The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes

Janel Atwork

ouch it", he ordered her. Then again, more gently, "touch it. It won’t bite. Trust me."
And she did trust him. But could she do it? The starfish was lying there, in front of her, just beneath the water. Attached to the rocks, beautiful, perfect and alive. That was the reason she couldn’t touch it, it was alive.

What if it stung her? Bit her? Did starfish bite? She didn’t know, but they must do something. Maybe it would be sharp, pierce her skin. Were they razor sharp, those points covering its surface?
"Just touch it", he said again, smiling, encouraging her. "Or the sea anemone. Touch that, here, put your finger here. See how it closes when you prod it."

Never. She recoiled in fright, sick in her stomach. More live creatures, moving, re-acting. She couldn’t even stroke a cat or touch a dog – animals were filthy, covered in fleas, germs or worse.
She stood, motionless, the waves gently lapping at her thighs. The sun was shining. It was a perfect day. And he was with her. That made everything perfect. How long had they waited for that day. How much had they been through to get here.

Last night, before they had met again, she had still felt the panic, the guilt, even a slight hope that she would see him and it would be different. She would be able to walk away and return to her stable, secure life, without causing the devastation she knew was ahead if this continued.

Then he’d walked into the bar and in an instant she knew it was pointless. She couldn’t stop this. She didn’t want to. She came alive when she was with him, and he with her. They fed from each other, making each one complete.

Now, here he was, standing beside her in the ocean, smiling, his eyes twinkling in the sun and she had never felt so loved. Ahead of them was pain and anguish. They would hurt people they loved. They would lose friends and family. The guilt would almost destroy them. But they would survive because they had no choice, they had to do this.

In that moment, she looked into his eyes and saw in his heart. He loved her, adored her and she trusted him completely. He would never hurt her or put her in danger. Smiling, she held out her hand. Tentatively at first, she reached under the surface towards the rocks.The fear was still there, but she could overcome it. He made her stronger. She was protected. Slowly, with him beside her, she moved forward. She could smell the salt in the air, feel the waves against her, the sun on her face and the strength he gave her. She loved him with every fibre of her being, and knew this was right.
She touched the starfish and her life changed for ever.

© Janel Atwork Sept 2006

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