Eternal Darken Sea
The horizon danced vividly with vibrant shades of claret and amber as the waves came to claim the land. The golden summer’s sun slumped low in the sky, reflecting a perfect twin over the serene turquoise water.
Ava paused briefly, lost in the stolen moment and the hypnotic concoction of colours, crafted by nature’s mother herself. She lived for such splendid colours, a masterpiece of blended tones; unreplicated by mere human hands. The alluring spell broken, Ava commenced her steady ambling across the water’s edge. The sand here was silken and moist, effortlessly accommodating her weight and moulding between her toes thus creating delicate foot-shaped puddles of briny water. The salty sea breeze gently caressed her bare skin like a lover’s touch and sent her platinum hair spraying in a multitude of directions. She loved it here. The small coastal town, once an iconic tourist attraction where gleaming faces frolicked in their own slice of dreams. She didn’t mind its recent decent into neglect and dilapidation, haunted by the void of empty shops and constantly pursued by a promise of renovation. The beach was what she craved, igniting her heart with every solitary, sunset roam.
A misplaced sound startled her, yanking her violently from her thoughts. Ava turned sharply, scanning the parade of shops and bars above the sands. Dark shapes dwelled there as people-shaped silhouettes moved freely, enjoying a drink and a cigarette amidst the warm summer evening.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” she whispered softly to herself, soothing her overactive imagination. “A seagull perhaps?”
Ava spun her gaze upon the sea, scrutinising the few resilient birds that clung to the water. Her roaming eyes caught sight of an unseemly object in the distance, bobbing with the rise of the tide. A person? She raised her hand to her brow and squinted, as if this would enhance her vision. No, a girl?
Panic flooded and she instinctively reached into the depths of her jacket pocket for her mobile phone. Empty. She envisioned the recent events leading to this point and replayed the latest of a long line of intense arguments with her husband. She had ditched her phone at home to avoid the string of “I’m sorry” messages that would surely pursue her to this sanctuary. Fear bubbled and rose from the pit of her stomach, striking and paralysing her vocal cords. Ava spun to face the parade and desperately scanned for help. The street was utterly and hopelessly desolate, absent of any living soul. Dread hit hard as the silence overwhelmed her ears. Ava gingerly approached the shoreline, eyes locked firmly onto the target ahead. Was she alive? She couldn’t tell.
A scream shattered the quiet; blood curdling, it pierced her rigid, trancelike state. Ava launched forward without thinking, wading heavily into the water as the shape began to thrash wildly.
“I’m coming, it’s okay, I see you,” Ava shouted, a sound dwarfed only by the pounding of her heartbeat.
And then she swam, hard and fast like she did as a child in the swimming pools after challenging her friends to a race. The salty water stung her eyes and gushed into her partially opened mouth, forming a foul taste at the back of her throat. More screaming flooded the air, desperate, pleading. Almost there, just a little further. Her chest felt tight, her breaths laboured and restricted. There, just up ahead. Ava increased the pace, exerting every effort, spending the last of her energy. She reached, extending her outstretched hand, groping only water. She faltered, stopped, treading water to keep aloft and peered about her.
Nothing, no one there. She was entirely alone.
The once soothing water of tranquil turquoise suddenly appeared transformed to murky, ashen grey. The sky above reached forth, her beloved colours dissipated and relented to a starless, blackened curtain. Ava frantically looked about, searching for the girl in the blanket of eternal darken sea. The shore seemed so distant, only pinpoints of light illuminated from the far away street lamps. Surely she hadn’t swum that far out? Perhaps she had drifted, pulled by the undercurrent? But where was the girl? So many questions but the unyielding, unforgiving sea offered no response.
Exhaustion swarmed her and she felt feverishly faint yet fought fiercely to retain focus. Her mind raced, lungs constricting and she coughed aggressively. She called out despite the hoarseness of her voice to no avail. She peered down at the water, pushing herself under to steal a better look but the water now began to burn her eyes. The girl was gone, hope was lost and she was left alone. And so she floated awhile, recuperating her strength and reflecting on her earlier fight with her husband. How trivial things now seemed and she suddenly yearned to hold him, to shower him with kisses as intense as when first they met. She closed her eyes and cried, deep salty tears, diluted by her watery tomb and floated into the abyss.
When she finally reopened her eyes, Ava discovered herself closer to the beach than before. Excitement surged as she started forward, making good progress with long strides of her breast stroke. Nearer, closer. She saw the girl strolling contentedly along the shoreline almost at the same instant as the hand beneath her grasped tightly around her ankle.
Ava screeched, a noise not unlike a frightened mouse caught by a prowling cat. She noticed the girl turn in confusion away from her, paused then towards her. The hand yanked harder, hungrier. She gasped, swallowed water, a strangled scream escaped.
Ava saw as the girl now panic stricken, reached into her jacket pocket, hands coming up empty, platinum hair alive in the breeze. Another tug. Ava, blinded under the water struggled desperately, thrashing violently and clawed back to the surface. She sucked air deep into her lungs.
The girl entered the water, splashing clumsily. “I’m coming, it’s okay, I see you,” she yelled.
The girl’s face, so familiar, so like her own. Ava tried to warn her, shouting her objections until her chest burnt like crackling logs in a hearth. But the breeze claimed her protests like the waves claim the land, releasing only a final, desperate scream. And then she was gone.
© 2018 Emmaline C G Hardcastle
Emmaline is passionate about creative writing, appreciating this as a form of expression. Her chosen genre is horror and other such fiction.