Please note that Part 1 of this story has been published and therefore does not appear on this site.
She could hear the noises in the background, but they were neither strong enough nor important enough to invade her thoughts. Her mind was troubled and the beach had always been her refuge when she needed to get away and think. There was something about the relentless monotony of the waves that soothed her. She was vaguely aware of the muffled footsteps as a laughing couple passed by. They didn’t bother her and she didn’t turn to look, although her lips did curl into a slight smile. They sounded as though they were in love. The thought was a sobering one. She had been thinking about love a lot lately, ever since that letter had washed up at her feet so many months before.
The woman had taken hold of her thoughts and refused to let go. She had needed to know that she was real. She had needed to see living, breathing proof. It had become something of an obsession and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to move on until she gave in to it. So she had. She called in favors and she managed to do what she first thought was an impossible task. She found her, not halfway across the world, but just a few states away. Getting there had been easy. Bumping into her had been easier still. But getting up the courage to speak to her had proven to be one of the most difficult things she had ever attempted.
What was she supposed to say? That she’d done her best to track down a stranger because of a letter she’d most likely written years before and undoubtedly forgotten? The idea had made sense before but, now that she was here, she didn’t know what she had been thinking. Or what she was still thinking, for Sienna Mallory continued to fascinate her. She hadn’t deluded herself into thinking there was anything romantic in her interest. She simply wanted to know this woman who seemed so different from the cynics she had been around all her life.
She had been lucky enough to find a quaint little beachfront bistro, and it seemed that she wasn’t the only one attracted by its charms. Sienna had showed up every day, either walking in with or meeting an attractive brunette. They had seemed happy together and she had been happy for them. It was a validation for her. Love did exist after all, but it wasn’t without its challenges, for one day Sienna had come in with someone else. There had been such sadness in her eyes.
She didn’t know what had happened but she had conspired to move closer, hoping to overhear some snippet of conversation. The words ‘drifted apart’ and ‘too much work’ floated to her. From what she’d been able to gather, the other woman had an opportunity in another town and wanted to concentrate on her career. It was tearing them apart. Her heart had ached. Couldn’t she see what she had? What could be worth more than that?
Somehow she had to make her see. A letter? It seemed apt. It was a letter that had started this journey. Maybe that was why she was here. Maybe she could be the one to fix it. She had done what she did best…she wrote. She had poured her heart out and it had bled black ink.
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. Not really. I don’t know if you love your job. I don’t know if you want to have kids someday. I don’t know what you like doing on your days off. But what I do know is that you’re on the verge of making the biggest mistake of your life. Maybe it’s none of my business but, against my better judgment, this is something I must do. Do you like stories? I hope you do because I’m going to tell one. It’s a love story of sorts, but I won’t give away the ending just yet.
I’m a writer now, but I wasn’t always. I had big dreams when I was younger. I wanted to change the world. I thought I could do it through my words, but I was never confident enough in my abilities to trust my future to them. So I did the expected thing. I earned my college degree, I got a job that bored me to death but paid well enough, and I went through my daily routine feeling like something was missing. I even tried moving to a new apartment, hoping that would help, and that’s when I met her.
It wasn’t love at first sight. I thought she was beautiful but brash and full of herself. She thought I was the most opinionated bastard she’d ever met. Unfortunately we lived across the hall and could help bumping into each other. Eventually open antagonism turned into tolerance, and that blossomed into something else, although I was certain it was one-sided. We spent a lot of time together, having discovered we had the same taste in movies. It wasn’t uncommon that one of us would fall asleep on the other’s couch. More than one friend had remarked that we were more or less a couple, just without the sex.
That dance may have gone on forever if not for that one perfect day. It was Friday night and we had both knocked out on the sofa. At some point she had leaned against me and when I woke up, her head was buried in my neck. I could feel her breath on my skin and my heart quickened. I must have moved because she stirred and I thought I saw something flicker in her eyes. In an instant it was gone, almost as though I had imagined it. I believed that I had. She left in a hurry and I convinced myself that she just wanted to sleep in the comfort of her own bed.
I wasn’t expecting to see her the next day. As it turned out, her plans fell through and she invited me to lunch. We had a beautiful evening together, walking in the park, taking in the sunset, and just talking. I said goodbye to her at her front door but I knew something was different. She kissed me for the first time that night and I knew that my heart would belong to her alone from that moment on.
We were so good together. She always said that she would die before she would ever hurt me. I believed her. I believed in our future when fate conspired to find us our own place close to the beach we both loved so much. I believed in our future when we made love for the first time in our own home. And then everything came crashing down and I stopped believing.
I was a fool. I knew she was driven and her ambition was one of the things that drew me to her. I loved hearing her talk about her work. I didn’t understand half of it, but the passion in her eyes was worth it. So I thought nothing of it when she started working late at the office. I was proud of her, but I missed her too, especially since my schedule was so much more flexible than hers. So I decided to surprise her one day. I told her that I’d be busy with publisher meetings so she wouldn’t suspect anything was up. Instead I planned the most romantic dinner I could think of for her. But the surprise was to be mine.
I hope that you have never experienced anything like this. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy. Imagine coming home to the house you share with the woman you love more than anything else, and finding her in the arms of another. Imagine the smell of sex and the looks of startled shame. Imagine your heart turning into glass and shattering right at your feet. Nothing could make that right. No amount of explanations or apologies could make those images go away.
Why am I boring you with this? I’m sure you imagine you have better things to do, but the best thing you can do is keep reading. I lost all hope that day. Love had betrayed me in the worst way, and I felt that I had nothing left to live for. The ocean had always been my friend. Perhaps it would be once more, and take this pain away from me for good. But something stopped me: the very woman that you walked out on yesterday.
No, I’ve never met her, and hopefully you will keep this letter a secret. Maybe one day she’ll know what she did for me, but I’d rather that decision be mine. So how did she change my life? By writing a letter, much like this one, and casting it out into the sea. It found me. Her words brought hope back into my heart for she spoke of her own struggles with love and her own determination to never lose her faith, or her belief that love still existed somewhere out there.
As I’ve said before, I don’t know you, but I feel as though I know her. I don’t know if you’re it for her. I don’t know if you deserve her. I do know that she loves you with all her heart. You only need to look into her eyes to know that. She is a remarkable woman, as I’m sure you know, capable of a depth of feeling that is all too rare. To be loved by someone like that is an honor and a privilege. Don’t throw it away. You have nothing to fear from me. I simply wished to meet the woman who saved my life, and perhaps thank her, but I lost my nerve. But I can at least do this for her. Don’t let what I’m sure is the best thing in your life get away from you. You will regret it one day, and there’ll be nothing you can do to change things. She needs you and you need her, even if you don’t know how much as yet. Read this. Read it again if you have to. And when you’re done…act!
She had gone to the bistro the next day, butterflies fluttering in her stomach, and waited to see Sienna walk in. When she did, she had been alone and her heart had sunk. She had failed. She had seen no point to staying and had been trying to get the waitress’ attention when movement at the corner of her eyes had made her turn. The other woman had come in, a single rose in hand, and she’d had to keep herself from laughing out loud when she had seen her face light up. She had known in that moment that her words had gotten through and everything would be alright.
Then Sienna had gotten up, as if to leave, and she had tensed for a moment until she realized that it was nothing more than a bathroom break. The waitress had finally come over and she had paid her bill, figuring that there was nothing more here for her now. She had been walking out when she was surprised by a hand on her arm, stopping her motion. She had looked down into the eyes of the other woman who had simply murmured her thanks before releasing her. She could do nothing more than nod before moving on.
She looked after the couple who had passed, now just a faint silhouette in the distance, and wished them well. She stared out across the ocean once more, wishing she could stay, but it was time to go home. She had her own ocean and she had been away too long. She got up, wincing as a muscle in her leg protested the resumption of activity. She spared a thought for Sienna as she dusted sand grains from her jean and smiled. She supposed that, in the world of fantasy, they would have met, fallen in love and lived happily ever after. Hell, that’s the way she would have written it herself. But this was the real world, and she wasn’t interested in fantasies.
For her, it was enough that someone like Sienna existed; that someone blessed her with that look in their eyes. For her, it meant that all things were possible. Love was possible, and that was worth more than she could say. Perhaps one day she would have the courage to introduce herself. Perhaps not. It didn’t matter. She had repaid the debt that she alone knew she owed. She understood now with all certainty that the one who would make her heart sing again was out there. There was a bounce in her step as she walked back to the hotel. It was time. It was time to take a chance again. It was time to find her.