You stared into the flickering flames and sighed contentedly. A blanket of dazzling stars shone above us and aside from the crackle of the fire there was nothing to distract us from us. It was sweet spending the night just you and I together out on the wide-open beach, not another soul for a mile or more. A bottle of Champaign lay empty just outside the circle of light and warmth. Our glasses, a sip left in each were half buried in the soft sand.
“Let’s go swimming,” you suddenly suggested.
Although the moon was weak and the ocean a dark expanse I could hear the soft crash of the waves, distant and yet not so far away. Those very waves called to me as I am sure they called you closer, promising fun and an undertone of naughtiness. Before I could respond you had already jumped up and then you were off at a run. Half stumbling, jiggling, and jostling through the soft sand, you shredded first your shirt and then those terrible lime green shorts I keep asking you not to wear. I could no longer see you then, but I knew you were down to your skin alone, not a stitch on, both ready and eager.
“Hey! Wait up!” I called and then I was up too and chasing after you.
I tossed away that towel you let me borrow and then struggled firstly with that pair of skinny jeans you liked and then with the shoulder straps of my one piece swimsuit. It was not easy to strip and run but somehow, I made it to the edge of the water just as I heard you dive under. The water was cold even though the onshore breeze was warm on my skin. I knew I could cope with a little chill from the ocean’s embrace for somewhere in that blackness there was your warmth and that mischievous smile. I think the drink had gone to both our heads. I’d never known you to be so spontaneous in the months we had been going out. This different side of you brought the adventurousness in my character out strong, full forced.
I followed the sound of splashing, your clumsy strokes taking you further from shore and guiding me in the same direction. You had professed early on that you were not the strongest swimmer so I knew you would never venture too far or too deep. While the water was up to my waist, I chose to take a moment to look back over my bare shoulder. I could see the trail of our clothes that lead a path back to the fire. For a moment I thought of the silliness of a midnight swim and just how nice it would have been to return to that circle of warmth and snuggle together in that sleeping bag for two, just like we had the night before.
“Hey!” you called out then and tried to splash in my direction.
“Polo!” I called back as my eyes turned away from the safety of the shore.
“Marco?” you replied and then followed up with that laugh I loved so much.
I swam out towards the sound of you and soon found your waiting arms. Your deepest smooch amongst other things showed you were very happy to have me there. Kissing led to touching and then exploring.
“I love the way the moonlight reflects off your amazing breasts,” you oozed.
I wondered whether to kiss you or slap you after a comment like that.
Before I could decide you suddenly went under.
“Tom?” I cried then, unsure if you were playing, deep down knowing you weren’t.
I dived under, searching but the moonlight was not bright enough to help me penetrate the dark blanket of the ocean. In that complete blackness I felt something large and slimy wrap around my bare legs and make its way almost seductively toward my hip. Disgusted I kicked out and swam upwards, quickly breaking the surface. I took in five quick, deep breaths, almost hyperventilating. That which held me didn’t let go. I kicked again and again until finally I felt my legs released. Your handsome face broke through the surface and I heard your panic as you gasped for air.
“Tom!” I cried out again.
You tried to reach out and grab me, but I was just out of reach. Your eyes, normally so soft and sweet were wide then. I had never seen you afraid until that moment, that very moment we both knew you were going to die.
Just before you were pulled under again you whispered my name.
“Get to shore,” you said. “Call for help.”
I was of two minds. Still hoping I could save you I wanted to dive under again. Knowing the danger and the futility of such a foolish gesture I also realized your idea was the only logical option. With such an insane scenario playing out before my eyes’ logic was not high on my agenda. Under I went again, determined to find you and to pull you free. That time the creature hugged me like you did, tight, close, a lovers’ comfortable embrace. That time it was you who kicked out, struck the body of the creature which pulled us both under. Its tentacles weakened their grip on me. Another kick from you but this time it was one that pushed me away. There was a cloud of black and then a sudden feeling that you were gone. I had become alone in the water. A romantic, foolish gesture had become a scene of horrific, shocking loss.
I paddled for shore, tears dribbling down my face and mixing with the salty sea. A mere drop in the ocean of my torment; guilt mixed with sorrow mixed with disbelief. Through my shock I saw differently the path of our clothing that lead back to the warmth of the crackling fire you had built. Shivering I watched those flames for a moment before remembering your request. My phone took forever to find and once I did locate it in the back pocket of my jeans it took longer still for my shaking hands to make the call.
They found me naked, staring out to sea. I was hoping that it would all prove to be a silly hoax and that any moment you would walk out from the waves back to me.
They never did find your body. Afraid of what fate awaited me I never swam again. I miss you still, will miss you always. I will miss you forever, my Tom.
Timothy Law is a writer of fantasy, horror, detective and general fiction from a little town in Southern Australia called Murray Bridge. A happily married father of three children, family is very important to him. Currently working at the Murray Bridge Library in the role of Library Manager he has dreamed since his early high school years of becoming a fulltime author. Working for a library, surrounded by so many wonderful authors it is difficult not to be inspired to write. Many of his short stories and general musings can be found on his blog - There Are Some Who Call Me... Tim! or on the Parenting Express website.