It was early October. Not exactly beach weather. But there I was alone, sobbing as I huddled under a tattered beach towel that had waited in the trunk of my car for this moment to arrive. I felt the coolness of the damp sand on my bare feet as I sat wallowing in my misery yet relishing the fresh smell of the ocean that had lured so many in to life-altering adventures.
Is there an adventure here for me? I wondered.
Waves crashed on the shore. Their salty spray coated my once perfectly coiffed hair and soaked my meticulously made-up face. I felt as if I were melting. But I didn’t care. I needed to wash away my façade.
I pondered the events and emotions that had driven me to the beach. After a victorious week of business dealings in the city that never sleeps, I should have headed home to my penthouse apartment for a much-deserved glass of wine and a relaxing soak in my Jacuzzi® from which I would admire my kingdom and plot my next conquest. But no one, not even a loving, unforgiving pet, waited for me at home.
So I whizzed toward Long Island in my beautiful success symbol—a Jaguar convertible— singing at the top of my lungs, “New York, New York. If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to me New York, New York.” The wind tousled my hair as my prized successes whirled through my head. I heard my mother’s voice as clear as if she were sitting next to me. “A career is nice, but you can’t cuddle up with your job at night.” I hate it when she’s right about the things I resist most. Still I sped toward the comfort I so desperately needed— a comfort I knew so well. Blessed solitude.
The ocean’s pounding waves and refreshing sea breeze called to me as I made a beeline toward the shore. I felt the need to cleanse my soul of the sins I’d committed as a big player with the big boys of corporate America.
I’d made grown, powerful men cry.
I was it. I was the bitch they all loved to love and loved to hate.
I basked in the glory of my power and brilliance. In fact, I reveled in it. I’d challenged Goliath and scored a mega-million-dollar account. I was a big deal in the world of big dealers. I’d made a name for myself, so to speak. Wasn’t that what an independent, well-educated woman was supposed to aspire to rather than the perfect husband, 2.5 kids, and the cute well-kept house surrounded by a white picket fence?
The vastness of the ocean put my life in perspective. I was powerless and small. In other words, I was insignificant. I sobbed myself into exhaustion. A feeling of emptiness overcame me. “Who the hell am I?” I mumbled. “I don’t know me anymore. I’ve become a person I wouldn’t want to know. This isn’t what I wished for.”
Or was it?
As a little girl, I’d fantasized about being a powerful princess who grew into a commanding queen. With my imaginary sword in hand, I’d yell, “Off with your head,” as I pretended to lop off the heads of the people in my life who’d stifled me. And there were many—my mother, my father, my older brother, my teachers, my classmates, my dance instructor, my gymnastics coach, and my piano teacher, to name a few. I’d annoyed every one of them with my ability to be the perfect failure at everything. But today I was the queen with a capital Q. I ruled my world. I had the power to create and to destroy. I’d proven I wasn’t a failure. And I’d done it with such ease.
A huge wave broke over me. I didn’t move to safety. I sat there as shocking words escaped my lips. “I wish I were dead,” I screamed.
Darkness shrouded the sun. Lightning ricocheted off the water and danced along the clouds. Thunder clapped. It started to rain. But it didn’t matter. I was already soaked to my core with sea spray and tears. So I allowed the surf to wash over me. Suddenly I was spinning within a wave. I could feel the cold water engulf me as it tossed me like a rag doll and pulled me out to sea. I held my breath and tried to get my head above water. I was in the throes of life or death.
For a moment, I didn’t know whether to fight for life or give in to death. I chose to fight. Just when I couldn’t hold my breath any longer, I popped to the surface. As I took a deep life-saving breath, another strong wave slapped me in my face. I tasted the salt water and felt it fill my lungs.
A sense of peace washed over me.
I was drowning.
I was dying.
My wish had come true.
Copyright© 2018 by JM Hughson