Saturday, February 20, 2010, 10:42 AM, time zone withheld
You must login to vote
Taking a page from the locals, Satu had decided to set up a sort of blog- her "Satu Cam", an ongoing video log, that she recorded using Yelina's duct-taped communications contraption. When she had a little time, she got the device out, did some video-editing, and sent the results back to the ship.
The others didn't know it, but Satu had placed mini-cams all around the resort, so that she could keep track of everything that happened. Satu smiled to herself as she replayed the girls' antics, as Carly caught her eel, and the girls had scattered, squealing in delighted fright. It was hard for her to watch her daughter alone with Jason . . . hard and painful to watch her young daughter's first love . . . but, she reasoned, the people back on the ship needed to see this, to be reminded of this and all the other things they were missing.
She finished up, sent the result, and left the bedroom to rejoin the others. To her surprise, everyone had gone out . . . everyone except Jack, who sat alone, staring off into space before the front window. He stirred when he heard her.
'Sorry! I thought you were out with the others.'
She joined him, frowning at what she had seen in him. 'You looked so sad just now . . . almost I wanted to cry, seeing you in such pain.'
Looking caught, he seemed about to say something. Then, to her surprise, he turned away abruptly, unable to look in her direction. 'It's these damned memories,' he choked in a dry voice. 'They won't bloody leave me alone. It seems the better things get . . . the more they're trying to get out. But I can't . . . !'
Satu left him, abruptly, and went in search of Arley.
She found Arley with the girls, turning over rocks on the beach. Seeing her expression, Arley stopped what she was doing. 'Satu? What's wrong? Has something happened?'
Drawing her aside, Satu said, 'Jack needs you right now-'
Satu related what she'd just seen and heard.
Arley gave her a look. 'Why me? Why don't you?'
'You know why,' Satu told her, looking directly into her eye. 'Because I can't give him what he needs.'
Her features suffused, Arley choked, 'I can't! Not now . . . not yet! It . . . it's too soon-'
Satu gave her a look. 'You never loved Ian. Not really. I see it in your eyes, each and every time I see you with Jack. Ian held up an image tailor-made for you, and you jumped at it, and now you're feeling hurt and wretched and used, and you're angry at yourself for having been used . . . but that image of Ian was a ghost, Arley! It wasn't real!
'Jack is a flesh-and-blood man, and he needs you, and you love him- don't you try to deny it! I'm a woman, just like you! I've seen how your eyes follow him . . . how you look at him.'
Arley shook her head. 'Satu . . . what you're asking . . . I can't! I just can't!'
'But you can hold on to the false ghost of a false man,' Satu said ingenuously. 'Is that what you're telling me? You're going to let men like Ian and Holcomb and Sutter win? Is that it?'
'You don't understand!' Arley choked. 'Somewhere deep down, I knew the truth about Ian. Don't look so surprised! Yes, I knew it all along. But I went along, because it made me feel like I could still be in control when it was over between us. There, I've told you. So now you can all hate me-'
'Go to Jack,' Satu told her very quietly.
'You can,' Satu told her firmly. 'You can and you will.'
Arley choked back a sob and raised her eyes to the cabin beyond. And like a blind woman in search of sight, she began making her way, stumbling, towards pain and soul-release.
'Damn,' Mike muttered to the darkness. And again, 'Damn.'
Satu giggled. 'I hope the others couldn't hear us.'
'You kidding?' Mike rejoined, a broad smile in his voice. 'I bet they heard us all the way to Lighthouse Point!'
Satu made an inarticulate noise that was part mortification, part pure pleasure. 'I feel so ashamed! But . . . I can't stop laughing!'
'Shoosh! You're gonna wake up the kids.'
Satu stifled her laughter long enough to choke out, 'I don't care!'
Mike shook his head in the not-all-concealing dark.
Kiko wriggled with pleasure as she lay spoon-fashion with Jason in post-coital bliss, his arms comfortably and securely around her.
'I can't believe you were right!'
She smiled blissfully to herself. 'Toldja.'
'But . . . I don't get it! I thought for sure that Jack and your mom . . .'
'Think outside the box,' she intoned, and giggled. 'You left Arley out of the equation.'
Jason sighed, and gave her a squeeze. 'Okay, I give up. Me heart, you brain.'
'We soul . . .' Kiko said happily as they drifted off to sleep.
'You all right?'
Arley left off staring at the tropical-moon-limned night water bracketed by palm trees, her nude argent silhouette an outline of softness and pain and desirability, and came back to bed and to Jack's embrace.
She heaved a shuddering sigh and got comfortable once more.
'You haven't said a word all night. I was starting to get worried.'
'I'm . . . good,' she breathed, as though in awe and wonder that she could feel that way at all. 'I feel like . . . like I'm awake, for the first time in a very long time.'
Jack was silent a long time, thinking. And at last, 'Me too.'
'But I'm scared, Jack. If I let myself go . . . if I let myself go . . . I keep seeing these images, like my old self is hanging on to my hand, and I can't hold on any longer, and it's falling away into the dark . . . and I'm left a complete stranger . . . am I making any sense?'
'Not a complete stranger,' he told her. 'You're the same person, but changed, now. Growing. Moving on with your life. Letting go of the past.'
'You feel it too, then.'
'Yes.' He smiled. 'Good-bye, old Self.'
She, too, smiled. 'Yes, good-bye, my old Self. It's hard parting with you . . . but it's time.'
Alone in the dark, weeping bitterly, Yelina groped around until she found another stone, pried it loose, and hurled it out into the darkness of the bay. She listened for a moment, until she heard it plunk into the water.
'You were supposed to marry my mom!' she screamed brokenly into the darkness, weeping. 'You were supposed to marry my mom, and we were supposed to all live together!'
As the others lay asleep in their beds, oblivious to her pain, Yelina sat alone on the beach in her misery, huddled into herself, feeling herself falling into some dark place.