You’ll never know unless you try.

Submitted into Contest #136 in response to: Start or end your story with someone saying “You’ll never know unless you try.”... view prompt


Drama Romance Fantasy

“You’ll never know unless you try.”

Her eyes were as blue as the ocean behind her. As I stared into them I half wondered if someone was playing a trick on me. Like if someone had put a cardboard image of Sarah in front of me, with the eyeholes cut out. The waves rolled in over my toes, it felt nice but did little to wash my doubts away. As the water retracted all that left was the ground beneath my feet. 

”What do you say?”, she continued, excited and sparkly. ”You should just go for it! It will be fun!”

Her smile hovered above me like piano keys. 

I looked over at the diving board platform floating not far from where we lay. It wasn'´t too big I thought. I had jumped off cliffs taller than that. Many times however, I almost chickened out but forced myself to take the plunge due to friends and others around cheering me on. I wasn’t a particularly brave man. But I wanted to be. The diving board out there seemed like the perfect way to show off. Simple, not too high, no danger. 

”Look”, I said. ”There are no people there. Perhaps it’s closed or something.” 

Sarah didn’t look away. Her hand on my chest felt heavy and I could feel every grain of sand against my skin as her fingers moved. The sun was high in the sky, making her hair seem on fire. She laughed.

”Why would they close it? Other people have been out there all day. Jumping and having fun. Besides, you don'´t like it when there’s too many people around. Now is the perfect time to do it!”

Although I knew she didn’t mean it like that, it felt like a dig. I really didn’t care much for people. Didn’t want to share space and avoided large gatherings. She was right. But it made me feel boring. The kind of feeling that could force me to jump off a cliff.

The ocean was so calm the sky merged with the surface, making the diving platform seem suspended in mid air. Only one storey, a wide white staircase leading up to the platform about seven or eight feet high. The pontoon itself seemed too small to carry the structure. It was weird it didn'´t topple over. But what did I know about physics anyway?

A splash of water snapped me out of my quandary. Sarahs laugh poured over me as the salt burned my eyes.

”Hey mister! Where you off to? If you’re having heatstroke you should cool yourself off before you self combust!”

I looked at her. Strands of wet hair with trembling droplets framed her face. Her skin had a rosy sheen from the heat and her freckles had multiplied in the sun. Though her eyes looked like pools of ice, they had warmth in them and her smile made my heart swell. She really was beautiful.

I had met Sarah at the hotel we worked at. She was teaching aerobics to people who only did it once. I was an entertainer. Odd job for someone who doesn’t really enjoy the company of others huh? But I was good at it, and the fact that I was made me enjoy it. 

Sarah was sprightly and fun. Always cheery and ready for anything. It was hard not to become infatuated with her at first sight, and even harder to let her go as she passed. Me, I was the opposite. Sure, I could be charming, in song or between sets. But that was mainly due to years of trial and error, and if you saw me three times, you’d hear the same lines at least twice. I was also shy and as before mentioned, not really good with crowds. So when the others went out, I mostly stayed in. Reading about guys I wished I could be.

Sarah also used to have a boyfriend. Andrew. A self proclaimed alpha with slicked back hair and frosted tips, whitened teeth and abs. I didn’t like him. I don’t think anyone really did. But confidence can sell most things. No matter how hollow they are. Or how short...

As it turned out, me and Sarah became friends. Unlikely, but due to location and happen chance. We were all miles away from our families, cooped up on a tropical island in a luxury resort. Hearing our native tongue created a sense of security and home that bonded us all close together.

Many times, after a drunken night out, when emotions overflowed after a fight or missing her family, Sarah would knock on my door late at night and I would console her until we both fell asleep. Her tears still wet on my chest.

Perhaps I was naive to think it would stay like that. And perhaps I should have said no when I felt her edging her head closer to mine one of those nights. But I didn’t. And the kiss that followed left me wanting.

Andrew left a couple of weeks after that. I don’t know if they broke up then or later or before. I didn’t care. Me and Sarah lived in a bubble where the days were always warm and the weather always nice. Should it rain, the rain would only be romantic patter on the window as we lay together in bliss.

But the season was winding down and soon we would be leaving for home. To seasons that would be impossible to ignore.

Sarah sat up next to me and took a sip of water. Over her shoulder I could see other people on the beach, couples, families, children. I couldn'´t make out their faces. Maybe they were looking at us too. Seeing a young couple in love. 

”Look.”, Sarah said. ”You wouldn't even have to swim to get there now.” She pointed out to sea. The diving platform had drifted closer. It looked taller than before.

I reached out and touched the small of her back. Her wet hair felt cool against my skin. 

I didn’t understand it. She was exciting, fun and gorgeous. Why was she with me? I didn’t drink. I didn’t plan parties. I didn’t attend birthdays or social events. Was it just because I was safe? Or was it something else. 

Sharing a blanket with her on the beach used to feel like walking the red carpet on the premier of my own movie. People staring, envious of me for being the guy who got to be with her. Wondering what hidden gems I kept from them. I wanted to be that guy. 

I just wasn’t sure I was.

”If I’m going in the water are you coming with me?”

I opened my eyes just as a shadow passed over me. She was standing now.

Silhouetted against the blue sky, a golden lining around her head.

I sat up on my elbows.

”Can’t we just stay here? Like this. I feel so good right now.” My voice was dry like paper.

Sarah turned and the sun hit me in the eyes, blinding me. 

”I think you should try the tower”, she said. ”It’s right here.”

I blinked and put my arm up to shield me from the light. And I saw it. The diving platform floating right in front of us, not even two feet from the beach.

I sat up and pulled my feet towards me, away from a gripping wave.

”Come!” Sarah held her hand out. I still couldn’t see her as my eyes hurt from the sun. She was standing next to the platform now. The water reached only as far as her knees. 

”But Sarah”, I whispered. ”It’s too close to the beach. The water is too shallow. I will hurt myself!”

The diving platform bobbed against the waves sending swells in over our blanket. The Sarah silhouette kept her hand still. Still reaching out for me.


I sat up. As usual I had kicked the covers off during the night and it lay crumpled like a bad poem at the foot of the bed. I looked over at Sarah. 

She was sleeping calmly. Slow, rhythmic breaths joined with the hum of the ceiling fan. My heart was beating fast as the sudden yank from the dream had startled me. The sheets were damp and my mouth dry. My hands and feet were tingling as if I’d held my breath for too long.

Our luggage stood next to the door of the tiny one room apartment the hotel had supplied us with. The bags were packed but not yet closed. Tomorrow would be our last day here.

Sarah stirred a little in her sleep and I jumped like she’d caught me doing something I shouldn’t. But she didn’t wake.

I however, was wide awake. And I had a choice to make. One I had put off for a long time, something I wished I never had to do.

Putting things off until the last minute was the cowards way. 

I wasn’t brave. But I wanted to be. 

And then I remembered what she had told me in the dream.

“You’ll never know unless you try.”

March 08, 2022 14:45

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