A young couple desperately tries to cling to their fraying sanity and delusions.
| "Boiled seaweed."
"Boiled seaweed garnished with roasted seashells. I would have used the baby crab, but it bit me and I had to toss it away."
She gives him a brilliant smile and flounces away, the once flaming red couture gown now a faded pink. It's in tatters now and flutters around her slender figure like gossamer wings. There's the tantalizing view of the swell of a breast as she bends to pick up something from the white sand. Her long black hair, now matted and stiff with a mixture of sand, salt and sun, hides her features for a moment and he finds he is almost grateful for it. Looking at her would only remind him of his failures.
He stares at the soggy mess before him. Boiled seaweed, she had said. Roasted seashells as garnish. He would laugh if there was anything funny about it, but he was somehow sure he would never be able to do that again. The last time he had laughed it was a hysterical sound - one of a man almost driven to the brink of madness. It was laughter borne out of necessity at the discovery that they had survived through it all. Yes, they had made it out of the wreck alive. They were survivors.
And yet what good had come out of it?
"Come here, little crabby. Come here, little crabby."
He winces at the childlike voice, flinches at her high-pitched laughter and groans as she falls to the sand and kicks up her legs like a newborn babe. Looking at her now, it's hard to think she had once been able to launch a million wet dreams or that she had been sought after by fashion designers and photographers all over the world.
He moans and holds his head in his hands. Oh, what had he gotten them into?
"Aren't you hungry?"
He stiffens, unaware she had moved so quickly. It's one of the disadvantages of being surrounded by sand. You never know who might sneak up on you at anytime.
"I put so much time and effort into making that!" she suddenly screeches and he has to cover his ears for he knows what's coming next. He lets her scream. He lets her yell. He lets her gnash her teeth and tear her hair. It's the only thing she can do now. It's the only thing she's got.
He finally lowers his hands and lifts his gaze. Her face is flushed, those dark blue eyes ablaze with unrestrained fury. Her lips are pressed tightly together only to open in a snarl before she spits on him. He suffers the rude gesture and wipes his cheek, biting his lower lip hard to control himself. The last time he raised his voice at her, she had disappeared for an entire day. He had assumed she tried to swim away or had drowned but his fears had been put to rest when she came wandering back to him...with a dead and rotten seagull in her hands.
That was when he began to worry.
Now she sits before him and crosses her legs, her posture erect like a school teacher admonishing a wayward student. "Eat," she commands. "Eat. Damn you!"
Swallowing tightly, he picks up a blade of seaweed which is still wet from the sea, dark green with flecks of sand upon - a laughable attempt at seasoning. He gives her a pleading look, but she's adamant, her features tight with impatience. Eat! It says. You got me into this mess, so you'll eat every damn thing I give you!
He closes his eyes and stuffs the repulsive plant into his mouth. He chews rapidly, feeling the spongy sensation on his tongue, the bitter juices that seep between his teeth, the crunching sound of sand and a seashell or a pebble, he's not sure which, as he forces himself to enjoy this feast. He tries to swallow but feels it rising back up again. He slaps a hand over his mouth to keep it down and after a monumental effort; it slides down his abused esophagus and into his stomach where it churns in revulsion.
Oh, how he hates her.
"Keep eating," she demands and he can do nothing but comply. Bite after painful bite, he forces himself to go through the ritual until nothing's left but the plate - a flat piece of driftwood - and his dignity. He rises to his feet, nearly tripping over himself in the process.
"Where are you going?" she queries, her eyes watchful and wary.
"To relieve myself," he replies. "Am I allowed to do that at least?"
Their gazes remained locked - hers still watchful and wary, his guarded and cold. She dismisses him with a toss of her hair and crawls away on her hands and knees, already hunting for a crab to play with. Perhaps she will make him eat a live one tonight. She would love to see him bleed.
He staggers away from the sight, tries to run into the welcome but small cluster of trees but doesn't quite make it. He falls to his knees and vomits helplessly, giving up everything he has consumed in the past few days until he can give no more. He groans and lies on the cool sand, body trembling uncontrollably, mouth now sour with the aftertaste. He stares into the azure skies, blinking rapidly as the sun's rays almost blind him. It's becoming painful just to do that these days but then again, the days and nights no longer matter to him. He has long given up count of how long they've been out here, away from civilization and all things sane.
Sometimes he wonders if he's losing his mind and isn't surprised to find himself forgetting several things from the life he had once had. There are a few things he still knows. He knows that she's a model and he a fashion photographer.
But...where had they met? At a party? A photo shoot? A restaurant? He doesn't remember.
What had attracted him to her? Her eyes? Her body? Her personality? Everything? He cannot remember any of that either.
But they are together, that much is true. He knows she makes more money than he does and yet she is willing to do whatever he wants. They loved each other, so they had gotten married...where? At a church? A synagogue? City Hall? The beach? Yes...it must have been at the beach. He thinks he can remember how beautiful she had looked in her wedding gown - a simple white dress, her bare feet on the white sand, her thick long hair in waves and festooned with flowers. He thinks he fell in love with her again and feels that she was just as enamored with him.
"When did things go wrong?" he whispers and promptly bites back a scream as his stomach muscles cramp in retaliation. He curls into a fetal position and tries to call her name only to blink in confusion for he realizes he doesn't remember that either.
It was something exotic, wasn't it?
"Woman," he finally croaks. He has given up trying to think about it for it gives him a pounding headache. "Help me, woman."
But he knows it's all a waste of time. She will never hear him and even if she does, she will never come.
He drifts in and out of consciousness and bears the pain as much as he can. He's not sure of how long he must have passed out, but when he opens his eyes, the stars have filled the night sky. He sits up slowly and looks out to the beach, wondering if she's still out there frolicking in the sand. It annoys him sometimes, how easily she can dismiss things. Perhaps if she would listen to him, they would have found a way off this island. But since they've been here -
He spits and wipes his mouth, gets to his feet and stumbles down to the beach. He is a tall man in his early thirties. He can be considered handsome if you ignore the matted beard and shaggy black hair. He stops where sand and water meet, barely feeling the cool waves brush against his toes. There is no sign of her...again, and he finds that he's not that surprised. She tends to disappear at night, only showing up the next morning with some dead creature as a morbid offering of sorts. He thanks his lucky stars she hasn't made him eat any of them yet. If things eventually come to that, he's not sure he'll be able to control himself.
He walks along the beach and tries not to stare at the sea. It seems to mock him, the vastness, the horizon. He can't remember how many times he's cursed it, screamed at it until his throat muscles protested. He thinks he must have tried swimming out once, to swim until he could swim no more and yet it had mocked him with each pathetic attempt.
He walks along the beach; hands within the pockets of what had once been black pants made of the finest material money could buy. He knows he will arrive at his starting point soon, for the island is roughly the size of two football fields. In the middle sits a clump of palm trees, as if God had taken pity on the small patch of land and planted the foliage as an afterthought. Not much can live in here and yet he wonders how she manages to find such weird animals.
He walks along the beach and comes to a sudden halt. His eyes widening as the memories come rushing back. Now he remembers! How they got here! Why they got here!
The headlines had blared with the damning news.
Supermodel caught smoking crack at local night club. Supermodel arrested for possession of illegal drugs.
He was shocked and appalled at the discovery. He had wanted to file for a divorce. She had begged him not to. She had promised to change, to turn over a new leaf. But he had known that she was lying to him. They were all empty promises for although her lips moved, her eyes had held no expression of love or warmth for him. He wanted out of their relationship and had made plans to go ahead with their separation, but that was when -
He holds his head within his hands and gives a loud cry of dismay. He begins to tear at his hair, eyes now wild with fury as he glares towards the island.
"Come out!" he bellows. "Come out, you bitch! You did this, didn't you?! You brought me here, didn't you?! You...!"
The words falter as a low gurgling sound escapes his throat. A searing white heat races up his spine as he stares, in disbelief, at the sharpened stick protruding from his stomach. He can feel her slender body behind him, her warm breath against his cheek. His vision grows cloudy and now the pain comes, blinding and mind-numbing. He tries to move and she twists deeper, her soft laughter filling his mind in an endless and incessant loop.
"I begged you not to leave me," she whispers. "I promised you I would change and you wouldn't believe me."
He tries to reply but cannot find the words. Heavy drops of his blood stain the tattered remains of his once pristine dress shirt. He can almost hear the ‘plop' sound they make as they fall to the sand beneath their feet.
"Isn't this island beautiful?" she croons and wraps her arms around his waist, holding him tightly to her body which feels a bit too cold to him. "I wanted us to come here on our honeymoon but we were both so busy with photo shoots and fashion shows...we didn't have any time to ourselves."
He feels her shudder against him, her head growing heavier on his shoulder. He feels a strange warmth seeping into his shirt and he's not sure why. He only knows that this pain which seems to be seeping into his heart is unbearable. Oh, so unbearable.
"I didn't want you to leave me," she whispers, her voice a bit slurred, her long hair brushing against his bare arms, tickling his chin and cheek. It's no longer as thick and luxurious as it had been and the pungent smell of rotten meat and seaweed makes him nauseated.
"You didn't..." he tries to say.
"I had to take you away with me. Don't you understand?" she pleads. "I wanted us to escape all those accusing eyes. They...everyone...they were laughing at us. Your pictures weren't selling as much..."
"...you developed a drinking problem..."
All lies. He wishes she would shut up.
"...then you got involved with that bastard, Richard, who got you all mixed up in that embezzlement scheme...oh, Tony...I wanted us to get away from it all. Don't you understand?"
Why, he wonders. Why does she spout all these lies? And yet -
"I did it for us, Tony. Don't you see? The wreck was all my fault. I destroyed the boat because we wouldn't need it anymore. On this island, no one would know us. We would be free from all those accusing eyes, free from them..."
His feet finally give way and he falls to the ground. He expects her to let go, but is hardly surprised to find that she's still attached to him. He tries to swallow and winces at the metallic taste of his blood. He can feel her body shudder against him again and he knows what she has done.
With some effort, he lifts his head and stares at the ocean, its vastness, its horizon mocking them yet again. He licks his lips and tastes his tears, wanting to scream at how unfair this is. He had only wanted the best for them. That was all really. He had only done it because he loved her too much. He didn't want her to know just how much of a failure he had been. It wouldn't be fair to her.
He is aware that he has no time left, but before he goes, there is one thing he has to know. Something that's been bothering him for quite some time.
"Tell me," he whispers. "Tell me...who are you?"
For a moment, he is sure she will give no answer but then, and in a breathless voice which gets lost in the wind, she finally tells him what he must have always known.
"I am your Conscience, Tony, and I will always be with you...until your final breath."
"Tragic story, isn't it?" the man says over his cup of coffee.
"Yes, it is. And they were such a young couple too. What a shame."
He tosses the newspaper upon the park bench and holds out an arm for his date and as they walk away, a slight breeze causes its pages to flutter a little. The headline seems to glare beneath the blazing sun, inviting curious onlookers to read its contents.
‘Supermodel Found Dead in Apartment. Photographer Husband Reported Missing.'
Notes: So far, most comments I have received tend to interpret the story in many different ways. . I will only say that the events that took place on the beach, is not all that it seems. This is my first attempt at mystery/suspense. So I hope that the story left you guessing. Thanks for reading!