The Challenge: 1000 words in 10 chapters, courtesy of Awesome Author/Blogger Chuck Wendig. Check it out HERE.
I stand barefoot on the beach at the edge of the water, about a mile away from where she is, where I’m not supposed to be. Anxious, I pace in circles under the hot sun, watching my footprints in the sand wash away with the tide as I do my laps. Walk into the water, walk out of the water, “swoosh” go the footprints. In the water, out of the water, “swoosh” go the footprints.
I have to make up my mind soon if I want to give myself a chance. What should I do? What should I do? “Swoosh” go the footprints.
I think about the moment I met her. She was on line in front of me at the supermarket, and must have felt me watching because she looked back and smiled.
“Sorry,” she said. I’m not sure why. At the time, I just shrugged. Once her groceries passed over the scanner and she was told the total, she rummaged through her purse and came up short ten dollars.
“Crap,” she said. She ran her hands through her long red hair and looked up at the ceiling. Something about her desperation spoke to me, so I took out my wallet and handed the cashier a ten dollar bill.
“No, I couldn’t,” she said to me.
“I insist,” I said. “It’s not a problem.” She looked skeptical. “My ice cream’s melting.”
I smiled and she smiled back. That’s how it started.
I stop making circles in the sand and face the Atlantic, then take a giant step to my left, towards where I know her to be. She’s pulling me to her.
I remember the first time I told her I loved her. We were on the couch together watching a movie. She said it back.
She said it back. I take another giant step to my left, my toes digging into the sand.
She said it back. A hundred times, at least. In bed. On the phone. In the car. In the park. She said it everywhere. I didn’t dream it.
I walk towards her, along the water line. The waves push me as they crash over my ankles.
Did she forget? Did she forget how it felt to kiss goodnight and wake up together in the morning? Did she forget what I said to her while we danced at her brother’s wedding?
She wore a green bridesmaid dress that showed off her hair and made her white skin glow like shiny porcelain. “I love you, Meredith. Forever,” I said. “Someday, I want us to get married. Will you marry me?”
“Are you proposing to me?” she asked. “For real?”
“I’m proposing that I’m going to propose to you,” I said.
Meredith giggled. “Well then I propose that I will answer when you propose,” she teased. Then she kissed me, and I squeezed her tightly.
Did she forget how happy we were? How did I let her get away? I jog towards her, the water splashing with each stride. Can I get to her in time? I know I have to try.
I didn’t believe her when she said she had met someone else. How could she when we spent almost every waking moment together? How could she be interested in anyone else when we were so perfect together?
“I’m sorry,” she’d said.
“Don’t you love me anymore?” I’d asked.
“It’s not about love,” she’d said.
She’s wrong, I know, as I jog down the beach. It is about love. It is about love. Each stride takes a different word. It. Is. About. Love. I break into a run.
The ocean breeze blows the hair off my face and my lungs start to hurt. Faster and faster the words match my pace as images of her flood my mind. It. Is. About. Love. It. Is. About. Love. ITISABOUTLOVE. ITISABOUTLOVE.
I think I’m too late, but when I finally reach the private beach, the white chairs still empty, the flower-covered trellis unattended, I realize that I made it. I hurdle the fence and quickly walk around the perimeter to building attached to the long, white aisle. My heart is pumping—not from the exertion of running, but from anticipation. Avoiding eye contact, I open the door.
Meredith looks beautiful on her wedding day as she stands before me, dressed in white, holding her bouquet. For the second that passes before she looks up, she looks peaceful. The flower in her hair is a nice touch. She makes a lovely bride, like I knew she would.
When she notices me, her face changes. “What are you doing here?”
“I couldn’t stay away,” I say.
“You can’t be here. Please leave,” she says sternly. She looks around the room but she’s alone, like I want her to be.
“You look amazing. Perfect.”
“Go away,” she says. “I’ll scream.”
“No baby, don’t scream,” I say, holding up my hands. “I just want to talk.”
For some reason this angers her. Her face turns beet red and she charges me, pushing my chest with her hands. Her citrusy scent overwhelms me. Intoxicates me. “Go away. I don’t want you. Can’t you get that through your thick skull?” Meredith screams.
I sigh. She’s so spirited.
Meredith turns her back to me and starts to walk away. I can’t let her leave again. I need to tell her how much I love her and want her. I can’t let her marry that other guy on the beach today. “Meredith,” I call after her.
She keeps moving, so I pull the gun from my waistband. It is about love.
Meredith doesn’t turn around until she hears me cock the trigger.
I don’t have a choice, really. “I’m sorry to have to resort to this,” I say. “But it is about love.”
Then everything goes dark.