Today we have the final installment of my short story, “Seahorses Everywhere.” Thank you for following along these past few weeks. This was a fun quarantine project. Now back to making mosaic art and searching for quality toilet paper.
If you have missed out, links to volumes 1 – 8 are at the bottom. Be well, my friends.
After the show, Jeff drove Bernice to the Malibu coast to visit his friend Rachel, who lived in a house on a cliff by the water. Rachel greeted them warmly, an attractive middle-aged lady with billowing brown hair streaked with silver. After a round of margaritas, Rachel suggested they all go skinny-dipping. They jogged down the staircase leading to the shore and once on the sand, stripped off their garments. They dashed to the ocean and splashed around laughing in the nighttime tide.
Rachel headed back to the sand after awhile, gathered up her clothes and climbed the stairs to her cozy bungalow. She returned a few minutes later with a stack of towels.
“Please make yourselves at home, sleep wherever you’d like. I’m off to bed now. Good night, dears!”
They wrapped their towels around their dripping bodies and climbed the stairs back up to the house, carrying their clothes in bundles. Giggling, they padded through the kitchen into the living room where the floor-to-ceiling windows were wide open, sheer white curtains billowing in the warm breeze. Moonlight streamed in, illuminating their damp hair as they laid down on the oversized couch and intertwined their moist, sandy bodies for the night.
In the light of day, Jeff was penitent. He could barely bring himself to look Bernice in the eyes.
“I’m sorry. I had too much to drink. What happened last night shouldn’t have happened. Robert’s my friend. I’ve betrayed him,” Jeff said with a groan, hanging his head.
“It’s okay,” said Bernice, one hand rubbing Jeff’s back. “There wasn’t much relationship left to my relationship with Robert anymore,” startled to find herself saying aloud what she hadn’t been able to admit to herself before now.
But that did little to console Jeff. He silently drove her back to Sarah’s apartment where they said an awkward goodbye.
She called Robert later that day and left a message on the answering machine saying that she needed to stop by and pick up some things. She drove to their apartment, found it empty. She noticed an envelope addressed to her sitting on the kitchen counter. She opened it with some hesitancy, yet again startled by Robert’s uncommonly tidy penmanship. Her eyes blurred when she got to the line, “Jeff felt guilty and told me everything. How COULD you?!” She ran a finger over a reddish-brown smudge on the page.
Bernice loaded her Dodge Colt to capacity with clothes, books and vinyl records. Lastly, she lay her guitar on top and closed the hatchback’s door. The knot had swallowed her, was strangling her – had spread to her arms, legs and head.
Every end is a beginning. Every beginning is an end.
Several years have passed and Bernice is back in her hometown, Huntington Beach. She re-enrolled in college as a journalism major, got a job in an office as a data entry clerk. At work, she befriended a striking young lady named Jennifer. Jennifer had thick, long curly red hair and a trusting moonface with round brown eyes. Bernice still sports a bob haircut but likes to wear floral print mini-dresses paired with grungy ankle boots.
Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be…
Bernice and Jennifer were inseparable, often went to clubs to see live bands, where they would drink and dance well into the night. Bernice took some pride in her ability to smile and say “no” to any overly-charismatic, pretty boys who approached her.
“So I’m thinking about getting a tattoo, a cute little dolphin,” said Jennifer, as they ate lunch at their desks one day. “Want to come along and keep me company? The tattoo parlor I want to go to is in Newport Beach. We could get dinner afterward?”
“I’d love to,” Bernice said, unhesitating.
The next evening, they emerged together from the parlor – Jennifer with her sweet little dolphin, Bernice with a colorful seahorse on her left shoulder blade.
A note from the author – It is my pleasure to provide my work here for you, free of charge. If you’re enjoying my blog, please pop over to my Etsy shop where I sell my original mosaic artworks and consider buying something nice for yourself or a loved one. I’m chronically ill with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (III), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Mast Cell Disease and presently live with my elderly mother so your purchase would go a LONG way towards helping out our household. Thank you kindly! https://www.etsy.com/shop/MosaicsByLaCanfora
Clickable links to previous volumes of “Seahorses Everywhere”