There wasn’t a single cloud in the baby blue sky. As far as her eyes could see, there wasn’t a speck of white fluff marring the endless expanse of blue; it was just blue everywhere, like it went on for days. Fickle winds would occasionally sweep its way across her path, sometimes gently swishing the black curtain of hair that fell to her shoulders, other times almost slapping her across the face in violent gusts that threatened to tear away the bobby pins that kept her hair off her face.
Just as her hair would swish, so too would the trees ripple and sway with the wind. Maybe it was because there were no clouds in the sky to block the sun or maybe it was just the first time she was really paying attention to the trees, but the green leaves seemed to shine a little more vibrantly today. As if they’d come alive as the sun shone down on them with all its strength. She tilted her head back as she strolled casually along the beach’s footpath, enjoying the rays of heat that broke through the canopy above and warmly caressed her face. She took a deep breath through her nose as she closed her eyes and imagined herself away.
If she just blocked out the background noise, save for the whooshing of the wind and the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore, she could almost believe that she was lying down on a boat in the middle of the sea. A boat that was unhurriedly drifting further from land and transporting her away from all the worries and thoughts that played in her head like a never-ending movie reel. She let a small smile crawl across her lips as she thought about escaping like she so badly wanted to – no, like she so badly needed to. It wasn’t just a want anymore; she could feel the desperate negative energy trying to crawl its way back under her skin and knew more than anything she needed to get away, even if just for a little while.
Yes, she wanted to float away on that boat and leave everything behind. As she let herself be engulfed by her imagination, she felt her body slowly relaxing. First her head then her neck and shoulders, until the peaceful tingling sensation had made its way down to the balls of her feet and the tips of her toes. She felt weightless as she let herself be carried away on that boat, facing up to the strong sun and the limitless blue sky.
So this is what the perfect Sunday feels like, she thought. Surrounded by the ocean, the loneliness that had crept under her skin and had seeped into her bones, felt a little less lonely; a little more okay. This is exactly what she had been looking for since her life-changing move all those weeks ago. As the weeks passed, the negative energy kept mounting and she realized she had finally reached her breaking point but she found it. She found the peace she had so been craving and it was settling.
A soft sound interrupted her reverie and she felt herself being sucked away from the floating sensation. What? What was that? She blinked, trying to bring back the boat, the sun and the blue sky – the peace! The soft sound repeated itself.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” A deep-timbered voice abruptly cut into the lingering fog of her dream and made her look up. She saw a young man (no, he was definitely not a young man but definitely a manly man) pointing to the chair next to her. She was still slightly disoriented and she felt herself staring even as she told herself to shake her head and look away.
He smiled uncertainly and she felt a deep flush rise up and blossom on her cheeks. She laughed and told him no, there was no one sitting in that seat and she quickly shuffled to the left so he had room enough to pull out the chair and settle himself beside her. She looked away and her eyes swept the room as the heavy weight of disappointment and loneliness resettled in her stomach and her heart.
“How embarrassing… Of course you weren’t drifting away in the middle of the ocean, leaving this all behind,” she muttered under her breath. No, she was just day-dreaming in a cafe, wistfully staring out the window, completely unaware of the bustle around her; day-wishing on the sun shining brightly outside.
A soft chuckle (chuckle?) from her right made her glance sideways. It startled her to realize she had once again forgot she was sitting in a public space where everyone was witness to her crazy. She made eye contact with the manly man who was looking straight at her with a bemused look on his scruffy, unshaven face and much to her mortification, she blushed again and ducked her head.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help but overhear your… muttering.” He was still smiling and he definitely didn’t look sorry.
“It’s OK…” she said quietly, desperately trying to reign the embarrassment in.
“It must be one heck of a place you keep wandering off to. For what it’s worth, you know you actually live on an island, so getting yourself a boat to float away from here wouldn’t be the most difficult of tasks to accomplish… I even know someone who’d be willing to help.”
She felt a flare of annoyance and looked at him as if he was crazy. Who did this stranger think he was, telling her what she could be doing? What did he know anyway? How could he just offer someone’s help when he didn’t even know her? He must be crazy. She shook her head and decided that it was probably time to head home. In her daze, she hadn’t realized the afternoon passed so quickly and it was probably best to get back before the sun went down.
As she packed away her things – laptop, papers, cellphone – the manly man‘s words echoed in her head. He is right – she lived on an island and could easily get away for just a little while. What was stopping her? She started to get up and walk away as she thought of the old house, the negative energy swirling inside and the way her happiness so easily got sucked out as soon as she entered what was now supposed to be her ‘home’. No. Responsibilities be damned, she wasn’t going back to that soul sucking box just yet. She stopped walking and turned around to find him looking at her curiously.
“You know someone with a boat?” she said.
He smiled a little and said, “Me.”