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Sophie's Promise

Waiting for change

By Joe LucaPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
3
Image by Pixabay

Sophie’s mind was elsewhere. Someplace dark and inhospitable, like a cave perhaps or the early hours before dawn, when there’s no guarantee that the sun will appear and the world will continue as it always has.

She was on an island as far from her home in London as her budget could manage. A hotel room that was nice enough without the frills she had wanted but couldn’t afford.

Without the views the online photographs had promised, but then this was not her first disappointment.

Being without for Sophie was like being left-handed. It came with her birth. It never left. It was never so imposing that it made life unbearable and never so far away that her view of things might change radically.

For change was uncomfortable. When life was precariously balanced on a straight edge, any deviation, any strong gust of wind or want might topple everything, and where would she be then.

No, change was best left to others. Best left to those endowed with hope and possibility.

****

The winds outside had picked up. The concierge had warned that there might be a little weather coming in that afternoon. How quaint, she had thought. Like it came neatly packaged and would be delivered as requested. Something planned and expected.

This was not. The fronds up high were dancing as the tall palm trees swayed from side to side, almost touching each other, teasing just a bit.

Her first-floor balcony gave her a splendid view of the beach, the toppled chairs and tables, a few guests rushing inside, hands on hats and an ocean that was roiling.

Unhappy and rushing toward her like a menacing beast. Slapping the beach in defiance, then retreating. Only to do it again moments later.

But Sophie’s mind wasn’t on the waves or the wind but miles away in a small flat in Tottenham, London. A place she had rented for over ten years. Her haven. Her small bit of comfort in a world she found unsettling with all its people. All at cross-purposes, trying desperately to find love and prosperity.

While she longed only for peace of mind. To live weeks perhaps longer without remembering. Without images of what had happened crashing into her present moments like a runaway truck.

Work soothed her. Gave her discipline. Being an actuarial accountant gave her numbers, worlds and worlds of numbers that she could bend and twist and elevate at will. Gave her power like no other part of her life and made her feel whole.

It also provided her with the unequivocal fact that she was a mess. A walking talking, nicely dressed, well-toned, and conditioned wreck of a person who careened elegantly from one personal disaster to another.

Who never found love or friendship beyond the casual warmth of a work colleague or a barista who knew her name, her preferences, and when she would arrive each day.

But it was alright. It kept her intact as she liked to put it. Not in pieces as her mother had been. Not in search of mythical beasts and Knights Templar who would whisk her away.

Sophie liked the space close to Earth. Feeling the ground beneath her feet and her head exactly where it was supposed to be, five feet eight inches above them.

High enough to get around easily but not too high that she might topple over one day and not be able to rise again.

****

The winds slammed a weathered chair hard against her sliding door, breaking her reverie and cracking the glass.

This was no longer a bit of weather coming ashore. This was a hurricane named Winnie or Bertram or some other silly name. Why would anyone want to give an identity to something that destroyed indiscriminately and then vanished was beyond her.

Statistically, it should have missed the island altogether. Statistically, her arrival should have put it well beyond her location and on its way to some other part of the Pacific. But there it was. And there she was, once again unsure, frightened, and alone.

Her mother had left her alone before, often. It was her way. Always busy, always flitting from one friend to another with Sophie left behind with a bag and a smile and yet another bewildered adult wondering what they would do with her.

It was a Saturday in August. Hot and Sunny. Her new companion named Beatrice. A cottage in the Cotswolds, pleasant really. Her mother had gone off to France, or was it Belgium?

She played in the garden with the dog. A Jack Terrier named Adolphus; though she never knew why. The hours passed. Lunch came and went. The sun dropped, the winds cooled and Sophie was feeling something unusual, a sense of contentment.

An ease of heart and mind as she ran her hands over the flowers. Watched the birds at the feeders and Adolphus walking at her feet. It was as it should be she had thought at the time. Yes, this was how things were meant to be.

The phone call came to Beatrice at 8:05 pm that night. Sophie was watching television with the dog at her side. The woman’s face had turned pale, her hand almost failing to grip the phone. She looked over at the little girl and she knew.

The plane or train her mother was on had crashed. It was all so sudden. Statistically speaking an almost impossible thing. But there it was. Her mother hadn’t suffered they said. It was incredibly unfortunate.

Sophie remembered petting Adolphus for hours while Beatrice walked the house muttering something about fate and bad luck. Then sleep came and breakfast with another taxi picking her up and taking her to a home. Somewhere nice where no one knew her and life would begin again.

“It’ll be alright dear,” Beatrice had told her as she was packed into the taxi. “You’re a good girl, you’ll find your way.”

****

The doors rattled in her room, so much so she hadn’t heard the knocking. The calls out to her.

"Madam are you in there, are you okay?"

But Sophie was far away from there now. She was walking toward the ocean.

The waves crashing. The memories spilling over themselves. The Cotswolds, the Jack Terrier, the lattes with the foamy image of a swan resting on top.

Her flat. Her numbers, swirling all around her. The neighbors saying hi, asking how she was doing.

The one boyfriend that cried when he said it was over. Not what he had expected. He would miss her.

Sophie’s feet met the ocean, pushing her back, then pulling her in. Deep into it she walked, forgetting the past. Forgetting the home with the sterile rooms and breakfast at 7 AM sharp.

The job she loved and maybe hated too. She had promised herself she wouldn’t waste her life like her mother had. She would make something of herself.

It was a promise she hadn’t kept.

****

The waters grew deeper, the land further away. The winds howling around her and drowning out her thoughts, and fears; she was finally ready for a change and to let go.

Sophie had never resisted anything in the past, people, rules, life moving slowly forward ignoring her most of the time. It was her way.

She was smart and well respected. Her humor subtle and dry and people appreciated her even when she didn’t. The world to her was an imposing place, best to blend in and be left alone.

To share spaces only when needed. To share confidences only when there was no alternative. Her life was best kept inside where she could control it. Where others couldn’t enter and she could exist alone.

The waters grew calmer the further she sank. Her eyes open, her head turning gently from side to side. She had never imagined the end would be pretty and comforting. The quiet covered her and she was finally at peace.

She smiled.

****

Then without warning two strong arms grabbed her and pulled her up.

She felt herself coughing. An arm wrapped itself around her neck and words shouted at her.

“It’ll be alright.”

Of course, it would, she thought – if he would just let her go.

“We’re almost there.”

With her feet finally touching the sand, she looked up at the stranger.

“You know what you’ve done, don’t you?”

“Saved your life?”

“Exactly,” she cried out as he walked her back to the hotel.

“And you know what that means?”

“No.”

“Well, neither do I. I guess we’ll find out.”

Then she smiled for the second time that day.

Psychological
3

About the Creator

Joe Luca

Writing is meant to be shared, so if you have a moment come visit, open a page and begin. Let me know what you like, what makes you laugh, what made you cry - just a little. And when you're done, tell a friend. Thanks and have a great day.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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