Today’s Friday Flash Fics shot made me think of “Time & Tide.” That story is set in my fictional town of Fuca, British Columbia, where some of the families have a connection to various elements, and it first appeared in The Touch of the Sea. So I thought revisiting the fellows a little while after the events in the story was in order.
He’s staring out at the ocean again.
I know I shouldn’t worry, but it’s hard not to. I mean, given what happened with his mother, and who he is, I guess worrying isn’t completely out of the question, but he swore the ocean hasn’t called to him since he decided to stay in Fuca, and I believe him.
So, it’s not that I’m worried the ocean will take him. Really.
It’s more that I don’t know what the ocean is saying to him now.
It’s easy to put a smile in place, though, and it’s not even false. Because he’s here. He’s staying here.
“Hey you,” I said.
Dylan turns, and a ghost of something passes over his face for just a second. I know he’s been crying, but I don’t think he’s upset or sad.
Even though we’re close to the water, I reach out and take his hand.
As usual, the sea reacts. The next wave splashes up high at us, even though it crests gently everywhere else along the beach. Dylan laughs, and that’s when I feel it, too.
That splash—the ocean—it felt different.
Not painful, not willful, not even pleading.
The next wave comes in, and Dylan wraps his arm around me before I can pull away. I throw my own arm around his neck.
When the ocean touches our feet it sprays up at us, a jet of water.
That’s it. That’s the difference.
“That’s new,” I say.
“I think we’ve come to an understanding,” Dylan says. He kisses my forehead.
The next wave barely splashes at all. In fact, it almost feels like a loving squeeze around my ankles. Closer to what I feel from rivers, which speak to me the same way the ocean speaks to Dylan.
“I like this understanding,” I say.
“Yeah.” Dylan squeezes me, too. “So. My agent thinks the sundial piece is worth recreating, in multiple towns.”
“Of course she does.” I try not to be too harsh about her. She’s kind of a force of nature, and Dylan’s successes are in some ways owed to her. “But if it means travel, I hope you told her it would have to wait.”
“I did. But it doesn’t. I can work from here. Also, there’s a little gallery all the way in Ottawa that she knows. Features queer artists, she said. I could work some pieces for them, too.” He grins down at me. “Apparently? She was nervous I’d get all settled and content and never sculpt again.”
“Someone needs to tell her artists don’t have to be tortured.”
“I don’t know. You’re still trying to get me to cut down on coffee.”
“It’s not in the hundred-mile diet.”
We stand in silence for a little while. The ocean strokes our feet.
“I’m just kidding about the coffee.” I bump my shoulder against his. “You know that, right?”
“I know.” He smiles.
We head back to our new home.
Behind us, the ocean says something to him that I can’t quite hear. Ahead, though, I can feel the river as it leads to the strait, like little shivers of happy laughter.
It feels like that a lot these days.