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Rose sat down heavily on the sand, which was cold now that the sun had long since dipped below the ocean. The water before her was glassy and black, the waves splashing against the shore. It was the only sound to break the silence that draped around her, almost tangible in the cool evening breeze. Darkness blanketed everything before her, but to her back, lights glowed from the hotels and beach resorts. Behind her, the world hummed with life. But before her, the world seemed lost, like it would never be able to pull itself out of the blackness that now encompassed it.
She clumsily kicked off her sandals and dug her toes into the sand. She closed her eyes as she felt the grains of sand squish between her toes and the wind sweep across her face. Rose waited—waited to hear her soft footsteps as she walked through the sand to her. Tonight had to be the night her mom would come to get her. She had promised, and Rose just knew that nothing in the world could prevent her from following through on it.
Again, she checked her watch. It was twenty past midnight. Her mom would be there in no longer than an hour, and Rose sat patiently, her hands fidgeting in her lap as anticipation swelled within her. She would be there soon. She had to be.
Rose’s thoughts drifted back to the eve of her mom’s departure, when her mom had left Rose here with her senile grandmother. Her mom had explained that she had to leave. It hadn’t been the first time she had explained it, but Rose had listened anyway. If there was one thing her mom had done for her, it was teaching her patience.
So here Rose sat, on a vacant beach in the middle of the night. Nearly a year had transpired since her mom deserted her. About a month ago, her mom had called to say that she was finally ready to pick her up. Rose had barely been able to contain her excitement for the past few weeks, and finally, finally, the day was here.
So then why was Rose out on the beach?
Her mom was supposed to have shown up hours ago. Rose had sat in the living room, anxiously glancing out the front window every now and then but never catching sight of her mom pulling into the driveway. She had to get out of there and away from her grandma’s pitying eyes. She had told her grandma she was going to sleep, but instead she’d slipped out the back door and walked across the street to the beach.
She checked her watch again, hating herself for doing so. It was two minutes past one. Her mom’s supposed plane had landed eight hours ago. She officially wasn’t coming.
Just as she was about to stand up and trudge home, she heard the footsteps she had been waiting to hear for the past hour, soft and nearly silent. A small smile tugged at the corners of Rose’s mouth, and heartbeat quickened. She knew her mom couldn’t have forgotten her! She just knew! She stood up and turned around, but when she saw who was standing there, the world settled back to the way it was supposed to be. Her heartbeat slowed to normal, her smile faded, and she closed her eyes against the sting of truth.
When she opened her eyes and looked at the world around her through the blur of threatening tears, she finally saw it for what it was. She looked at the raw reality of everything, without the false veil of hope she had previously created, and what it all amounted to was so simple that she should have seen it sooner. Despite all of her grandma’s shortcomings, she was here, pulling Rose into a warm embrace as tears pooled in her eyes; while her mom, wherever she may be, was farther away than a plain sum of miles.
“Let’s go home, Rosie,” her grandma suggested with apologetic eyes, as if somehow at fault for her daughter’s transgressions.
“Yeah,” Rose replied, for the first time truly regarding this place as her home. “Let’s go home,” she repeated, and the words warmed her. She was finally going home.