I thought I was dreaming at first. Though I was hallucinating. Because seriously how could that happen? I must have been reading too many stories about the Greek gods. In Stories about greek gods, it was normal for people to rise out from the sea. Aphrodite rose from the sea covered in light blue silk and all the gods begged for her hand. That happened in stories. Not in real life. Not in my life.
But there she was literally rising from the sea.
I was sitting in a little alcove on the beach, a tiny little cave that took an unusual amount of effort to get to. An amount of effort that no one ever went there. Which was why I was there. Because no one else was. When it's a warm summer day the skies are pale blue, ice blue like glaciers when the clouds look like marshmallows and you want to reach your hand toward the sky and pull one down to take a bite. It's that day when ice cream shops get the best business and it's warm enough to escape to the waves but not too hot to sit on the beach with a breeze to cool you down. On those days are the days when the beach is completely crowded, people sit skin to skin. The smell of melted ice cream and sunscreen lingers everywhere. It's so busy at the beach no matter where you go, there will be people. Unless you take a five-minute hike and a five-minute climb and scale the edge of a rock side to find a little cavern of peace.
15 minutes of climbing and hiking is barely a price to pay for the sereness of the quiet knowing this is your little spot and no one could take it.
When I first saw the girl I was annoyed. Quite annoyed. This was my spot. I had found it. I had climbed here. Mine. No one else could have it. I wanted the girl to go away back to the sea. But then wonder pushed the annoyance away and I was filled with questions. How did the girl even get here? How did she know where this was? How did she not die? Why was she in the ocean in the first place? Who was this girl? And why had I never seen her before?
I was sitting in the cave, my beach blanket stretched out, I was laying on it daydreaming. Daydreaming about everything and yet nothing at all.
I heard a splash and I looked up. At the girl. The way she walked was what made me really think I was dreaming. She walked slowly and delicately and right onto the beach, right into the cave. My cave.
I swear she seriously looked like she had been made from the ocean. One of her eyes was an arctic blue pale and sparkly like ice. The other eye was a dark navy. Her eyes were like the two sides of an ocean calm, and angry. Her hair was brown but something about how the light shined on it made it look orange and pink. I didn't even know how that was possible. Didn't even know it was possible. It's like the ocean had made a gift, took its water, and fashioned her eyes, her hair was made from coral, different colors depending on the light. Her lips were pink like a starfish resting on the ocean floor. I didn't know what else to do but pinch myself. She couldn't be real. Oceans didn't just make beautiful girls and send them to shore and give them to unsuspecting people in caves. That's not how the world worked.
Her hair was wet and stretched to her lower back glowing in the sun. She wore a two-piece, both pieces were navy blue like her eye, the top was a strap top. It was as long as a tankini but had a little wave of fabric attached. Her bottoms were simple navy blue and short.
The fact that she was wearing man-made clothes made me rethink the whole ocean, created a girl, and made me think that maybe she was real.
She wrung her hair and then eventually her eyes found their way over to me. Her eyes lit up and she smiled. And at that moment I knew I was not annoyed at the girl, that face made it possible to be angry or annoyed at her. That face made me want to be her friend. “Hi!” She exclaimed.
“Hi?” I said casually because I still didn't actually know who this girl was. She could be an ax murderer for all I know. This could be how I met my end for all I knew, killed in a cave by a cute girl who rose from the sea. My remains would be thrown into the sea so the case could never be solved. I shivered at my runaway thoughts. But this girl didn't look like an ax murderer, she looked friendly.
“I didn't know someone else discovered starfish grotto.” She said
“Starfish who now?” I asked. Staring at the girl.
“Starfish grotto. The name of the cave.”
“You named the cave?”
“But there aren't any starfish..” I asked looking around.
“You haven't seen the starfish?!” She asked. But it wasn't in a mean way it was in a shocked disbelief I need to show you now sort of way.
“There are starfish…?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.
“Uh hu.” SHe replied, nodding enthusiastically.
“I've never seen them before.”
“I didn't see them for a while either until I slipped, fell into a tunnel, followed the tunnel, and found the starfish. It was quite a painful experience but at least I got some starfish!”
I was sort of confused. This was my cave. My cave. I had never seen anyone else in my cave either and now this girl is talking about it like she's been coming here for ages.
“I didn't know anyone else had ever been here. I thought this was my cave.” I said.
“So did I. Until I saw footprints.”
“Footprints?” I asked.
“Yeah, they were in the cave, this cave. And led right up to where your beach towel is now. The footprints led up and then back the way it came. It puzzled me. Why would someone just walk into the middle of this beautiful majestic cave stand there and then just walk back? I mean of course, now I realize the footprints were yours. And you laid a blanket down, you didn't just stand there and do nothing.”
“How come I've never seen you before?” I asked.
“I don't know that's what I've always wondered. When I first started seeing those footprints like what a couple months ago I wondered hmmm who could that be? I started coming earlier and earlier trying to catch a glimpse of this mysterious person who has found this cave. But I never did. Until now.”
She smiled at me and my heart fluttered.
“I always come here from ten to two.”
“That would make sense. I come from 3-6. Three at the earliest.”
“How come I never see your footprints?”
“The tide washes them away.”
“Ohh okay that would make sense,” I replied. “But I have a question. How come I've never seen you before.” I asked, "Just like in general."
“I moved here in June.”
“Which is right after school ends.”
“Yep. I've probably only been going to this cave for about as long as you have maybe a week longer.”
“How did you even find the cave?” I asked.
“I was swimming and I stumbled across it.”
“Which is why you came from the ocean. Sorry yeah, that's obvious I'm just trying to fit the pieces all together in my head.”
“How did you get here. Your not wet so you couldn't have come from the ocean your footprints lead to the edge of the cave where it's steep but you didn't climb that did you?” She looked at my face. “You climbed it didn't you.”
“I did. The first time I came here it was on accident, well sort of on accident I was looking for somewhere to sit somewhere not crowded and well I ended up here.”
“Do you mind if I sit down?’ She asked.
I didn't know what else to say so I nodded. She sat down on the ground a couple feet away from me.
“Where did you move from?” I asked.
“Wow, that's far away from Honolulu.”
“What made you move here?” I asked.
“Fresh start. Somewhere new.” I nodded not wanting to poke and prod.
“How are you such a good swimmer?”
“I surfed in LA.”
“Yep, I figured that right after I asked.”
We sat in silence for a couple minutes until she looked at me.
“Do you want to come see the starfish?” She asked.
I must have looked fairly concerned because she said. “It's okay if you don't want to. You don't know me and I'm asking you to follow me in a dark cave to look at starfish. SORT of raises a red flag. I can go if you want if I'm making you uncomfortable.”
“Oh no, It's fine. I would like to see the starfish.”
“Great!” She smiled broadly and stuck out her hand. “I'm Bayou.”
“Nice to meet you, Avalon. Now let's go meet some starfish!” She exclaimed.
I wished I could be more like Bayou, more energetic, less shy, happier, and less annoyed. Maybe she would rub off on me.
“Okay, so they're this way.” The cave was mainly a large open area where I lay down and daydreamed but near the back, there was a tiny passageway. I had explored it but it always ended in a dead-end. Bayou walked towards the back of the cave and through the tunnel. I slipped a couple of times on the wet rocks but managed to stay upright, mostly.
“Okay now where was it.?” Bayou asked.
She had stopped abruptly right before the dead end and was now running her hands along the walls.
“Aha!” here we go. It's dark and slippery so I think it would be easier if you held my hand so you don't slip. I know where to avoid and not to step so it might make things easier. You don't have to though.”
I don't even know what I was thinking. I was holding hands with a girl I just met while walking through a dark cave to look at starfish. But here I was.
Our fingers entwined and Bayou walked cautiously through the tunnel we walked for a couple of minutes and I only slipped once.
“Okay watch your step.” Bayou let go of my hand and walked slowly down the hill of rocks. We emerged into another cavern but this one was full of tide pools. Tide pools full of anemones, sand, water, tiny fish, and starfish.
“WOww I exclaimed walking around the cave taking in the sight. "They're pretty aren't they?”
“Yeah,” I replied.
At the front of the tunnel was a tiny gap in the rock straight up a chasm, it was thin, large enough so that water could come in and fill the tide pools but so thin that a human couldn't fit.
“I've tried by the way.” Glancing to where I was looking. “Tried to get out that way.”
I looked at her she seemed like the person who would do that. Looked like the person who would stumble across tide pools full of starfish.
"I've looked around this cve a million times felt all the walls and tried to squeeze myself out through thier, that chasm. but the tunnel we came in from is the only way in or out. Im assuming that's why probably no one else has ever found this. Because the main cave, we came from is hard enough to find but this is even harder. I dont know, it's just nice knowing something your little secret knowing you're the only one who knows about it." she looked over at me. "Well me and a friend." I didn't think we were friends. I mean we could be but we had known each other for less than an hour. We were more like acquaintances but the thought was nice. Bayou walked towards the back. "Theres a good spot to sit over here." She gestured. I walked over to her and stretched out on the sand.
“So where do you live?” I asked. “Wait sorry that came out wrong.”
She laughed. “Its fine I just live up the hill form here, by the school.”
“Have you seen the school yet?”
“I've walked around it a couple of times.”
“So you havent met any teachers yet?” I asked.
“I have actually she was walking out of the building and she stopped to talk to me.”
“Who was it? I mean most of the teachers are nice unless it was Mrs. Gr-”
“You know her?? How, what happened how are you still alive?” I asked.
She laughed. “Well Mrs. Grahm was walking out of the building and I was leaning up agian a tree basking in the shade. And she came up to me and was like. “No loitering missy.””
“Wait seriously?” I asked.
“Yeah she did and then she was like. “Im going to have to ask you to get off the property.” And I was like. “I'm sorry ma'am I didn't know thier were rules about when to be at the school.” and then she was like “YOU DONT TALK TO TEACHERS LIKE THAT!” by then we were both laughing.
“That totally soudns like Mrs. Grahm.” I said.
“Oh but that's not all. So then I was like “sorry.” and she was like you better go before I call the police.”
“Wait really?” I asked. "She actually threatened to call the police?”
“She did.” So I ran as far away from her as possible.
“Wow. You better hope you dont get her or she’ll make your life misrable.” I said.
“I know right,”
Bayou and I talked, talked about music, and movies, friends and enemies, and everything in between. And evantually we just lay on the beach enjoying each other's company. The breeze was nice and the sand was so soft so evantually I drifted off.
I was awakened by the sound of crickets. I blinked my eyes open and say nothing. It was dark.
But it was just light out?
Dang it, I must have fallen asleep. My mom will be fuming.
I could barly see anything. I fumbled with my bag to find my hone. I found it and turned it on. I had 72 unread emails. My mom was freaking out. She was going to clobber me when I came home. WHere are you she asked. I did the only thing I could think of "I'm sleeping over at a friend's I'm so sorry I forget to tell you. She was still probably going to ground me for life. But less than if I said I fell asleep in a cave.
I shook Bayou awake
"It's night," I told her
She blinked and looked around. "Yeah, I sort of assumed that."
"Do you mind moving the flashlight?" She asked. I realized I was pointing my flashlight right in her eyes. "Yeah sorry. Why aren't you freaking out won't your parents be worried?"
"Not really they'll probably think I'm sleeping in my treehouse. that's what I normally do. Got to the beach for a while and then sleep in my tree house. So as long as I make it back before dawn I'll be alright."
I didn't really want to ask this of her since we had just met but I really had no other choice.
"Do you mind if I sleepover? Sort of told my mom I was sleeping over with friends." I fidgeted nervously with my hands.
"Sure! I always have enough room for two."
"Thanks." I gushed. "But we should probably get out of here," I suggested.
This time I led the way out since I was the one with the flashlight. Back through the tiny tunnel into the big tunnel and then back into the main cave.
"I can't tell you how grateful I am."
"It's fine no problem." SHe smiled.
We walked out onto the wet sand.
"Do you want to star gaze she asked?"
"Sure." I mean how much damage could it do? And besides summer was all about having new adventures and was stargazing with a girl you had just met way past your bedtime, not an adventure?
I laid down next to her and looked up at the bright lights in the sky, the ocean waves in the background, and a new friend at my side.