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"How has he been lately?"



He parked his car on the edge of the sand and sat and watched the turbulent waves crush the shells and sand that children searched for. The waves held his gaze for nearly a minute when finally he remembered why he was there. He stared at the waves and knew that he wanted to be a part of that powerful force, the force that could create and preserve or destroy and conquer.



"Jack's been fine, but he keeps asking to go to the ocean. And when we go to the library, all he wants are the books on water and marine life. What do you think that all means?"



Sunset was a four hours ago, so he left his headlights on. He got out of the car and walked to an area where his feet wouldn't get soaked by water, but where he could still feel the mist from the ocean. He kicked off his shoes with the fronts of his feet and threw them into the ocean. He waited to hear a splash but he guessed that the sound was swallowed by its immense and jealous power. He knew that his shoes would have hit the water by now but he waited and closed his eyes and imagined them toppling over one another and finally separating from one each other. Sadness overcame him because no matter what, the shoes were always together and now they were apart and that was his fault. He opened his eyes.


"Do you think it’s because… never mind. I wouldn't read too much into it, mother. You know that he will get little obsessions one week and he will be on the next thing just as quick."


He tried to take a step into the water, but he unwillingly stepped back. He wanted nothing more than to feel the water flood his toes and surround his ankles, but he kept taking steps back. Finally, he stopped and started to walk along the shore. He was enraged at himself, but if someone were to look at his face they would only see placid eyes and lips. His heart was beating faster while he asked himself if he could trust him. I have always been here for him. I brought him to the ocean just like he wanted.


"Your right but this time it just feels different. He was so persistent only going to the beach so I took him but all he did was sit there. When we left he just had this look of disappointment. Like this trip didn’t satisfy whatever he wanted. It just scares me because I don’t know what he is capable of; what he wants."


He stopped talking to him and just kept walking along the ocean. He looked behind him and saw that he was being followed. He began to run. He didn’t want to go back. They wouldn’t catch him. The ocean is where he would have tried to escape to but his body wouldn’t let him. He kept running. A seashell pierced his foot while running, yet he didn’t he feel it. He was scared that the shoes would no longer be together and he was mad that his legs wouldn’t let him go into the water and he was happy that he would soon be free.

“So what have you been up to since Dad passed.”


He was running for what felt like hours when he tripped into the sand. He got sand into his mouth that rattled both his jaw and his brain. However, he didn’t try to get up, but just laid there and thought about who was trying to catch him. Whose feet were those that were right behind his? It was probably mother who wouldn’t allow me out of the house. She was probably mad that I took her car. Maybe it was his father because he felt bad for leaving him and mom. Maybe it was him who was trying to stop him from getting in the water. He wondered why he was being so rude. He was the reason he was here. He remembered again.

“It really just been me and Jack trying to figure things out. Did I mention that he is failing most of his classes? I just don’t what I going to do with him. It’s been even harder now that you’re in college. Baby, I just don’t know what I’m going to do. Oh, goodness. Look at me. I’m crying.

He got up and he now was going to get into the water. He was the reason he was here. He didn’t know why he was trying to stop him. He finally wanted to go into the water but now he didn’t want to. His legs were dragged one after the other through the sand as though it was against his will. If one were to watch him from afar, it would seem that Jack was trying to walk against a raging hurricane. When the forces of that great imaginary typhoon finally began to be unbearable, he stopped.

“Mom, don’t worry about. I’m sorry I even asked. Why don’t you go to bed. I’ll take care of Jack and you can go to bed. Where is he?”

He dropped his head and stared at his feet. He felt a cold sensation beneath his foot. He plopped onto the ground and looked at where the blood was coming from. He was bleeding. He began to cry and through teary eyes. He saw that water drops were mixing into the blood coming from his feet. He wasn’t crying because he was bleeding, but because what was leaving him was his but no matter how hard he tried he would never get it back. Why are you crying again?

“He should be in his bed.”


Why do you keep stopping? Get up.


“Well you go to bed and I’ll go check on him.”


He got up and jumped into water. He felt so many different sensations around his body. He felt a stinging beneath his feet. The seaweed wrapping around his ankles. The water freezing his body. The taste of salt in his mouth. He felt nothing. Wasn’t this supposed to be a liberating? Wasn’t this supposed to free me from the pain? After that thought was when he remembered that he couldn’t swim. He gasped for air.


“Okay, baby.”


I’m drowning.


“Jack, are you asleep? Jack are you in here? Jack? Mom, Jack isn’t up here.


Help


“What do you mean? He has to be up there.”





“His window’s open.”


He felt arms go underneath his that dragged him through the strong current. His lungs were filling with air and while water was erupting from his mouth with abrupt barks he opened his eyes to see his sister. Even though this was when he felt the urge to cry the most, when he felt that his tear ducts were on the brink of erupting with a concrete form of pain and sadness, he didn’t. All he said was, “Hello.”

“Hello? What were you thinking? You drove mother’s car here and she’s back home having a panic attack over you. Are you okay? You took mom’s car and you’re only fourteen. What you did was wrong Jack. You can’t do that. Do you understand what you could have done tonight? You could have killed someone on the drive here. What am I doing? You need to go the hospital.”

“How did you know I was here?”

“Mom said that all you ever talk about is going to the ocean, so I gave it a try. Stop talking. You could have drowned out there. You’re bleeding. No, you’re going to the hospital right now.”

She picked him up from the ground because his body was weak from all of the running and crying and deflecting each memory that awoke from inside him. He remembered why he was here. He wasn’t there to be in the water and join the ocean, but to join his father who was his creator and preserver and destroyer and conquer. She set him in the passenger seat and buckled his seat belt. She slammed her door and ran to the other side. In the process, she had already dialed her mom’s phone number. “I have him with me.”

“Oh my God. Was he really I the ocean?”

“Yes,” She sighed.

“I should have been more careful. What was I thinking? I think I’m going to get sick.”

Once she heard that, she held the one away from and looked at it with sympathy and then held it to her shoulder. She looked at Jack and said, “Jack, tell me. Why were you there?”

“I wanted to see Dad,” he said with eyes nearly closed and with a raspy and strained voice.

“Why would he be there?”

“He wouldn’t be there and that’s why I thought I would have found him.”

The car screeched to a halt in the middle of the road as she slammed her foot on the break sending both her and Jack forward. She pulled the phone away from her shoulder and hung it up to the sound of her mother gasping for air and throwing up.
“I don’t understand.”

“He was never where we needed him so I thought that would be the first place he would be.”

“Jack, Dad’s gone but it’s not his fault.”

“What do you mean it’s not his fault? It was his choice to go on the boat.”

“I don’t know what he was thinking that day but you can’t worry about that now. You weren’t the only one who lost him that day; Mom lost dad too and now I’m at college so you need to be there for her. I don’t want to come across like I don’t understand what you’re feeling and why you did what you did tonight, but you can’t be so selfish as to leave mom forever alone; leaving just her and me. This family is not the same without you. We need you Jack.” She looked over at him and saw the he had fallen asleep.

She called her mom back and explained it all to her. She explained his obsession with the ocean and why he had done what he did. She explained all of this to the sound of her mother’s sobs in the phone.

It wasn’t that he was trying to ignore her, but he was exhausted from the fighting and struggling that he had experienced throughout the night. When his eyes closed that last time for the night, he remembered why he was at the beach. It was because his father told him to do so. He had guided him and protected him. Jack did not understand at the time why his father would do such a thing to both him and his family, but now he understood. His father had put his family through this so that they would be closer. He would save this family if it were the last thing he would do.



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