The house by the sea

Written in response to: Set your story in a silent house by the sea.... view prompt


Fiction Friendship Contemporary

(tw talking about depression)

"How many times do I have to tell you that I don't want to go camping?"

"We're not going camping."

"You're right about that, because I'm not going."

I take a deep breath. I know that when I continue this conversation, he will launch his anti-camping campaign. It's not that I don't understand his campaign and why he hates camping. I used to go camping when I was younger, simply because of economic reasons. When I was able to afford hotel rooms, I never went camping again. Also, camping in Europe sounds a lot less adventurous than it is, apparently, in North America and Canada.

When I was camping back in the days, it was in a designated place nearby the woods with public toilets and showers. It had sinks where you could brush your teeth, do your dishes and wash your clothes. It wasn't uncommon that these three things happened at the same time at the same sink. There also was a small camping store where you could buy eggs and bread for twice the price as in the supermarket. 

These days, you can rent a luxurious tent with a comfortable king-sized bed, a small kitchen and, if you're lucky, fully functioning sanitary facilities. Glamping, we call it. I tried to explain the concept to him, but he dissed the concept even more. Very rightfully though. Like I said, I understand his objectives against camping. But what I had suggested wasn’t camping. I hand over my phone and show him the cabin again. 

“That’s not a tent.” I say.

“It’s still camping.” 

“For crying out loud, Kevin! It’s a house, by the sea!”



“It’s at a lake.” 

“The lake is big enough to be a sea.” I argued. As a European, the size of that lake was like a sea to me. 

“If you want to argue this isn’t camping, then I’ll argue this isn’t a sea.” 

“Really?” I tilt my head and look at him. I see the twinkles in his eyes and I know he is now just saying things to wind me up for his enjoyment. He was almost successful with it. He hands back my phone and I stare at the picture again. A nice little wooden house by the sea, excuse me, the lake. Clear blue skies, more pine trees than Bob Ross could ever paint. It looks incredibly peaceful.

“Come on, I’m doing this for you. You know you need some time out.” This was mean, but I knew it would hit a chord. He had worked hard the past year. He believed in his project and had to go through great lengths to get people onboard. The people he got onboard believed in it as well and also worked hard. But in the end, it had been his head on the line and his head alone. It paid off. After a slow start where people had raised an eyebrow and more, the project proved itself to be extremely successful and was nominated for several awards in its category. 

Successful it may be, he paid a heavy prize for it. I found him lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, on more than one occasion. And location for that matter. It took me some effort to get him back to reality every time. One time, I found him in his office sitting on the floor, softly banging his head against the wall. And how many times didn’t he wake up screaming in the middle of the night. His depression had a good time, so to speak. We, and he especially, not so much. It’s gotten a lot better. And now the project was up and running, he deserved some time away from it. 

“I’m still not going camping.” he says, quietly. 

“There’s a refrigerator, an oven, a pizza oven and a big grill. A modern bathroom and two toilets. The house even has an indoor jacuzzi. There’s a motorized boat we can use. We can go to the middle of the lake, turn off the engine and just drift under a cloudless sky.” 

“So now it’s a lake?” 


“Alright. We go. I’ll treat it as if it’s renting at Airbnb. Chilling in someone else’s house.” Which indeed it exactly was. 

“With all the luxury and more from your own apartment.” I shift closer to him and cuddle myself into his arms. “Without the noise and stress from the city. It’s just us. It’ll do you some good.”

“It’ll be good for you as well. The past months haven’t exactly been easy on you, either.” I just let out a content sigh. He’s right, of course. But it’s not about me. I want him to clear his head and recharge. I want his demons to take a hike. And I want some peace in our life indeed. 

I open my eyes and stare into darkness. I need a moment to remember where I am. That’s right. I’m in a house at the sea. Okay, it’s a lake. I’m far away from our apartment. I’m in bed, a huge bed. And next to me is Kevin, and he is tossing and turning. One of these dreams again. I turn around slowly, ready to wake him up. He jerks up and sits straight up in bed. I know this too well, unfortunately. I hear him breathing heavily. He mumbles something. 

“I’m here, it’s alright.” I say. 

He pulls the blanket off him, swings his legs out off bed and gets up. 

“Just let me.” he mumbles as he leaves the bedroom. I nod, knowing he won’t see that, and stare into the darkness. It is of course foolish to think that a few days out of the city would make him feel better. And still it came as a surprise to me. The past few days went by so peacefully, I almost forgot why we went here in the first place. But I let him, just like he asked me to. After 15 minutes or so, I get out of bed and try to find him. 

He sits on the floor of the porch, looking at the lake. He only wears his boxers and a t-shirt. The night is a bit chilly and I know he’s feeling cold quite easily. It worries me that he sits like that, and I get back inside to get a blanket. We spent the evening in front of the open fire place, wrapped inside the blanket I pick up from the couch and walk back outside with. I approach him slowly and quietly, not to startle him. I have no idea whether he is aware I’m here or not. 

Then I bend my knees and carefully place the blanket over his shoulders. No reaction. I sit next to him and stare at the lake as well. I like the cold air, it cools me off and calms me down. It’s perfectly quiet here. I can hear the wind blow softly through the trees. The water softly hitting the shore. I can hear him breath. It’s calm and regular. 

“It’s never going away.” His speaks softly, almost without emotion. 

“I know.” 

“So why bring me here?” 

“Because you needed a break. A vacation.”

“We could have flown to Jamaica instead, then.”

“Yeah, we could have.” I close my eyes. Please don’t start the anti camping campaign. He doesn’t. 

“It’s so quiet here. So, so incredibly quiet.” I open my eyes again and look at him. He hasn’t moved, still stares at the lake. “So quiet, it scares me. I can only hear the wind, I can only hear the water. I can hear the animals in the forest. How the plants closed their flowers for the night. I can hear the insects put their kids to bed. And what scares me the most, I can hear my soul. I know it screams a lot, but I hardly ever hear it. Because I’m so busy. Have you ever wondered why I’m always busy?” 

When we just met, I have wondered. I thought he just had a busy job. I quickly realized that it wasn’t just that. He was always on the lookout for new projects and if he couldn’t find them, he created them himself. And yet, he had time for me. He made the conscious decision, so he told me one time, to have that time. It was important to him. I made him feel calm, he said. And in return, he made me feel safe. We filled each other in, as the cliché goes. Made each other whole. We realized it was more than just friendship. I left everything behind and moved in with him. No regrets. We knew each other so incredibly well. So well, that I know that he wasn’t asking that question for me to answer. 

“I like being busy. I like what I do. I like how I managed to have time for you as well. Sometimes I wonder if it’s enough.”

“It is.” I assure him. 

“For you maybe. But is it for me? All this time we spent together that I have wasted on being depressed. Knowing that you would calm me down. I know that I can always, always count on you. You never let me down. And I’m taking that for granted. My depression is taking it for granted. I’ve never felt this peaceful in my life, and yet I wake up scared.”

“It’s never going away.”

“That’s why I never want you to go away, either.” 

“I’m not going anywhere.” 

“I want to go somewhere.”


“Yes, now.” He gets up and wraps the blanket around his shoulder. With the arm that sticks out of the blanket, he helps me up to my feet. “Aren’t you cold?” 

“Northern European blood.” I smile. 

On our bare feet, we walk hand in hand to the shore and the little scaffold where the boat was. Without saying a word we step onboard and he starts the engine. Gone is the silence, but we endure it. I’m sure the world around us will excuse us. Then he turns off the engine and tries to make room, so we can both lie down on our backs. He can no longer wrap himself entirely into the blanket as we lie down on it. I let him get close and wrap my arm around him. 

Quietly we drift and stare at the sky. The stars twinkle brightly. There are only a few clouds that color nicely in the night sky. The longer we lie down in silence, the more I feel him relax. It’s incredibly peaceful. 

“Thank you.” he says after an hour or so. 

“For what?” 

“Taking me camping.” I pinch him playfully. “Oww. But I deserved that. We should do this more often. Go to an incredibly quiet place. Just us and our thoughts. Mu demons. And just chill. I feel like my demons are chilling right now. I think they are thankful as well.” 

“I’m glad that I could please them.” 

“That would mean I have to take less projects.” 

“You would?” 

“Hmmm…” he sounds doubtful. “I should. I’m not sure if I can.”

“You could start doing your projects closer to home.” 

“Or take you with me. That’ll teach them.”


“My demons. They’re terrified of you.”

“They should be more terrified of your therapist.” He laughs. 

“I mean it. Travel more with me. I know, I always said that I need time by myself. But I want to show you more of the world. I also know that I’m asking a lot from you now. I know how much it means to you to have your job.” It’s a small job, but it’s my own personal income. I hate being depended on someone. “You may have to give it up. I could use a communicator though, someone who handles public affairs.”

“You want me to work for you?” I feel him nod. That was never the plan. If anything, we agreed that this would never happen. It would mean being depended on him, or his company, for my payment. It would also mean spending more time in his presence. And it’s in that presence where I feel safest. We lie in silence for a few minutes. A cloud drifts by. I feel like I’m on that cloud right now. Drifting, not knowing where I’m going. At least I know who is at my side. 

“If that means we get to go camping…”

“It means exactly that.” I feel his lips on my cheek. 

“Then I’ll accept, boss.” 

We stay in the boat until the sun comes up. So peaceful and quiet. It’s not just done him good, it’s been good for me as well. It may mean more hectic work, but in a safe environment. Some people may find it unhealthy. But we know better than that. Sometimes we need a quiet house at the sea to accept what you really need. 

November 11, 2021 12:08

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