“Waiting” – A Short Story by Yvonne De Villiers

“It’s across the sea. But you can’t fly there or take a boat. Oh no, to get there you need to dream.”

That was the first thing you ever said to me. We were sitting on this very beach; you’d spotted me by myself and came and sat beside me; and I remember looking at you; and I don’t know what I noticed first. Maybe it was your eyes, a stormy blue like the ocean on an overcast day, or your wild blonde hair that twisted and danced in the breeze; whatever it was, I was instantly transfixed.

When I didn’t reply, you looked at me, a teasing glint in your eyes as you watched me intently.
“You know where I’m talking about?” I shook my head slowly, pushing some of my dark hair out of my face. A slight smile tugged at your lips as I looked at you expectantly.
“Oh, I’m not gonna tell you. You’ll find it eventually, it just takes time.”

And that was our first conversation, no greeting or exchanging names, I didn’t even speak once, but at that point, I knew there was something different about you; a spark, a smouldering ember that burned brighter every day. I didn’t know what it was, I still don’t and I probably never will.

It went on for years, everyday I would sit by the beach, and everyday you would sit next to me and ask me if I’d found it. And everyday I’d shake my head, I didn’t know what you meant then, I was young and innocent and carefree. You would continue to tell me the same thing:
“You’ll find it eventually. It just takes time.”

And then I had to go, the thought of being away hurt, but you just smiled.
“I’ll be here waiting when you get back, I’m not going anywhere.” And if I’d been more experienced, if I’d really looked at you like I used to, I would have seen it in your eyes. But you’d become so good at it. Hiding the pain and the fear that ate away at you whilst that monster inside of you grew stronger. I wish I’d known then that that would be goodbye, but I didn’t, and that hurts more than the pain that claws at me every day.

I’ve found it. You were right, the only way to get there is to dream. How else do you escape this hell? You were strong, stronger than anyone I’ve ever known, you smiled when inside you were dying. I hope you’re happy up there and that you’ve escaped the pain. But I also hope you’re still waiting for me.

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