Originally published on The Weekly Knob
A little past 3 A.M, she arrives at the beach town of Gokarna. The sun has not sprouted its first ray yet and the moon is still at the helm. She checks into the hotel, plops her bags on the bed and makes herself an instant coffee. No creamer. The eight hour long drive has not gotten to her yet; she taps at The Lumineers playlist on her phone.
She flings open the sliding door and settles into the large cane chair on the deck. It is pitch dark, but she can see the silhouettes of the garden in the moonlight. The sound of crickets and of the ocean waves begin to lull her into a tranquility. She closes her eyes and lets the sleep consume her. Her anxieties are just an eight hour drive away, but right now they seem they’re like in another galaxy.
She wakes up to a sun still in its stupor, and Ophelia playing on her phone. She can now see the garden and the ocean. She throws on her floral flip-flops and goes to the beach for a stroll. Taking in a deep breath, she inhales the exhilarating feeling of this morning; and breathes out the uneasiness of her anxieties. Even if for a couple of days, she has broken free from the shell of her complicated life back in the city. Ocean always has this effect on her.
Strolling on the beach, with her flip-flops now dangling on her fingers, she picks out sea shells, as if from a force of habit. She wonders about the life beneath the ocean, looks at the shells with marvel — the different shapes, colours and textures. She slips two shells in her pocket to take back home. A souvenir.
She lights a cigarette, her first in two months. Yes, that’s the stuff.
She is engrossed in watching the dance of waves and the smoke vanishes in thin air when a thick voice startles her out of her zone.
“Hello? Do you have a lighter?”
“Yes”, she hands him the lighter, avoiding eye contact, but decides that his hands are very handsome; or maybe she has not been with a man in a long time.
She smiles meekly.
“I badly needed a cigarette, but forgot my lighter at the hotel. You know as they say, water water everywhere,” he says with a giggle.
She suppresses her witty response with another feeble smile.
“Alright then, I will leave you alone.”
He walks away.
She is safe in her shell.