Water was traveling up the shore, slowly but surely. It was near noon and high tide would soon drown her rolled up jeans. She thought she was like her jeans. You can only protect yourself so much before you meet your inevitable doom; just like how you could only fold your pants up to an extent. For she knew her best friend, Harper, would be leaving her. She was told she would be moving at some point. No date, no warning, no way to prepare for her departure; and yet somehow that was the embodiment of Harper: being as unpredictable as humanly possible.
Again, being pulled into the cycle of thoughts, she turned away from the ocean for once. It’d been as comforting as it was frustrating. They shared the sea with one another, revealing its secrets and using its salty waters as a fort, or base, even, for their friendship. Somehow, after all these months of her being gone, it still brought her these kinds of days where she needed to stand in front of the ocean and think about how wrong things had become. Usually, on days like this, she’d be screaming too. The beach was barren in the fall, for the most part, but that day she was accompanied by a boy.
Never in her wildest dreams would she have invited him there, to her safe space, her sanctuary, their home. She only assumed that he wanted to be alone with the sea, as well, and was being too polite to leave. He was, of course, familiar from school, as there weren’t very many students that attended her school. Most went to the Christian school across town. He was a grade above her. She knew his first name was Wiley and his last name started with an H. His mother came to the school quite often for his younger brother who often got himself into trouble. Wiley had unruly brown curls that had a mind of their own and square-ish, gray glasses that he was constantly fidgeting with. She also knew he was quite smart and was taking AP math and English courses in only his freshman year.
Wiley sat far from the water on a batch of rocks. She could feel his eyes on her but didn’t dare look back at risk of accidentally engaging conversation. She wasn’t ready for a new friend. She wasn’t ready to share the ocean with someone else. Or maybe she was ready and she was just too afraid to get left behind again.
Unlike what she perceived was correct, however, her lips began to shape words. She needed someone. It was so long since she talked to someone her one age. It’s been even longer since she enjoyed a conversation she had. Maybe meeting at the place that held the love and memories of Harper would hold new memories; not ones that replaced the old or were better than the rest; just new memories. Before she could change her mind, she whipped herself around to face him, her hair flew into her face and her jeans were splashed with water but she didn’t care.
“Hello,” she said, stepping toward his curious gaze.
“Hi,” he replied in a low whisper. “Your name is Ophelia.” It was more of a statement than a question.
“That it is,” she answered, her lips tugging upward at the fact that he knew her name. “And your name is Wiley.”
A grin appeared quickly that matched Ophelia’s. “You are correct, my friend.”
They stood smiling for a moment; a sacred life-changing moment that started something that would be her new beginning. Ophelia fished around in her front pocket before pulling out a bag of chocolate rocks. Harper hated them with a passion but Ophelia loved them more than any other candies. She shook the bag slightly in his direction and watched as his smile grew wider.
“Thank God that you’re a fan of milk chocolate,” I laugh and then proceed to give him a handful.
His eyes flash with gratefulness and relief as I pass him the chocolate, and I’m glad because it's the first time I feel that maybe after I’m not the only lost one in the world.