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Lost feelings of sand and rain


Danica Valyn
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The air always carried the same familiar smell in the moments just following a thunder storm. It was a sweet, comforting aroma that lingered in the nose even here on the beach, where coastal winds were quick to saturate the area with the equally familiar smell of the sea. Afternoon storms were common in the warm, summer months on Florida’s gulf coast, and over the years, barefoot walks on the beach had become somewhat of a routine for Jade Valyn. She often excused her walks by saying they were just trips to survey the beach for pieces of sea glass churned up by the storm, but in reality they were much more to her. They provided her a time for quiet reflection, a time for her to take advantage of the brief moment of privacy to be alone with her thoughts. Occasionally, she would walk the beach with a friend, or her daughter, but more often than not, she preferred to spend the time alone. Today would be a little different.

This day, she walked the beach beside William Reed, a man whom she considered as her soul mate, and father of her only child. It was a shame, perhaps even a little tragic, that the two had never been able to find a way to spend their lives together. It was as much her fault as it was his, and she often tormented herself for never being able to find the courage to accept any of William’s proposals of marriage. Today, though, wasn’t just going to be about the two of them. Today, she was about to lose her little girl.

This loss was inevitable, and deep down, Jade knew there was nothing she could do to avoid it. Danica was eighteen after all, and in reality, only “little” in a symbolic sense. She was forced to realize that her daughter had come to a point in her life where she had chosen her own path to follow, and while Jade may not have agreed with it, there was little she could do to influence Danica into a different direction.

It might have been a little inappropriate, but as the two walked the beach, Jade held tightly onto William’s right arm, resting her head on his shoulder. But if her display affection made him at all uncomfortable, his reaction to her touch didn’t show it. They had spent so much of their lives apart that it was easy for her to forget just how relaxed he made her feel when they were together. It was a feeling that she felt all too infrequently, and one that had become especially rare within the last ten years. A scarcity of feeling that made this slow walk on the beach all the more precious to her.

Jade scanned the dark sand beneath their feet with her eyes, and spoke to William, without looking directly at him, “So, have you heard your daughter wants to join Starfleet?”

William knew this was more of a statement than a question, and attempted to ignore her accusatory tone. Jade had always blamed him for Danica’s infatuation with leaving Earth, and this was just her subtle way of bringing up the subject once again. Tilting his head, he pressed his cheek against her straight, black hair. He knew that accepting the prospect of her daughter choosing a life that would, most likely, lead her away from Earth had to be difficult for her. A life on a starship verses one on Earth had always been one of the biggest stumbling blocks between the two of them.

“So, today she’s my daughter?” He said as a faint echo of thunder rumbled in the distance.

Lifting her head, she looked up at him as the breeze whipped gently through his sandy blonde hair, “Today? You know as well as I do that she’s always been Daddy’s little girl. Ever since she first saw that bucket of yours, she couldn’t wait to get away from me.”

William paused their walk, breaking from her embrace. Moving around in front of her, he placed his index finger under her chin, tilting her gaze up towards him, and then firmly grasped her by both of her arms.

“Babe, it’s got nothing to do with you. You know that. It’s got nothing to do with me either. It’s . . . it’s just what she wants. She’s talked about Starfleet for years now. I know I didn’t put that idea into her head, and I’m sure you didn’t either. It was her choice.”

“It’s that easy then?” She asked, staring into his blue eyes.

“Our little girl’s all grown up.” He paused his thought for a moment, using the break to fully take in the silky beauty of Jade’s dark skin. “She’s going to make her own decisions and live her own life. We can’t force her into something that she doesn’t want.”

“I’ll never understand how it’s so easy for you,” Jade said, redirecting her gaze out towards the western horizon.

“How what’s so easy?” He questioned, never taking his eyes off of the contours of her face.

Her chin quivered slightly as she replied, “Saying goodbye.”

He let go of her arms and turned around. Taking a few steps away from her, he ran both of his hands through his hair, locking his fingers across the back of his head. “That’s not fair, Jade.”

She sighed deeply and closed her eyes, forcing a couple tears to roll down her cheeks. Wiping them away with the fingers of her right hand, she walked towards him, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head against his back.

“I know,” she said softly, “I’m sorry. I just wish the Academy wasn’t her first step. I always wanted her to go to college, to have the chance to live just a little bit, before making this kind of commitment.”

William placed his hands over hers, “She’ll still go to school. I’m sure you have to have some kind of a degree to be a headshrinker, after all.”

Letting go of him, she pushed him away laughing, “You be nice.”

“What? It’s true,” he said, grabbing hold of her hands.

She looked up, into his eyes, caressing his palms with her thumbs, “That’s not what I meant, though. I wanted her to go to school first, and then, if she still found civilian life so intolerable . . . then the Academy.”

Turning away, William continued their walk, holding onto her right hand, “She’s come up with her own plan, and you know as well as I do that she’s not going to change her mind. That stubbornness of hers is what you get for raising a teenager.”

As the couple continued to walk the beach, Jade went back to surveying the ground. As they reached the jetty, she turned them around and headed back towards the condo. She purposely slowed her pace in order to milk as much time as she could with William. The subtle scent of rain in the air had all but gone, and other than the occasional call of a gull, it was remarkably quite on this small section of the beach. It was almost as if this half kilometer stretch of sand between the jetty and the docks were reserved for their own personal use. A small slice of heaven, set aside just for them.

As they reached the sea wall beneath Jade’s condominium, William stopped for a moment and sat down in the still damp sand. Sitting down next to him, Jade once again rested her head on his shoulder. They looked out over Gulf of Mexico as the afternoon sun approached the horizon. The sun, itself, was a deep orange, and it painted the sky in various shades ranging from yellow to pink. The water, still a little choppy from the rain, beat gently against the sandy coast, in a soothing rhythm that could easily lull one to sleep.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Jade asked as she wrapped her arms around William’s.

He looked away from the horizon, down to her, and sat silently until she looked up towards him. Briefly forgetting himself, and lost in her eyes, he whispered softly, “Yes it is,” and gently kissed her lips. The first kiss was short and sweet, but was quickly followed by a longer, more passionate embrace. For a few seconds, the two were overwhelmed by feelings of their youth, transporting them to a time before all the fighting and complications had gotten in the way. It was a time and place in their lives where nothing mattered but each other, and where the hopes and dreams of their hearts remained to this day. It was a time long ago, though, and as William remembered the wife and daughter waiting for him at home, his heart sunk in his chest, and he pulled away from Jade slowly.

Resting his forehead against hers, he closed his eyes and apologized. “I’m sorry.”

Closing her eyes as well, Jade fought the urge to kiss him again and responded simply with, “Me too.”

The two sat there for a moment, quietly enjoying the other’s touch. They had made a lot of mistakes throughout the years, and for William, this was just another to add to the list. As he leaned away from Jade, he stood up, brushing the cool sand from the seat of his pants. Looking out towards the Gulf, he watched as the sun touched the edge of the horizon.

Looking down at Jade, he smiled, “I guess we didn’t find any glass.”

“They’ll be other storms,” she said, “We’ll just have to try again some other time.”

He helped her to her feet, and waited next to her as she cleaned her own thin film of sand from her pant legs. Turning away from the gulf, they walked up the steps of the sea wall to the patio above them. No longer holding hands, they approached the entrance to Jade’s condominium, stopping just outside the doors. Standing opposite of her, William purposefully left plenty of space between them. He stared at the ground, still feeling a little awkward about the moment that had just passed.

“So . . . umm, I guess I should go up and say goodbye to Dani.”

“Did you want to stay for dinner?” Jade asked him, certain he would decline.

“I can’t. Jennifer’s going to be expecting me.” Lifting his head, he looked at Jade so that he could see just how she was feeling. Reaching his hand to her face, he swept away a few misplaced strands of her hair so that he had an unobstructed view of her eyes. “You’re gonna to be okay.”

“I know,” she said blushing slightly, “I’m just not ready to let her go.”

He reached out and hugged her, breathing heavily as she buried her face against his chest. They stood in the doorway of the condominium, each content to hold the other, and never move from this moment in time. It was fleeting, though, and Jade finally found the strength to pull away from him.

Taking a second to compose herself, she looked up at him, “You better come up and say goodnight to your daughter.”

“I suppose you’re right,” he said, and followed her upstairs.

In the sky above them, the afternoon storm clouds had mostly cleared, as they moved further inland. One or two could still be seen, each speckled with random flashes of lightning, producing the occasional, slow clap of thunder. As the sun continued its journey below the gulf’s horizon, the color pallet it produced on the evening sky deepened. The bold colors became more striking, and the illuminated sky seemed to blanket the whole area in a warm and cozy glow. Just for a moment, the failing rays of the sun gleamed off of a frosty, smooth object in the sand near the surf. The small piece of brown, weathered glass, peeked up, but blended into the sand and rocks around it. For a few seconds, it looked up at the painted sky in reverence, before being quickly lost beneath the surface of a crashing wave.

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Ensign Danica Valyn

Counselor

Starbase 118

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