer, kidnapper, rapist or all of the above. But looks do specialise in a field of deception. She still can’t see much of him, except his build and the outline of his tousled hair. Well, she, in all probability, just lost her job, if the evening is meant to be made worse, then she might as well get it over with.

She slowly steps out of the water’s reach and stands right in front of him. His facial features come into view as she steps closer to him and the light hits his face at a new angle. She can make out the boyish expression, the one raised eyebrow and his smirking lips. He doesn’t say anything, just looks at her with curious eyes.

“Name’s Andrew.” He raises one hand for her to shake and she places her hand in his.

“Grayson.” She responds with her own name. She never really had a particular liking for her name. She’s taken the idea of changing it, under consideration, but she never got around to it.

“Well, if I may be so bold to ask,” He says, still gripping her hand in his, “What the hell were you doing?”

She tries to come up with a response that doesn’t make her sound like runaway mental patient, but then realises that it’s probably too late for that now. And instead of responding to his question, she plops down into the sand and, much to Andrew’s surprise, begins to bawl like a child.

“I fucking… quit… my job!” She squeals in the middle of her sobs.

“And that’s a bad thing?” He asks in a confused tone. In all his years of existence, he’s never once witnessed a behaviour such as this, even after having met all sorts of characters in his life, this one right here, is fairly new.

“NO, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!” She yells at him again, “IT’S THE BEST DECISION I EVER MADE!”

He raises both eyebrows in his befuddlement. He looks at her again, trying to make sense of what this stranger just said, but comes up blank. He tries to come up with an explanation with regard to her actions and then this sudden outburst of hers, and then realises something. He realises that this stranger who just happened to be yelling apologies to nobody in particular, while jumping about in the ocean, is a woman. And that means that he could go on a fucking expedition and manage to find the lost city of Atlantis in a goddamn desert, invent a pill to cure cancer, find Bigfoot and still be unable to understand why a woman does what she does, and what she actually means, when she says something.

And so he quits trying to come up with  his own theory, before he drives himself absolutely bonkers out of his mind, and says, “Not to be too crude, but if quitting your job is the best decision you ever made, then why the fuck are you weeping?”

“Does it even matter?” She asks him, wiping away some of the snot.She isn’t quite in the mood to explain things to him, knowing that he’s a boy, which means that even after drawing him an extensive pie chart, chances are he would still be confused.

“Well, yes.” He says to her, pulling out the kleenex wipe from his pocket that’s been there for about two weeks now, and hands it to her, “I mean, now I’m curious.”

She takes the kleenex from him and blows her nose in it with the grace and poise of the kind of lady that she is. She doesn’t answer him, simply because she’s in no mood. All she does is look out into the ocean, trying to figure out the mess that is her life. A soothing silence settles around them, with the only sounds coming from the waves crashing against the shore in comforting rhythm.  She wouldn’t mind if this peace lasted, forever. She wouldn’t mind the sand in her arse, if it meant that she didn’t have to move an inch from where she is, now. She just wants to trap this feeling in a jar and take it home with her so she can push it under her bed along with the nostalgia, pulling it back out on a rainy day. But mostly, she just wants to breathe without straining her lungs.

“Alright,” Andrew’s voice breaks through her thoughts, “You’re coming with me.”

“Excuse me?” She turns to him, but finds that he’s already on his feet, dusting off his hands on his pants. He holds a hand out for her to take, but she just turns her head back to face the ocean.

“Seriously?” He asks in a mocking tone, “You’re going to play that game?”

“If you want to leave, please feel free to do so.” She says, still keeping her eyes away from him, “I’d like to stay.”

She hears him heave out a sigh and then from the corner of her eye, she sees him crouch down onto his haunches so he’s at eye-level with her.

“What makes you think that staying here and wallowing in your misery is going to help you in any way?” He asks her.

“What makes you think that going anywhere with you, will help me in any way?” She counters.

“Well, it has to be shit load better than rotting away here, that’s for sure.” He blocks.

“What makes you so sure?” She attacks.

“That’s it,” he blocks again, “It doesn’t. That’s why it helps.”

“We met literally ten minutes ago, we’ve talked for about five and most of that included me breaking down in the middle of a goddamn beach. You could be an arsonist, for fuck’s sake, how do you expect me to go anywhere with you?”

He considers this for a moment before he speaks, “Okay, then we’ll go wherever you want to go.”

“How’s that any better?” She asks him, “You could still immolate me to Satan.”

“I thought you wouldn’t hesitate to kick my ass” He says with a cheeky grin and a raised eyebrow, making her turn her head towards him and scoff in her response.

“Well, then,” He says, “Are you coming?”

She looks at him with narrowed eyes, hinting a doubt at her capability to mess up her life even more than she already has. It took her less than a minute and about three and a half words to completely shatter all that she’d ever built for herself, and maybe this could be her, not picking up the pieces, but making new ones. She hasn’t a clue as to how to pay her bills, or what she’s going to do next, but she knows that she hasn’t done anything wild in a time too long to count on both hands. So even though the sun’s gone down, leaving her in the mercy of the darkness, she is aware that only in the dark, does mischief thrive. So she’s only one part hesitant when she says, “Yeah, I’m coming..” but she’s three parts her old forgotten self, one who she knows and loves as the excited and wild spirit.

His grin reappears on his face when he takes her hand and pulls her up to her feet, feeling the sudden buzz of eagerness flow through his bones. He doesn’t know this stranger, but something tells him that he’s going to enjoy finding out.

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