Jane pulled her knees up and settled next to Brandon on the couch. The only sound in the house was the muffled movement of the ocean outside. The light Jane had flipped on when they came back in the house glared across the room, adding an unnatural feeling to an already strange evening. They were both heavy with their own thoughts, finding comfort in their bodies touching and Brandon’s hand sliding up and down Jane’s back.
The knock on the front door made them both jump, a soft scream erupting from Jane’s mouth. They looked at each other, the fear in Jane’s hazel eyes reflected in Brandon’s icy blue ones.
“Who the hell is that?” Jane’s voice quivered.
“I have no idea,” Brandon said as he stood up. “Stay here, Babe. I’ll go check it out.”
Jane watched Brandon walk out of the room, down the hall, and to the right completely out of view. Her palms started sweating and she felt a sick feeling in her stomach. When she heard the door creak open, she stood up quickly, looking around for something to use as a weapon. When she turned back to the hallway, Brandon was slowly walking back into the room, Walter trailing behind him.
“Walter? What the hell?” Jane looked from him to the glass door that led onto the deck. “Where’s Jen?”
Looking back, she watched Walter shrug as he walked into the kitchen and opened up the fridge.
Jane’s eyes met Brandon’s, but he looked as baffled as she felt. She turned back to the sliding glass door and was relieved to see Jen walking up the steps of the deck. She walked over and opened up the door.
Jen strode through the door without looking at anyone, walked straight through the room and into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.
Brandon met Jane’s eyes and they both sighed, understanding suddenly dawning.
“You guys had a fight?” Brandon asked Walter.
Walter was on his second glass of water and the only answer Brandon got was a grunt.
“Well, we’ll head to bed so you can sleep on the couch if you want. I think we should all get some sleep. It’s been a long day.”
He walked over to Jane and grabbed her hand. “Let’s go to bed, huh?”
“God, yes. This is just getting weird.”
They walked hand in hand to their bedroom and quietly shut the door behind them.
“We so don’t need those two to be at each other the rest of the week.” Jane walked over to the bed and started rummaging through her bag for her pajamas.
“I’ll talk to Walter in the morning. I’m sure everything will be okay.” Brandon leaned back against the door and watched Jane.
“It’s been such a weird day. What do you think was on the beach?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it was a trick of the light or weird beach phenomenon. I honestly didn’t think I smoked that much on the way down here.”
“You didn’t. And I saw something too.” Jane slumped on the bed and started taking off her shoes.
Brandon walked over and sat down next to her, his hand slowly sliding up her arm.
“How about we get naked and relax a little,” he mumbled as he started kissing her neck, slowly making his way to her lips. She turned her head and melted into the kiss, trying desperately to bring some normalcy to the strange start to their vacation.
Jane was walking down the beach, her bare feet sliding into the sand with each footstep. Dusk was just turning from purple to gray, slowly fading into black and the waves slipped up to the shore and slid back into the ocean, a steady back and forth motion. There was no sound, but Jane felt peace in the silence that surrounded her.
She felt the waves calling her and she walked towards the water, unable to stop. The waves covered her feet and slid back. She took a few steps forward and the next time the waves came up to her knees and slid back. The process continued until the waves reached her shoulders. Her eyes looked steadily forward and the peace she felt became a blanket, blocking out the cold wet darkness that finally covered her completely.
She floated in the water, adrift with the waves as they enshrouded her body, a comforting tomb. The first breath that slid water into her lungs was a relief she welcomed. She wanted this. She was finally home.
Just as her eyes were going dark around the edges, she saw a pale form floating toward her, reaching for her through the murky water.
Jane shot up in bed, a ragged scream echoing through the dark room. She leaned over the side of the bed and vomited onto the floor, her body retching violently. She was soaking wet and each breath she took came too quickly one after the other.
“Babe, are you okay?” Brandon was sitting up in bed, still startled from the scream that had dragged him out of sleep.
Jane was hyperventilating and crying at the same time. “I h-h-had the… w-w-worst nightmare!” She managed to get out in between racking sobs.
He reached for her and his hands slipped on her skin. “Jesus, Babe, you’re soaked.”
“I… I… I was d-d-drowning in the ocean. But… I wasn’t alone…”
Brandon reached for the blanket at the end of the bed and wrapped it around her shoulders. In a gentle voice, he said, “Babe, you need to breathe.” He pulled her toward him and started rocking her, not sure what else to do.
She sobbed for a few minutes longer, trying to take deeper breathes and finally, it started to fade. Once the sobbing stopped, her body started to shake.
“Jane, you’re okay. You’re safe. It was just a dream.” Brandon didn’t know what to say, but he kept repeating what he thought were reassuring words, rubbing her arms, kissing her neck.
Finally, in a soft voice that he could barely hear, she said, “Brandon, I don’t want to stay here anymore.”