She smelled as sweet as honey, with her big blue eyes and rosy cheeks. Like a little doll, amplified to a larger size. She wore a straw hat, just large enough to cover the top of her perfectly curled golden threads of hair. When I first saw her, I laughed, for she looked just like a goddess, emerging from the sea. Just too perfect to be real.
I dug my feet deep into the sand, wondering if the feeling of warmth would bring me back to reality. My short brown hair flopped down over my ears, brushing across my cheeks as I looked down at the broken shells on the shore.
I didn’t want to look her in the eye, but if I blinked, she would disappear.
She laughed, picking up the largest piece as she tucked her own golden hair behind her ears. “Hello,” she said, smiling at me. “I’m Genevieve.”
“You’re a spirit,” I said, biting my lip. “Or a figment of my imagination. You can’t be real.”
She laughed, tilting her head back as she smiled. “Oh, miss,” she said, reaching to take my hand. “I’m as real as the day.”
I frowned, grabbing my shaking hand behind my back. “Then who are you?” I asked. “If you are so real, what is your name?”
“I told you already, miss.” Her voice was calm and serene, unlike mine, shaking like my hand. “It’s Genevieve. Genevieve Odette Fernanda.”
I frowned, digging my toes deeper into the sand. I didn’t expect her to tell me, but I still couldn’t trust her. She was just too perfect.
“Won’t you tell me your name, miss?” She tilted her head to the side, a half smile coming across her face. “Or should I guess?”
“If you want.” My feet began to shake.
She clapped her hands together in excitement, jumping up in her place. “Ooh,” she said. “Let me see. Annabelle - no, Adeline, no-”
I laughed. “It doesn’t even start with A,” I said, curling my toes. “And I hate my name, anyway. Call me Vio.”
She smiled again, her eyes twinkling. “Short for Violante? Or Viola?”
I shook my head. “Violette. Like the color. Or like Violent.” My toes were touching each other, the sand stuck between them. I closed my eyes, squeezing them shut as my feet leaned back onto each other.
“Vio, a-are you alright?” She rushed over to grab my shaking hand, balancing me back up on the sand. I scowled.
“Don’t touch me,” I murmured out. “Just leave me alone.”
She frowned, letting go of my hand. “Alright, Vio.” She bit her lip, walking back towards the sea. “I hope I see you again sometime. You’re a very interesting person.”
Slowly, she tiptoed back into the sea, her fragile body sinking into the ocean.
“You are, too,” I whispered, staring at my perfectly still hand. “You are, too, Genevieve.”
The second time I saw her was only a few weeks later. I was walking on the beach in the morning before anyone was up, picking up shells and scouting for sand dollars. Crimson hues lit up the sky, a blanket of blue below them. She was waiting for me by the shore, sitting down in the seagrass.
“Hello, Vio,” she said with a smile. “I was hoping I’d see you again.”
I blinked, but she was there still, smiling up at me. “Oh,” I said. “You again.”
She let out a chuckle, tilting her head back as she stood back up. “Oh, Vio,” she said. “What a you thing to say.”
I frowned. “What do you mean?”
She smiled. “Oh, only that you would say that. That’s all.” She reached to take my hand. “Come along, Vio. I want to show you something.”
I closed my eyes again, wondering if she would disappear.
She didn’t. Tentatively, I took her hand. Ever since our first meeting, my hand had stopped shaking when I didn’t want it to. Only at night, it continued to shake.
I wondered if it was her.
She smiled, grabbing my hand and running towards the ocean, her straw hat falling off her head in the wind. I ran carefully along with her, worried I’d trip. Still, I didn’t, as we bounded across the sea.
My feet darted over the water, dancing across the waves. “Genevieve,” I said, saying her name out loud for the first time. “Genevieve, how are you doing this?”
She turned towards me, and for the first time, I saw her frown. “Vio,” she started. “Vio, I can’t explain…”
Suddenly, I realized that we had stopped running. The waves coursed through my body, the water running through my lungs.
I couldn’t say her name.
And suddenly, I was sinking, sinking deep into the water, her face the last thing I saw before I woke up.
“Violette! Oh, Violette, thank the gods!”
My eyes blinked open, my mother’s face fading back into color. Her long hair, just a shade lighter than mine draped over my head, balanced on the center of my pillow. I was in my room, I realized. They had brought me back.
I shook my head, leaning upwards. “Maman… Maman, where’s Genevieve?”
She frowned, pushing me back down onto the bed, “No, Violette. You rest. You must have just had a bad dream.”
“W-what happened?” I frowned, closing my eyes again. “What happened to me?”
She smiled. “You must have been spared by the ocean, Violette. We found you by the shore.”
“And Genevieve? Genevieve Odette Fernanda, what about her?”
She frowned again. “Oh, Vio. You must have had a bad dream. There’s no Genevieve in this town.”
The third time I saw her, I was convinced she wasn’t real. But there she was, as real as the day itself, like she said when we first met. She smiled up at me, twirling her hair in her fingers.
“Vio!” She said with a wide smile stretching across her face. “Vio, you’re back!”
I shook my head. “No.” I said. “Why did you spare me?”
She frowned, her curls bouncing in the wind. The sky was a hazy gray, clouds covering up the blues and oranges of the earlier sunrise. “I don’t know what you mean, Vio. I didn’t mean to hurt you, I just thought I could put you back where you belonged and all would be okay. I-”
I bit my lip, frowning again. “No, Genevieve, you can’t be the ocean. You can’t be a spirit. It was...so real…”
She nodded, reaching to take my hand again. “So real,” she whispered out with the wind. “So, so real.”
The wind pulled her away into the sky, my hand slowly losing its grip. I tightened my fingers around her palm, trying to pull her back. “Genevieve!” I shouted. “Genevieve, you can’t go!”
Slowly, she shook her head, and I saw her frown once more. It felt so unnatural, so wrong. She was perfect. Perfect people didn’t frown.
“You can do this, Vio. You can survive without me.” She murmured out the words, letting go of my hand, shaking again after all these months. “I trust you.”
I shook my head, closing my eyes, wincing away the pain, but by the time I opened them, she was gone.
I looked up at the sky, then continued my walk home.
Away from the sea.