The sea was where she always went to be alone with her thoughts. She liked looking out over the ocean, enjoyed watching the waves dance upon the shore. The warm sun caressed her skin. The cool ocean breeze blowing through her hair felt so liberating, giving her a sense of freedom she had not felt in so long. She was no stranger to this particular spot, going there a million times before. So many happy memories here, of good times past - friends, family, relationships. She felt grounded here, calm and at peace. She needed some time to think, to reflect, ponder on all that happened to her in the last year. She left to get away from him, to start over. But even here, far away from him, he clouded her thoughts. The pain was still fresh. She was glad to be back home, back to the sea. As she looked out onto the beautiful ocean her thoughts went back to another time; a time when they were together.
She met him on-line and after a month of emailing, they agreed to meet. She chose a place that was close to home and familiar. It was a seafood place, nothing special. She remembered thinking how she wished she would have chosen better. The establishment, run down by comparison to the one back home and she didn’t even like seafood. The date went surprisingly well; she had not expected this to be the case. He was charming, funny and seemed to be very interested in everything she had to say. It was a welcome change and it didn’t even matter that she did not find him all that attractive. By the second date she was taken with him. He was everything her ex-husband had not been. The kind of man she was looking for. For the next year her days were filled with exciting new places to go and things to see. He showed her a world she had never known. It was a very happy time and she knew that she never wanted it to end.
Unfortunately it did come to an end, like most things do. By the close of the second year she could see that he was not what he first appeared to be. He was still charming and funny and while he was with her he treated her like a queen. It was what he did when he was not with her that created the problem. The first signs came when she got suspicious of his cell phone use. It was not so much the use, really, as she had certainly never checked his cell phone calls. But it was the way he became very guarded of it. Never leaving it out in the open, never around where she happened to be. One early morning, before work, while getting a fresh towel from the bathroom cabinet she found his phone. How odd to find it here, hidden underneath the towels. Of course curiosity got the better of her and she looked at his text messages. What she found was alarming and disappointing. Countless text messages between him and other women complete with pictures. Looking back she knew she should have ended it right then, ran and never looked back. But she was in love and believed him when he said he would change, that he would never do this to her again. For awhile it seem to be true. Life went back to normal. They went out to eat at their favorite restaurants, attended movie matinees, and had delightful, sunshine filled, lazy days at the park and by the lake. Life was good!
In late July of their third year together the letter came. At first she thought it was a chain letter. It was addressed to her with no return address. When she found out what was inside, her whole world came crashing down. He had been living with another woman during the week while away on business and coming home to her on the weekend. Again, he apologized and swore to never hurt her again. She tried to forgive him, to trust again. But her heart was deceived and she could not imagine how she would ever fully trust him again. To make matters worse he was still betraying her trust and professing his love to her all at the same time. She stayed with him another year. In July of their fourth year, during the worst heat wave the city had seen in years she left him. She really still loved him deeply but could not go on this way. She had been through too much. She had suffered a knee injury, lost her job and was losing the man she loved. She felt as if she were drowning, sinking into some dark abyss. She had to save herself. It took everything she had to walk away. But she did …
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of seagulls flying overhead. The sun had lost its warm glow and she realized she was shivering. How long had she been in such deep thought? She had let herself drift back to a time that she was trying so desperately to forget. She wanted never to feel that pain again; she wanted to wash it away like the waves washing the seashells from the sand into the ocean. Her love had been deep as the ocean seas and her heart was now as dark and murky as the deepest depths of the ocean floor. Looking up at the sky, she once again noticed the seagulls. They seemed so free, souring so high, so strong, with not a care in the world. She wanted to feel that way again, knew that she would feel that way again. Her heart would be free again. She was strong, stronger than the pain that had so deeply once cut. She smiled in the realization that she had already begun that journey back and it felt good.