The Star and the Ocean: Chapter Ten

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“I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain this to you all day. I realized it was easier to just show you.” Em grinned widely as if being airborne was the funniest thing that could be happening. “If you can handle this, the rest should be easy.”

But May wasn’t handling anything very well at the moment.

Em wasn’t sure what she had been expecting. Wonder? Excitement, perhaps? Whatever it was, she certainly hadn’t expected the look of terror on May’s face. The fear was so real, so visceral. Em quickly realized her approach perhaps hadn’t been as clever as she had first presumed.

Of course she’s afraid, Em thought, the weight of her miscalculation dropping like an anchor in her stomach. What the fuck was I thinking?

“What’s going on?” May’s voice was strained with confusion and panic.

Em was overcome with guilt; guilt for being the reason the light and playful curiosity in May’s eyes had been replaced with dread. It was stupid of her to think this virtual stranger would somehow easily accept a truth so surreal it would seem out of place even in a dream.

But she had felt something, hadn’t she? Something inside told Em she could be honest with this awkward little recluse of a woman. Besides, it was too late now. She would have to trust that May would come around. If not… Well, in that case her unexpected island vacation was about to be cut short.

“May,” Em spoke, coaxing gently for the second time in as many days. “I’m so sorry. Believe it or not, this seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“How are you doing that?” was May’s strangled reply. She covered her eyes, breathing rapidly. “I’m dreaming again, aren’t I?”

“Again? Have you been dreaming about me?” Em pried playfully, desperately hoping for a distraction.

But May didn’t speak again. She lowered her hands in front of her mouth, her eyes still wide and staring right into Em’s, but she didn’t say anything.

Em felt awful. Nothing was going according to plan.

“Okay,” she sighed. “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to go down here” – she motioned to the sandy beach beneath her – “and if you want to talk, I promise I’ll tell you anything you want to know. And if you don’t come down… Well, if you don’t come down I’ll take the hint. You won’t see me again, I swear.”

May clenched her hands in a white-knuckled knot in front of her chest. Still she said nothing.

Not good. Em was growing anxious.

Pushing back carefully, Em floated away from the deck. Her hair swirled around her. She held back as much of it as she could with one arm so it wouldn’t obscure the eye contact she held with May. Was it her imagination or had May’s gaze softened a bit? Em could have sworn she saw a spark of curiosity flare up amid the fear still swimming in the dark pools of May’s eyes.

It could have been wishful thinking, but it could have also been a step in the right direction.

Em gave May a weak smile before drifting downward Iike a stone cast into the ocean.

Once on the sand, Em breathed deeply until her glow dimmed. Hugging her arms around her middle she turned her eyes toward the deck and waited. Nervous as she was, that feeling of hope – trust, it whispered like a friend in her ear – still lingered.

***

May held it together better than most might. For starters, she didn’t scream. She also didn’t run back inside and lock the doors, although it was debatable whether or not that was due to bravery or simply because she was too scared to move.

Yes, she was scared. Terrified, even. How else was she supposed to feel at the sight of a human being suspended mid-air? Floating and glowing like some kind of ghost…

May paced tight little laps in her living room.

“What do I do?” she whispered to herself. “What is she?”

She wondered if she should run. It would be hard, but maybe she could climb out a window and into the branches of the tree. Could she get down to the ground without Em noticing?

“No, no, no!” She clutched at her head desperately.

There was no running from this.

She could wait. She could leave Em down on the sand until she realized that May wasn’t coming and left.

May looked toward the door. She imagined Em walking (or would she fly?) away and an absurd thought crossed her mind;

Would Em keep her promise?

Would she still say goodbye?

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