What the Waves Said

I was awoken that morning by a salty breeze as light as a feather drifting in from the nearby ocean shore. A symphony of crashing waves filled my ears. The mesmerizing scent of fragrant blossoms overwhelmed my senses as I crawled out of my small, thin bed. It was a breathtakingly beautiful summer day on the island that I gratefully called home.

You see, my parents are botanists, which is a scientist who studies plants. Eight years ago when I was only six, my family packed up our bags and moved to a remote island in the South Pacific so they could conduct research on the exotic plant life here. Most people would think that a teenage girl such as myself would hate living out of civilization with only her parents to keep her company, but I wouldn’t change my strange life for anything. As an aspiring artist, it is a dream to be surrounded by such striking scenery at all times.

Outside, it is as hot as volcano lava. The fresh breeze was gone as quick as that, and the new humidity seemed to weigh 100 pounds! The sun was a boiling red fire against the sky’s light blue backdrop, flicking crisp golden beams onto me.

I walked across the hot white sands over to the kitchen hut, where my mother was making breakfast.

“Hello, Skye. Sleep well?” asked my mother as she handed me a ceramic bowl filled to the brim with sweet strawberries and juicy blueberries.

I nodded my response, pulling my wild auburn curls into a low ponytail. As I poured myself a glass of icy cold orange juice, I gazed out into the prettiest gem on the island-the ocean. It was a mass of sparkling blue ripples, gentle waves stirring about in the glimmering water. Right now, the waves were quiet, symbolizing serenity. Growing up, my parents would always tell me that the waves would talk to you, giving you inspirational messages when you need them the most. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get the waves to talk to me. I guess I just didn’t need them yet.

I grabbed my withered up leather sketchbook and began to draw, my favorite pastime. It has been my lifelong dream to be a famous artist since I had taken a finger-painting class in kindergarten. I hoped to have my paintings on display at the most famous galleries and museums all around the world. I want people to be able to flip through my messy, ugly sketchbook and think, “Wow, that Skye Wilder is so creative!”

I began to sketch a nearby flower, dancing in the returning breeze. As I sketched away, my mind went into a dream world. Reality stopped as I entered a fascinating new dimension, the world of my art. I never wanted to leave.

All of the sudden, I heard the whirling of winds, making my ears ring. I cringed, bracing the worst as the palm trees swayed. Was it a hurricane? No, it had been a picture perfect day just seconds ago.

“Don’t worry, Skye! It’s just your Uncle Pete and cousins. They’re dropping off for a visit, remember?” chirped my father, waving to the roaring private jet above us.

Oh, I had remembered they were coming for a visit. I just had expected them to be coming on a boat like most of our visitors, not in a luxury jet. I guess Uncle Pete really was a millionaire.

Uncle Pete? I barely remembered him. I don’t even remember how he looks like. And what about my cousins? I faintly remember playing in the sandbox with one of them back when my family lived in New York.

I gasped in shock as a futuristic private jet dipped through the sky like an enflamed comet. I had never seen anything like that before, and I wasn’t sure if I even liked it. That jet must have cost millions, but I guess that wasn’t a problem for Uncle Pete.

The jet landed softly on the sand near the shore, crushing the beautiful flower I had been sketching into a million tiny little pieces. I cringed and crumbled up the page in my sketchbook. I hated not finishing sketches.

“Pete!” my mother exclaimed as the front door of the flower-killing machine opened. She wrapped her younger brother into a hug.

“It’s great to see you, Kelly,” he replied. “We missed you at Christmas. Anyways, you look amazing!”

Uncle Pete was a tall man with thick sandy blonde hair similar to my mother’s. He had a friendly smile and bluish-green eyes with a curious twinkle in them.

“And you must be the famous Skye!” he said. “I haven’t seen you since you were in the first grade with my daughter Brianna? Do you remember Brianna? You two used to be inseparable when you were younger.”

I had some recollection of little, blonde Brianna. We used to be best friends. We would play with paper dolls and break into her mother’s makeup collection. Of course, that was a long time ago.

Just then, two other kids exited the jet-my cousins. The first one was a short boy who looked around eight or nine. He had light, sun-streaked hair and wide-set green eyes. Next to him was Brianna, who looked nothing like the giggly little girl I knew from first grade, the one with the fairy princess costume and missing front teeth.

This Brianna was sophisticated, with a sleek blonde braid that cascaded down her back. She was wearing a stylish black top and shorts that probably cost more than my entire wardrobe. Her icy blue eyes framed by long, dark lashes were narrowed. Her glossy lips were pursed into a pout. Brianna was clearly not thrilled to be here.

“Dad,” she whined. “My cell phone doesn’t work. I need to text my friends. Why are we even here when all my friends are in Manhattan?”

Uncle Pete glanced apologetically at me before turning to his daughter. “You remember Jamie and Brianna, right Skye?”

I nodded, putting on my friendliest smile. “Yeah, I remember you! We used to be best friends back in the day.”

Brianna raised an eyebrow at me and just turned away. Yes, she didn’t even answer me. How rude! I instantly didn’t like this girl.

“Well,” Brianna said flatly. “I think I’m just going to go work on my tan. I’m absolutely exhausted.”

“Skye, why don’t you go show Brianna your bedroom?” my mom asked, despite my angry glare in her direction.

Brianna and I both sighed as I lead her into the hut where my room was located. It was a small room with scratchy wood floors that hurt your feet, a bed, and a book shelf. It wouldn’t be all that interesting if it wasn’t for my art wall. I had an ocean-themed mural I was working on and I’ve always thought it was really cool. Apparently, Brianna didn’t agree.

“So, this is your room? It’s so…small,” she sneered, putting her French-manicured hand on her hip. “You must be pretty lonely out here.”

I shook my head no. “It might seem lonely, but it’s not like that to me. There’s so much going about here and you don’t even notice it unless you just take a moment to soak up the atmosphere.”

It was true. You must have absolute peace of mind to be able to soak up the pure, sparkling magic that enveloped the island like a mist.

Brianna didn’t answer. She just reached into her designer purse and spritzed heavily scented perfume, intoxicating the clean air. I sighed to myself, beginning my count to when Brianna finally left.

“I can’t stand her,” I stated that evening as I helped my mother cook dinner. “She acts like she’s so much better than me just because she’s rich and has everything. Why did you invite them here for a week?”

My mom flashed a smile at me. It wasn’t a kind smile, but one that told me that I was in store for a lecture.

“Skye, sweetie, people are different. That’s what makes the human race so special. Not one is exactly the same, although some are more alike than others. Of course, this is very confusing which is why I choose to spend my time around plants. Plants don’t mess with your head like people do,” my mom said as she sliced the bread.

“So what do you think I should do about Brianna?” I asked, juggling a pile of plates and setting up the table.

“Hey, why don’t you show her and Jamie around the island? No one knows it better than you,” my mom suggested, handing me the pitcher of freshly squeezed juice. “You two can bond again. Who knows, maybe you’ll become friends!”

I snorted. That was never going to happen. Brianna and I were completely different species. I was bright, free-spirited day and she was dark, refined night. We would never, ever become friends.

After dinner, I began to show Jamie and Brianna around the island. Channeling my inner tour guide, I began to walk along the sandy pathway marked by multicolored flowers. I reached down, plucking a silky petal off.

“Okay, guys,” I said. “I know it’s obvious, but this is the ocean shore. It’s where all the fun takes place here on the island.”

“What fun?” Brianna mumbled under her breath. She was too busy sulking to admire the tropical flowers.

I sat down on the delicate sand as the cool waves lapped at my tanned feet. Jamie sat down next to me, his big, childlike green lost in the enchanting Pacific Ocean. It was quite a sight.

“I’m not sitting in the sand,” Brianna sniffed, sticking her perfectly sculpted nose into the air. She continued her moping. “Anyways, can we please just get this tour over with? I think I’m starting to get a sun burn.”

Although there wasn’t a trace of sunburn on Brianna’s flawless skin, I got up and continued walking along the pathway. We circled past an array of palm trees, their leaves excitedly waving us hello.

“Let me show you guys the back of the island. This is where my parents do most of their research because there is such bountiful plant life here. You will never see so many flowers in one place,” I said to them.

I lead them over to a small, woodsy place behind all the huts. It was shady and cool back here, and a little bit dark as well. With the shadowy, mysterious scenery and beautiful flowers, it looked like an enchanted forest from a fairy tale.

When I was younger, I thought this place was magical. I’d sit on a log and wait for an elf or a fairy to come join me. To be honest, I’m still waiting.

“Wow, look at all the flowers!” Jamie exclaimed, rushing over to observe the assortment of blossoms in every color of the rainbow.

Brianna and I sat next to each other on a bench my parents had set up. It was getting darker and sun had sunk into the ground. Now the sky was painting with brilliant shades of red, orange, pink, and even purple. It was dazzling, and I could tell Brianna thought so too because, just for a second, her lips upturned into a smile.

“This place is kind of pretty,” she offered. It made me feel better to now that she was at least trying to get along with me.

“It is pretty,” I agreed. “Really, really pretty.”

After that, I almost considered giving Brianna another chance. Of course, she just had to go ahead and ruin our possible friendship by talking.

“So what’s it like to just be living with your parents? I mean, it must be so hard. You don’t have any malls or a cell phone or anything. Your life must be pretty sad.”

I raised my eyebrow. Her father may be a millionaire, but that doesn’t mean she can just go and judge my lifestyle.

“Well, I love this island. It’s my home. I wouldn’t trade it for any private jet or shopping mall,” I replied.

“Really?” Brianna asked doubtfully. “I know I sound rude, but as your cousin it’s my job to guide you to make the right decisions. This island is, um, great, but there is so much to the world that you haven’t seen yet. You’re missing out on so much. After all, you can enjoy nature when you’re older. You can only be fourteen and clueless once.”

I felt awful, but I couldn’t help but see that Brianna had a point-I was missing out on a lot of normal teenage stuff. The last time my family boated out to a big, nearby island to get more food and clothes, I bought an American teen magazine. I learned a lot about the culture in the United States.

I love this island more than anything, but it would be fun to go to a sleepover or to a school dance like a normal teenage girl.

“What’s this?” Brianna asked as we stepped in front of my art studio. It was just a small hut in the back of the woods. It used to be my parents’ office, but they gave it to me last year so I could I have a place to store my artwork.

“Just someplace I keep my art,” I murmured shyly. Brianna seemed too mature to enjoy some silly paintings of the sunset or the ocean. She’d probably think I was more of a child than I already was.

Before I could stop here, Brianna walked inside. I awaited the laughter and snarky comments, but instead Brianna turned to me, looking impressed.

“Wow, Skye, this is amazing! These paintings look like something I’d see in a museum back in NYC,” Brianna said, looking just as shocked as I am.

I smiled, unsure about how to react. Brianna was so confusing. One second, she was mocking my way of life, and the next, she was complimenting my artwork. Was this what friendships were like in America?

“It’s my dream to be a famous painter,” I whispered, tapping my foot on the musty wooden floor. “I want to be able to inspire people with my art.”

“Well, how are you ever going to sell your paintings if you live in a remote island in the middle of the ocean?” Brianna proclaimed. “You will never achieve your dream. Plus, all these paintings are of the islands. Wouldn’t it be interesting to paint some new scenery?”

I contemplated for a moment, stepping back outside. It was getting dark, and dusk had wrapped around the island. The sky was beginning to be filled with glorious white stars and I was brought back into the thrilling feeling the island always gave me.

I guess I would like to paint something else. I thought about Manhattan. There were all sorts of fascinating things there-taxis, skyscrapers, amusement parks, and more. I would love to capture the essence of the busy city on an easel with a paintbrush.

“Move to New York with me,” Brianna said abruptly before I had time to answer her previous question. “C’mon, you’re my cousin and I’m even considering you to be my friend. You need to have a normal life. I’m not saying you need to live in the city forever. Just come to high school with me…I don’t really have much friends at home.”

Wow, Brianna didn’t have any friends? She seemed like the popular type, the kind of girl everyone wanted to hang out with. I guess I shouldn’t have judged her.

“I want to go,” I mumbled, the words entangling themselves in my mouth. “I mean, if my parents let me. I want to see the world. I want to see the city and have an adventure.”

Brianna smiled at me. This was the first time I saw her smile instead of pout, and her face lit up like a light bulb. “I knew you would agree.”

Two weeks later, I was standing on the warm, white sand for the last time. The air was a bit colder than usual, and the sky was the same brilliant blue it always has been. Birds sang a sweet song as they flew by.

I couldn’t believe I was actually leaving. In two days, I would be in New York. I felt my heart race just thinking about it. Was this the right thing to do?

“Skye,” my mother said. “Your father and I are really going to miss you. We are glad that you came with us and our scientific research this far, but it is time you start your own creative journey.”

My mother’s hazel green eyes, so similar to my own, glistened to tears as she hugged me tightly. I wiped away my own warm tears. I would really miss this place.

“It’s your time to shine,” my father whispered into my ear. “Have fun in New York.”

I waved them goodbye for the last time and boarded the private jet. Sitting on a comfortable leather chair, I gazed out into the magnificent ocean. The ocean that I had always taken for granted for. I can’t believe I wouldn’t see it again for a long time.

Splish splash! I watched the soft waves in the ocean, listening for them talk like my parents always said they would. For the first time, I heard something.

Go on Skye, the ocean spoke. It’s scary to leave, but every bird needs to leave the nest one day. Explore the world. See what you can find. Go have an adventure.

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