It’s day 1 of my attempt at a daily writing practice. I need to limber up my writing muscles to get back to my long shelved WIPS. I’ve been trying to do so in fits and starts and failing, so it’s time to take a more disciplined approach.
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a story – it is definitely a rough draft – 40 min of just writing, no going back to reread. But I’m pleased with it nonetheless. Feedback welcome!
“Where are you going?”
The boat rocked as I dropped a second seabag into the bottom, leaning down to tuck it out of the way of lines and sail. Waves chuckled along the hull and a light breeze stirred the fine hairs on my nape. Sheila’s toes curled against her sandals in my peripheral vision.
“I don’t know,” I answered, bending to grab the cooler. You know exactly where you’re going, my inner voice chided. My stomach twisted and I leaned on it instead, hands flexing. “I just need…” I couldn’t find the words. I hated this feeling. The shattered, aching, broken feeling that had nothing to do with her, that climbed out of the depths of my past and shadowed everything, every fucking thing, with anxiety and hurt and incipient loss.
The dock creaked beneath her as she moved and my breath caught as she laid her hands over mine, soft and gentle. Sheila crouched to look up at me and my chest caught at her tender expression and the way the light brightened the gold flecks in her irises.
“It’s ok,” she said. I knelt and stared at her. She slid the back of her knuckles along my jaw, tucked a strand of hair back behind my ear. A fish jumped nearby, a hawk cried from high overhead, a car door closing carried far over the water. Soon the shoreline would be buzzing with activity, but by the time all the vacationers woke and started their day I would be far out across the water, bearing down on the little island that called to me with promises of solitude and privacy. I needed to cry, and I couldn’t cry here.
“I don’t understand you,” I whispered. My eyes ached with the wish for tears. She smiled sadly and leaned forward, pressing her forehead to mine.
“I know, honey, and that’s ok,” she said. “Go. Do what you need to do. I’ll be here when you get back.” My eyes drifted shut and I breathed in the smell of her hair, felt the soft puff of her exhale against my skin. Then she was standing, drawing away, and when I opened my eyes the slap of her sandals against her soles followed her back along the dock. She didn’t look back. I didn’t move until she drew the sliding glass door of our romantic bayside bungalow closed behind her.
The newly risen sun reflected off the glass. The breeze swayed the hammock where we’d spent hours yesterday kissing and talking. I wanted that space back. The intimacy, the closeness, the trembling edge of the precipice feeling of gazing into her eyes knowing, KNOWING, that I was a breath away from falling for her.
The sense of drowning rose once more, the leviathan of my fear climbing my back to crouch heavy on my shoulders. It was a moment of looking up through murky water and looking down into an abyss, the chest bursting pressure and head swirling vertigo.
Do what you need to do. Her gentle words whispered through my mind and I forced my lungs to fill and empty, slowly, over and over, until the dizziness eased. I looked back up at the house, wondering if she watched me from behind any of the dazzling sun filled windows. I sat on the edge of the dock and eased down into the boat. I moved the cooler into the stern, loosed the dock lines, gave a gentle shove to push the small craft away from the dock.
A calm serenity hovered within reach as the sail filled with air and the pressure of the tiller in my hand pulled me out of the deep spaces of myself. I would go to that small island that had beckoned me. I would settle in and I would cry and I would figure out why her gentle offer of understanding, affection, and desire poked the tender spots of my psyche. Then I would return and let her hold me.