With all the stress of everything, I end up not waking up until later that afternoon. It’s almost three O’ clock by the time I start making my bed and I am surprised that Janice hasn’t already come knocking on my door. Maybe she was still sleeping as well.
I am proven wrong when I enter the family room an hour later and find Janice siting by herself in the dark. Well, as dark as it can be with the sun reaming in through the windows. She is wearing a gloomy expression as she sits in complete silence. She looks up at me as I approach her.
“Hey Liz,” she says, in a quiet tone. “Sleep well?”
“Slightly. Are you okay? You look really down.”
Janice shrugs. “It’s nothing.”
I frown. “Are you sure?”
Janice is silent for a moment longer and then she exhales deeply. “It’s stupid. I just checked my profile feed on Myplace and saw Greg and some…girl.”
My eyes widen. “What?”
“They weren’t kissing or anything. It was just them posing together, but still. It really, really bugged me.” Janice shakes her head. “I guess he really meant it when he said he wasn’t sure about us.”
I sit beside her. “I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how that would feel. Then again, with everything going on with me and Michael, maybe I soon will.”
I don’t realize I said this last part out loud until Janice suddenly gives me a look of shock.
“Huh?” she looks confused. “What are you talking about?”
There is then, a knock on the door, interrupting our conversation.
“Hey all!” Abby says a minute later, walking into the family room. I figure Elsie or Sandra must have let her in. “We got out a few hours later than expected, so I hope you don’t mind.”
Charls files in after her and then they both take seats on the couch to our right. Abby must have noticed we were talking about something serious, for she looks back and forth between the Janice and I and frowns.
“Everything okay?” she asks. “You two look pretty tense.”
Before Janice can open her mouth, I quickly but in. “Yes, we were just talking. Nothing serious.”
I can tell that Janice wants to press me more about what I had said a moment before, but thankfully, she lets it go.
Abby then recounts us on her day at the internship office and their current task for the next week.
“We are supposed to “immerse” ourselves in the Marina Beach culture and draw inspiration from what we see,” she was saying. “Our overall project is to design three outfit designs that rightfully depict the atmosphere of the city. They’ve split us into groups of three and the group with the most unique outfit designs, will be selected as the interns to work at Shika Fashions in Maurana City.”
“Wow, that sounds amazing,” I say with a grin.
“I know, right?” Abby looks thrilled as she snuggles into Charls arm. “Me getting the chance to work there and possibly share my sketches with top designer Marla Shyne? That would be amazing.”
Over the past two years, Abby had moved from her paintings -which she still did- to sketching dress designs on her sketchpad. She had improved greatly and with all her classes, it was no surprise that she had landed the summer fashion program that she is currently in. I really believe she could definitely become something great.
Charls grins. “I’ll bet you will do just that,” he says. “You are incredibly talented.”
Abby smiles and then leans over to give him a kiss, and for the next couple minutes they continue to do so.
I feel a bit uncomfortable, so I switch on the TV set sitting in front of Janice and I.
It is then that Janice lowers her shoulder in my direction. “Are you going to tell me what’s up with you and Michael?”
Ah. So, she had not forgotten.
“It’s nothing,” I say quickly, “I’m sorry I brought it up.”
“Come to think of it, you’ve barely even mentioned his name since you got here, which is very unlike you.” Janice frowns. “Is everything okay? You didn’t break up did you?”
“No! Of course not!”
I realize I must have said this too loudly, for Charls and Abby stop kissing and look over at me in surprise. Maybe I should have done that a minute ago.
“You okay, Liz?” Abby asks, and I nod.
“Yah, Janice and I were just talking about something.” I wave my hand. “We should probably go, right?”
Janice stares at me for a few seconds and then shrugs. “Sure. Let’s go.”
Just as we are leaving the family room, Sandra appears in her bathing suit and stops Janice. She seems very concerned about the weather.
“Just make sure you don’t take the boat out to the sea,” she says. “I heard there is a storm coming and I don’t want you to get caught up in it. They say it’s going to be a rough one.”
Janice rolls her eyes. “They always say that and it usually ends up being false.”
“I know, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. Just stay at the dock. It’s better safe than sorry.”
Janice seems irritated, but she agrees. We all then pile out through the front door. I however, pause when I see the most shocking thing out in front of me. A taxi has just pulled up by the curb and a familiar person emerges from it.
“Michael?” I think to myself. I am so stunned to see him that I practically stumble down the last few steps to Janice’s walkway. What is he doing here all the way in Marina Beach?
“Fancy seeing you here,” Abby says, greeting him. “Did Lizzie invite you?”
Michael is about to answer, but then he spots me. “Lizzie,” he says slowly.
I am still so dazed as I make my way to him. I am completely at a loss for words. I still can’t comprehend how Michael had gotten here, let alone found Janice’s house.
“W-what are you…H-how did you…”
“Get here?” Michael finishes. “Trust me, it’s a very complicated story, one that I can go into later. But first, we need to talk.”
I am still so shocked that I just stand gapping at him. My mind is not registering what I’m seeing.
“Lizzie, I’ve been trying get a hold of you for the past few days,” Michael continues. “I’ve called and left you quite a few messages. Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
“I mean, by the way you were acting on Friday and then you just leaving like that,” Michael shakes his head. “I wasn’t sure where we left things.”
“So, you-you came all the way here?”
“Well…yah. I tried to come see you at your parent’s house, but your dad said you had already left for Marina Beach and he didn’t know when you were coming back. I was, well, worried.”
“Awe! That’s so sweet!” Abby chimes from behind me. “But, what’s going on with you two?”
Michael shrugs. “I don’t know.” He then looks in my direction. “You tell me, Lizzie.”
I am still so flabbergasted by this whole situation. Here, I had just been thinking about how I am not ready to see or much less speak to Michael, and now here he is standing in front of me. My mind is twisting in a jumbled mess and I have no idea what to say to make the situation any less awkward.
Thankfully, Janice who had gone back inside to get her sunscreen, finally emerges from the front door.
“All right, everyone. Let’s load into the car.” She then frowns at Michael. “Hey, Mike. I’m a bit surprised to see you.”
“I’m sure. I came to see Lizzie.”
“Mmhmm.” Janice then walks over to the car. “Well, we should get going before it gets too late. Why don’t you come with us, Mike. You and Liz can talk on the boat.”
Though Michael tries to protest and keep him and I behind, Janice’s pushing gets him to come along. I am both happy and stressed about it. As happy as I am to see Michael, I also know I will have to explain myself for Friday night, something I am not ready to.
It’s a twenty-minute drive over to the boat dock. We then park the car and head down to the beach. My eyes widen as I see the display in front of me. This is no boat. It looks more like a mini-cruise ship! Janice seriously had kept a lot from us!
When we board the boat, Janice wastes no time in shooing Abby and Charls into another room, before leaving herself. I guess there was no getting out of this.
“So?” Michael says, when we are finally alone.
I sigh. “Michael, I just…I don’t really want to talk about this right now.”
Michael frowns. “Well, we have to Liz! I asked you to marry me on Friday, and not only did you turn me down, you said you didn’t know about us.” He gives me a look of hurt that tugs at my chest. “That’s why I’m here. I didn’t know where we left things. You just left and completely cut me off. That’s not like you.”
I raise my hands up slightly. “I-I don’t know what to say.”
“How about telling me what brought all this on? It’s not like we’ve never talked about marriage before. We have many times and it seemed like we were both on the same page. Unless you didn’t mean it.”
“No, I did.”
“Then what happened?”
I sigh in frustration. “I don’t know, life happened. My parents happened.”
“What do you-”
“They’re thinking of splitting up, and I just don’t know how I feel about marriage anymore.”
For a moment, I think I feel a lurch from the boat, but I soon forget. No way Janice would move us out into the sea. Not when Sandra suggested against it.
“Oh.” Michael blinks. “I’m sorry Lizzie, but what does that have to do with us?”
“It has to do with the fact, that I’m just not so sure about marriage anymore.”
“Just because of them?”
“I mean,” I run a hand through my hair. “Yes!”
“My parents have been together for over twenty years. They met their sophomore year of high school and have never been apart. Now, their splitting up. Them of all people!”
Michael sighs. “Lizzie, I get what you mean, but things like this happen with some people.”
“Not to them. They’re not like other people.”
“But Lizzie, they are. They’re human, and things like this happen. Parents divorce all the time.”
When he says those words, they cut me like knives. It’s as if someone has stabbed me in the chest. I feel tears coming to my eyes, but I do everything I can to hold them back.
“The point is, I don’t know how I feel about marriage right now,” I say finally, “and as long as I feel this way, I can’t marry you.”
“Lizzie,” Michael starts, but I hold up my hand.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
Michael scoffs. “You can’t just break off our conversation just because-”
We both look over and see Abby coming up the stairs from below. “Is it just me, or do you feel the boat moving?”
“You do,” says Janice, walking in from the deck. “It’s because we’re out on the water.”
I frown. “Didn’t Sandra say that there was a storm on the horizon? And a bad one?”
Janice waves her hand. “Don’t worry about that. They always say that.”
“Really?” Abby tilts her head to the side. “Then why do I see some storm clouds in the sky over there?”
Janice turns and looks a bit surprised. “That’s weird.” She then shrugs. “No matter. The boat is on auto-pilot, so it should steer us away from it and back to the port.”
Janice then glances behind again and frowns. “Then again, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious…”
She wonders back onto the deck and to the steering wheel. Her words have now caught my attention along with Michael’s, and soon all three of us are watching Janice anxiously. It would seem that the boat was steering closer and closer to the storms clouds and also, the boat was starting to lurch a bit more. Something was wrong…
“Janice,” Abby calls uncomfortably, and then that’s when the boat begins to rock. We are all thrown to the floor and some items on the shelf fall from above.
“What’s going on?” I yell to Janice.
“The auto-pilot is malfunctioning!” Janice yells back. “It’s driving us straight into the storm!
My eyes largen. “What!”
“I can’t seem to get it to change it back to manual!”
In shock, I rise to my feel and rush over to Janice. She is doing her best to turn the boat around, but to no avail. I desperately try to help her, as well as Michael and Charls -who has suddenly appeared-, but we all have no luck. There seems to be nothing we can do to stop it.
But it seems the worst isn’t over. As the boat rocks roughly from side to side in the now incredibly foggy water, the waves began to increase their volume. Slowly, it is reaching the top of the deck; the exact place where we are all standing! Just as I am about to announce that we should go back inside, a tall wave rises in front of us. My heart seems to catch in my chest and I let out a loud scream. I then feel someone wrap their arms around me as the wave lands right on top of us.
I feel my body twist through the air as I am pulled from the boat and into the water below. I am then soaked deeply as I whirl though the icy cold water around me. As hard as I try to hold onto the body beside me, I am ripped from it and go spiraling in the opposite direction. I immediately begin flailing my arms, desperately trying to reach the surface. I nearly run out of breath when my head finally emerges from the depths below. All around me is darkness, as the waves carry me along roughly. I do my best to stay afloat as I call out to Michael, Janice, Abby and Charls, but I hear no response from them.
I don’t know how long I float like that, but soon, everything slowly starts to fade to black…