Contest #4 shortlist ⭐️



I sit by the sea, watching the waves crash down on the shore. The sickening smell of rotting fish and dried salt envelops me every time I step outside, so I try to stay in the house as much as I can. The sun burns down on the shore, and seabirds scurry around on it in dizzying patterns. Everything about this situation I’m in is so wrong. Especially when I remember where I came from, recalling the freedom I felt, looking down at everything from the top of the world.

I hate the sea. Hate the memories it brings back, hate the smells, the sandy shore, but mostly just hate the thing itself, roaring and pounding relentlessly like some kind of monster. I always have. 

I listen to the shrill cries of the gulls, wheeling around the beach, searching for the dropped ice creams of children playing on the beach. It’s so distant from where I once was, and that only makes everything more painful. The way that Chris dumped me without even listening to my explanation, the way that my parents bought me plane tickets to come down here without first consulting me, the way that my life is spinning out of control.

And to top it off, I’m living here. Waiting for my cousin and sister to come over and have tea and try to have some sort of reunion, and then argue about the will. If it were anywhere else, it might not be so bad. Sure, life is a mess, but it can’t hurt to have the peaceful greenery of a forest, the quiet vastness of a desert, the comfortable familiarity of one of my family member’s homes. Instead, I’m here. By the sea.

It’s not like I have anything against the sea. It’s just too much. Chris always loved the sea, we came here every year for our anniversary for our five year relationship. It’s like they’re trying to wear me down my reminding me of as many painful memories as they can before we actually have to talk.

I put my head in my hands, trying to stop the tears, but they slip out anyway, just like they always do. Just like everything else, the words, the secrets, the memories. 

Everything always comes out in the end. I know that.

It doesn’t matter anyway, because no matter how many people I lose or push away, I always have myself. And me has always been enough before. I wipe the tears off my face and sit up, just in time. There’s a knock at the door. 

I hesitate for a moment before I get up to answer. My sister is standing on the doorstep, polished smile and all. She has a perky bow which seems inappropriate given the circumstances. I say nothing about it though, just giving a thin smile and stepping aside to let her in the door, dodging her attempt to hug me. She rolls her eyes at that, but I just ignore it too.

“It’s so nice to see you again, Aria,” she says.

“Thank you, the pleasure is all mine, Vivian,” I say through gritted teeth. I hate these little games. We both know what she wants. We both know that she isn’t going to get it, because Jessica’s involved. Why can’t we just say it? Why can’t we just talk?

“Jessica should be coming in a few minutes,” Vivian says. She steps past me and enters the house. She makes a disapproving noise, but I ignore her. I take a deep breath before I talk again.

“Would you like some tea?” I finally ask stiffly.

“No, don’t trouble yourself,” she says, sighing. Her eyes roam the empty room. The boxes I shoved behind the couch, the mantle that holds no knick knacks and the bare shelves. I look away. I don’t know why I’m embarrassed. I don’t know why I care at all. Maybe it’s because I remember everything we used to have. I shove the memories down.

I know that everything will come out in the end, but it doesn’t have to now. Not yet.

“Really, it’s no trouble at all,” I say, starting to walk towards the kitchen. Trying to get away from her and her judgey, scrutinizing gazes and cruel, barbed words.

“No, I don’t want tea,” Vivian says sharply.

“All right,” I say with a sigh, sitting down on the couch across from her and pulling out my folder. “I printed out all the important papers. And the lawyer should be coming in a few minutes.”

“She’s coming with Jessica,” Vivian says.

A few minutes later, there’s a knock on the door and Jessica and the lawyer come in. Jessica wearing a fake smile that could put Vivian’s to shame. The lawyer holding a briefcase that’s stuffed full of papers and a sad smile that looks genuine. 

“Would you like some tea?” I offer them.

“No, thank you,” Jessica says.

“I wouldn’t mind some tea,” the lawyer says. 

“Of course,” I say, heading into the kitchen to prepare it. I flash her a smile. I like that she’s not playing games the way the rest of us are. I also like that she’s giving me a chance to escape the rest of my family. “Ginger or chamomile?” I call from the kitchen. 

“Chamomile, please,” I hear her call back. I pull out a chamomile tea bag. 

I start to boil the water to make the tea. I hear the murmur of their conversation, but I already know what’s going to happen. Jessica will win the case, she’ll get the money, like always. Only then, I had Chris, and Mother, and my beautiful house in the mountains to go back to me and comfort me. Now, I don’t have any of that. I feel almost angry at them, for leaving me here all alone with nothing. No Chris, no Mother, no house in the mountains, no anybody. Now, all I have is this stupid, empty, ugly house. 

By the sea.

August 26, 2019 04:09

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