The gulls cry. The waves and the winds of mid-July rinse the sand as I lie on the beach stretching my fingers, reaching and touching white foam. It recoils just as my fingertips graze it. Back into the ocean. The gulls cry and the lighthouse flashes, calling home. The sky is empty yet filled with everything. The salt and the sand polish stones as smooth as my memory of the touch of her cheeks.
Wave upon wave upon the ship. Rain. Everyone leaned right and the first catastrophe was avoided. The salt stayed in Winona’s mouth and she coughed, but there wasn’t time. I shoved her and she fell over. Candice yelled as I dragged Winona’s body to the left. Waves crashed down. We were under water. I couldn’t scream. She couldn’t scream. I held her still. The surface moved as we made our way up. My chest burned and I had to get air. Water forced itself in through my nose and mouth. Air! Winona coughed heavily. We were in between currents and the next one came. I hugged her as it dragged us down; below any reasonable chance of survival. I lost her.
Swimming in forces strong enough to sink a ship is impossible. I was lucky. Candice floated on wreckage and Winona cried for help. I swam out. The waves had not subsided but they gave me Winona. She wasn’t breathing. I tried to keep her head above water. Nothing else could be done. The rain wouldn’t stop and waves pulled us under. I lost her again. She didn’t hold on and I wasn’t strong enough. I took a deep breath and as I did I swallowed a lot of water. I started coughing and soon after I was under. Darkness. My lungs filled with water. I was close to suffocation but Candice dragged me up and laid me on the side. I kept coughing. She screamed.
We were floating safely. Minutes had past. Candice wouldn’t give up. Me neither. She swam into the storm. Into the storm! I yelled for her, for them, and swam after. I couldn’t swim under water, I was still coughing. I had to turn back. Winona screamed. She was sitting in a lifeboat. I chose to make my way to her.
Even in the night the gulls cry. The empty sky is without hope. Never has there been a heaven for Candice and me. Winona believes. The sky is full. Every dream she has is of a meeting with her mother and every nightmare I have is of Candice, going under water to save our Winona after saving me.
Sometimes Winona lies here with me. We both reach out. If we stay in this position the waves will always retreat, threatened to be where they don’t belong. Just touching our fingertips. And sometimes I also believe. The gentle touch of Candice. This is where I am.
Winona hugs me. Her cheeks remind me of Candice and we look up. She looks for heaven but all I see is the night sky and the stars flashing, calling home.