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They Whispered of Mangoes

by Meredith Bell about a year ago in Short Story

Wholeness on the horizon

They Whispered of Mangoes
Photo by Michael Olsen on Unsplash

"Celeste..."

Yes, I hear you. Where are you?

The alabaster sand is hot, like the moment you pull out laundry from the dryer—that snuggling, soothing warmth. The sand is so soft that it feels like silk against my soles. Free of grit and cigarette butts—pristine.

I wriggle my toes, burrowing my feet deeper into the pillowy luxury. The warmth from the sand radiates up my legs and settles in my belly.

Calm.

Overhead, golden rays of dazzling sunlight warm my scalp, my arms, my chest. The kind of heat that permeates my soul and melts any trace of cold or fear or loneliness.

The sun caresses my face gently, lovingly—reminding me what genuine warmth can feel like.

Peaceful.

A light, salty breeze plays with my short, blonde curls. The air is raw, fresh, tangy. I inhale deeply, letting the sharp brine and crisp sea-green swirl around my lungs—the freshness spins a rejuvenating chrysalis in my chest.

Vibrant.

Glittering ripples of sunlight bounce off the cerulean waves. I squint, scanning the horizon, flexing my feet deeper into the plush sand.

There! I finally spotted it! The bright orange sails almost look like kumquats bobbing in the ocean. The ship on the horizon is so far away. Did I miss them? Are they heading this way?

I kick the sand—delicate particles forcefully spraying into the air.

Worry.

This island is fine, but it's not my final destination. I'm supposed to be on that ship.

Didn't they tell me that the beaches are even softer on that island? Didn't they say that it's teeming with lush green vegetation—shiny palm fronds gently swaying in canopies?

They told me that the aquamarine waters are always warm, like stepping into a soothing bath—gentle waves lapping at my ribs, splashing across my thighs, water cradling my back, my head tenderly embraced by the ocean.

Weightless.

They told me that all you can hear are the rush and claps of waves, the swoon and lilt of birdsong, the upbeat chittering of monkeys. That the breeze tastes salty, and the fruit tastes sweet.

I'm supposed to be on that island, not this one. That ship will carry me to wholeness. I can be whole once I'm there.

Whole.

I raise my arms above my head, frantically waving them in a giant yet steady arc. Can the ship see me? They have to know they left me behind. They'll come back to me. They'll turn around. They will. They will. They will.

Hopeless.

Lightness and warmth are replaced with dread. Heavy with defeat, I collapse in the sand. Frothy waves nip my thighs, the water staining the white sand beige. I just stare at the faint orange sails of the faraway ship. The sails now only just peach specks—barely visible amongst the clouds billowing on the horizon.

Forgotten.

A sharp pinch in my arm makes me wince. I tense. The sunny blue sky bleeds into the sea. The clear waves melt into the sand. The powder-white beach dissolves from view. Everything is fading. Dissipating. Evaporating.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no—not again.

Please.

Please sail back to me.

Please.

My head feels like cement. My thoughts are foggy, vague. The taste of metal punctuates my mouth—my tongue a thick, lifeless slab.

"Celeste?"

Yes, I hear you. But I can't see you.

My eyes are heavy, syrupy. Blurry figures crowd my vision.

Did they come back for me?

I squint. Harsh, buzzing fluorescent lights replaced the sun. Muted cream walls blocked out my sea. I wiggle my toes—only stiff, scratchy sheets graze my skin. The salty sea breeze is gone. Now all I breathe is sterile.

Stale.

Sounds and words echo against my eardrums—not responding to medication—as if I'm underwater—third attempt—drowning and gasping for air—72-hour hold.

My eyes focus, and I look down. My thin body swims in a faded, drab gray hospital gown. The padded restraints are tight on my forearms. My left wrist throbs. Hot.

Please.

Please let me get on that ship.

Please, just let me go.

Please.

Just let me go.

Short Story

About the author

Meredith Bell

Hopeful Polyglot | Stagnant Artist | Buoyant Traveler | Perpetually Silly

I dabble in words that hopefully evoke some kinda feeling in you.

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