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The Jade Sea

By Virtex

The somber clouds had rolled in at sunset the previous day, splintering the sun’s rays across the pale beach, splashing the tide with swaths of pink and orange. As the sun had slipped resolutely into the ocean, the clouds had blotted out the stars, tumbling across the sky like some dark wildfire. The rain began shortly after.

Matthew awoke that morning to its sound, its gentle assault on his uncle’s beach house. The light under the bedroom curtains was sickly and weak, leaving him no indication of what time it was. He lay in bed for several moments. His eyes were fixed upon the vaulted ceiling so unlike that of his bedroom at home. He rolled over, away from the window, facing the maple bookcase that further reminded him of where he was. The room was drowned in hues of slate, enveloped in the tap of rain on the ceiling and windows. At last unable to resume his slumber, Matthew sat up and glanced at his alarm clock. Though what it told him was not to his liking, he reluctantly arose from beneath the sheets and went to the window.

Upon drawing the curtains he was faced with a stark, abandoned beach. The typically crystalline sands had turned a dull gray and were peppered with black debris, mostly the shells of small sea creatures. The tide was harsh and unrelenting, resembling an indignant lion lunging upon its prey as it fell with a roar onto the beach. The ocean itself was a languid jade color, and for as far as could be seen, there were only the craggy, frosted peaks of waves. It reminded him of Alyssa’s eyes—that desperate, dark beautiful green, locked in a frost of the palest white.

Clothing himself in battered khakis and a dark t-shirt, Matthew left the dim bedroom and trudged down the soft blue carpet of the muted passageway leading to the stairs. The walls were paneled with dark cherry oak. As he went down the stairs, he let his fingers slide against them, dipping in the tiny gap between each panel. His bare feet soon reached the cold porcelain tile of the kitchen, and he quickly stepped onto the warmer carpet of the living room that led up to it.

This room, like his, had been draped in the dull, ashen palate of a rainy day. The big screen television in the corner sat dark and dead, staring back at him in an almost lonely manner. Matthew cautiously approached the sofa that lay before the television and peered over it, expecting to be pained once again as he had the morning before when he saw Alyssa sleeping on it instead of in the bed with him. He was surprised to find that she was not there. However, he could see the curvy indention in the cushions, like the fossil of some lost beauty, and that was all the evidence he needed. He turned back to face the darkened kitchen, and did not see Alyssa in there.

The intimate sound of rain falling on a hard surface slowly filled his hearing until he realized that the sliding doors onto the back deck were open. Matthew went and stood in the rectangle of frail light let in by the open doors, staring at Alyssa’s back. She was still in her pajamas, which consisted of her old red cheerleading shorts and a black tank top. She was standing barefoot on the wet wood of the deck, leaning against the railing and looking at the tumultuous sea. For just a moment, Matthew gazed at her enticing form and felt her slipping away as a surge of melancholy seemed to wash over him from the ocean.

He wasn’t letting go just yet. He walked outside and felt the water puddles splashing up against his ankles as he moved toward his girlfriend. Just one more time he wrapped his arms around her smooth mid drift, trying to pull her close. But it was of no use—there exists an invisible, impassable boundary between people when love has become lopsided. Pull as much as he could, Matthew knew he was not going to get Alyssa any closer. And no matter how much he moved his hands over the soft skin of her stomach, it would not warm up for him. She would not warm up for him.

He rested his chin on her shoulder, and she continued to ignore his presence. He looked at her cheeks, saw they were sprinkled with streaming water, but he could not tell if she was crying or not. She finally turned to face him, and her eyes framed themselves against the jade sea. They were stormy and gorgeous, but somehow clear of purpose all at once. There was a pain and a distance in them he had not seen before, and they would not connect with his.

“We should not have come here.” She said. “You knew it was too late for us, Matthew.”

Matthew sighed and released his uncomfortable grip from Alyssa. He felt the rain sliding down his cheeks and a burning in his eyes. “Was there ever a chance? Did I ever have a chance over Brad?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry, Matthew.”

Alyssa finally met his stare, but not for long enough. She broke away from him and went back inside. Matthew turned to the sea, hoping it would somehow substitute for her once loving gaze. But like her, it had grown cold and uninviting.

He had known two days ago when they’d left to housesit for his uncle that it had been a bad idea to go together. He had known a year ago when they’d started dating that he was just going to be house sitting the entire time, trying to fill and keep warm a place that had never belonged to him.

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by Virtex

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