Alvenika’s beaches were a sight to behold. Flowing white sand, pushed along by a gentle, whistling wind, down a coastline littered with brown-black, cascading boulders. He would marvel at the way the water glided over the rocks, making them appear smooth and glassy. It seemed they would have been molded over lifetimes into this better form.
There were days he’d felt like he could relate to this. He’d taken his fair share of shoe-less strolls by the water after a long day’s work. There was a pride in being a productive employee and he knew what happiness was–at least, he thought he did. His god, The Enigma, had been good to him and he always prayed to It in faithful gratitude for his circumstances. Other nights though, he’d start to wonder if there was more he could be doing. Like maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough to reach his potential.
On those occasions he’d still be by the ocean, only there wouldn’t be sand beneath his bare feet. Instead, he’d be hunched over a glass of scotch at a popular outdoor bar he frequented in the warmer months. Just needing to get a little something to repress the over-sized thoughts, he’d watch the sunset paint the waves a crisp orange. This image and the stars to follow had been his solace time and time again, until one night, he saw her . . .
From across the street he spotted her with a friend, hoping this bar would be their destination. With her wavy, red-brown hair and corset-hugged hourglass figure, he was struck by her electric vibrance. Both a graciousness and swagger in her step suggested confidence, but also gratitude for the attention she must’ve known she was receiving. This was the picture of class.
Fortune favored him as her path did take her to the bar. As she strode in with a turn of her head, she caught him staring.
Great first impression, creep.
He looked away fast and only then realized how big he had been smiling too. Peeking back up ever-so-slightly, he saw her giggle and look down.
She giggling with me? At me? Is there someone behind me . . ? Nope.
The moment warmed him despite any worry or embarrassment. It transported him to another world, free of the stresses of the day. This was one with possibilities he couldn’t fathom, enough to make the magnificence of the beach and sunset invisible. The strange thing about it though, was it felt familiar. While at the same time he was aware he’d never seen this woman before, something inside him knew her as if the fiber of her being was etched into his bones.
He decided it was safe to look again, so he did. The only seconds his gaze could spare otherwise were given to the other patrons, simply to ensure by their reactions this angel he beheld was real. Previous chatter was quieted as she made her way to a high table beside the sand.
She’s real alright.
When her friend and her arrived, a well-dressed gentleman at a table beside her jumped up to pull their seats out for them.
They said their thank-yous and the gentleman did his best to start conversation. The friend happily obliged, but not her. No, as the friend spoke, her eyes drifted off before locking with his for a second time. His heart skipped a beat and lungs could collapse, but he held the look despite them and smiled. Again, she smiled back.
Get your ass up and go say hello, you fool. This isn’t like anything else you’ve let slip. This is on a whole other level. You worry about your full potential? She’s it, buddy.
Sipping and looking down at his near-finished, first drink, the doubt started to creep in as it always did. At twenty-six he was aware he probably had the looks. He was aware of all the reasons why he should be confident. Yet, all he thought about was what could go wrong. All the things he might say to ruin it raced around in his head. The pain of those outcomes would only dash his confidence further.
Plus, look at her. She’s perfect. Who the hell am I to think I deserve her time?
The debate raged on inside him for some time and after being poured his fourth glass of scotch he looked up at the clock to notice an hour-and-a-half had gone by.
Shit, man, how could you do–
Her friend and her stood up and straightened themselves out. They would be leaving, and he would never stop hating himself for it. This was going to be his greatest failure.
As they hugged, it sunk in. But when they released each other, she didn’t follow her friend back to town. Instead, she continued onto the sand alone, walking toward the fiery evening sky. Her silhouette darkened as she went and again, the scene remained small compared to her.
You see that? What wouldn’t you do for that? To what lengths wouldn’t you go to ensure you never lose this moment?
There was no way he could let her vanish into the night. With a look at the gentleman from before, who for now remained in his seat and was watching her too, he stood up and took a breath. His glass of scotch remained full, but he didn’t care. Tonight he’d leave it that way.
Marching away from the bar and toward her, he could start to make out her features again through the shadows. Where before he’d dread this moment, now he couldn’t get to her quick enough. She’d stopped in a place where the water would creep up over feet and recede back out to the ocean. As he came up beside her, he was lost in the sight of her face, lit by the sky’s amber glow.
“Took you long enough,” she said, not looking his way behind her.
“I’m sorry about that, miss. But don’t the best things only come with time?”
Now beside her, they chuckled together.
See? What was all that worrying about?
“Have we . . ? Why do I feel like we’ve met before?” she asked.
“You know, I had a similar thought at first. What I realized though?” He shook his head. “I realized it just doesn’t really matter.”
As the oranges before them faded to purples and a cool sea breeze sent a chill over his neck, he felt more free and alive now than he ever had.
She turned to him with furrowed brows. “And how’s that?”
“Because,” he said as he smiled her way, “whatever happened in the past, it happened. But the most important thing in my world has to be that I’m here meeting you now.”
“Well then.” She shifted her weight toward him merrily and extended a hand. “It is my great pleasure to make your acquaintance, sir. My name’s Judith Abigale.”
Judith. William melted.
He reached out a gentle hand and bowed his head with a smile, keeping his eyes straight on hers. “The pleasure is all mine, Judith. And I’m William. William Keagan.”
Like he told her, whatever happened before, had happened. But William realized going forward he could only carry on, thankful he had found Judith that day, on the beaches of Alvenika.
QOTD: Did you ever have something/someone strike you in this way? Ever had to overcome lack of confidence? What did doing so mean to you? Tell me about it below 🙂 Also, if you want more from these two, follow their story in the Civilands series! If you already are following, keep on to find out what this all means…
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Copyright (c) 2017 by N.B. Austin
Published in the U.S. by Moore Bell Productions, Austin.
All Rights Reserved.