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  • Olivia Moore

Brighton ~ Chapter 5 ~ Web Series

Updated: Mar 4








Chapter 5: Though We are Strangers


The sound of seagulls filled the air around us alongside the soft crash of the waves against the pebbled shore. Blue stretched across the horizon from every direction, and the warm sun christened my cheeks as I smiled from ear to ear. The sound of a little girl’s laughter seemed to echo all around. I realized then that it was my laughter, and I was the little girl. A soft warm hand grasped mine pulling my attention away from any self-awareness. The softness of their grasp sent warm and fuzzy feelings to my chest; this was safe. This was home.

Grandpa’s eyes crinkled as he smiled down at me, the warm glow from the sun cascading around his silhouette. With his other hand he pointed out at the sea, nodding gently for my gaze to follow. Out across the ocean, far in the distance, sprays of whales flew high into the sky. I could see the immaculate tail fin of one of them rise above the waves and come crashing down again. My child-like laughter echoed once more, and I looked to Grandpa to find him already looking at me with a small smile on his lips, as if my joy was more wonderful than anything else.


He opened his mouth as if he was speaking, but I could hear no words.


“Grandpa…,” I could hear my own voice, my adult voice.


His mouth kept moving, though no sounds came out. The warm glow that gently caressed his features before began to engulf him, his face becoming a mix of shadow and sun rays. Soon I couldn’t see him at all, and the soft wrinkled hand that once held mine was cold, speckled, and all too thin.


“Grandpa!” I screamed, reaching frantically for his hand with both of mine only to come up empty. The gulls were gone. The sea was gone. The warmth was gone. Grandpa was gone.


 

#


 

My own gasp woke me in the dead of night as I shot up in bed. My cheeks were wet from tears shed during sleep, and I was surrounded in a puddle of my own cold sweat. The moon shone through the crack of the curtains of the nearby window, lighting the picture of Grandpa and me as a child on his nightstand. I quickly flipped it face down and got out of bed to rinse the sweat from my chest and neck. My reflection, a gaunt looking pale woman who stared back at me with shadow rimmed eyes, had seen better days. I needed some air pronto.


Wrapping myself in my knit cardigan, I slipped on my sandals and found my way out onto Grandpa’s deck. The crisp air stung my face and legs, but I just inhaled a sharp breath of it, trying to feel anything but my own emotions. What am I doing here?


That was the question after all. I’d left my job and my New York flat in such a whirlwind that I hadn’t really created a plan to come back. My family (if you could even call them that) weren’t the only ones blowing up my phone. It had been over a month, and I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do yet. Everything is such a mess. 


I pinched the bridge of my nose with a sigh.


“Maybe a walk will clear my mind,” I said to no once in particular before stepping down onto the sand, grazing a hand over the tall dry beach grass as I passed. The ocean became louder as I got closer, and my mind began to quiet. I walked across the sandy pebbled beach, gingerly avoiding the outstretching tide as I made my way down the coastline.


“Hey!”


I jumped, not sure where the voice came from. But quickly found a lit beachside balcony connected to an all too familiar condo, with an annoyingly handsome smiling face staring down at me.


“Can’t sleep either?” Finnley shouted again.


I stopped and faced him fully before shouting back, “Not really!” I pulled my cardigan tighter around myself as I watched him, his features not entirely clear from the surrounding night sky.


“Wait for me, I’ll come down!” He rushed back inside and came out a side door from the first story of his condo, before making his way down the sandy hill that separated us.


“You didn’t have to come out, it’s freezing…” I said, motioning toward his sleeveless attire, and ridiculously exposed biceps. My eyes were rolling on the inside. He noticed my stare and smiled sheepishly.


“You shy, movie star?”


“Oh, not at all,” he greeted my tease with an obnoxious flex, before draping a heavy jean jacket rimmed with sherpa over my shoulders. “I could see you shivering from up there.” He was so naturally sweet.


To my own surprise, I couldn’t even meet his eyes with my own. “Thanks.”


Stuffing his hands in his pockets he let me stand there blushing for a moment. Did he enjoy seeing me get uncomfortable? When I finally met his eyes, he tucked his hand under the hair that was caught under his jacket and flipped it to the outside.


            “There.” He smiled sweetly.


            Clearing my throat, I broke our eye contact to look up at his home, before continuing down the beach. “So... Why are you up at 3am?” He fell into step naturally.


He tucked his hands back into his pockets, studying the rocks beneath us as we walked. “I’m at a crossroad and I’m not sure where to go.”


“A crossroad?”


He eyed me softly as he spoke. “I usually have someone that I trust very much to help me decide my next steps, when things get like this—”


“My grandfather.” I said nodding knowingly.


“Henry, yes.”


Puzzled, I stopped then to face him.


“Where were your parents? I mean— why were you so involved with my grandpa?” It came out a lot brattier than desired, but he stopped surprised all the same.


His brows bunched together. “Where were yours?” Ass.


I continued walking then, but this time to the edge of the breaking waves. “They ignored me for what they viewed as more important; aka themselves and their lives. The moment I was old enough, they shipped me here whenever they could. Dad hasn’t bothered with me in three years, so who the hell knows where he is. And my mom? Well, she bothers me in other ways… Like a bad rash or something.”


I kicked at the frigid dark water, feeling much like a child, when I felt him stand beside me.


“It’s unfair, right?” The disgust rang clear in Finn’s voice as he spoke. “Why even have children, if you’ll have no interest in them except those of your own.” He shook his head and bent to fold up the pant legs to his jeans. When he stood, he walked into the water, speaking to me over his shoulder. “My mum died when I was 7. Sepsis… And my father, well he disowned me the moment I told him I was going to be an actor.”


My heart sunk into my stomach. “I’m so sorry, Finn—”


“Don’t be.”


He turned to face me, up to his shins in the freezing water, and motioned for me to come to him. Was he crazy? I kicked my sandals off and threw them in a pile behind us. Was I? Stepping deeper into the water I felt my breath hitch as my teeth began to chatter. His hand still stretched out to me in the space between us. I glanced at it briefly before tucking my own hands under my armpits, taking a small step closer. He dropped his hand, chuckling to himself.


“What was your mom like?” I asked the question without fully thinking it through, immediately wishing that I could retrieve the words and shove them back into my whore mouth. Damn it, Lennon. To my surprise, a small smile grew on his lips as he maneuvered the dark water around with his foot.


“She was kind and creative. She was loving and so strong. She was beautiful.” He glanced up at me as he continued, “She had little freckles similar to yours, actually.” The corners of his lips tilted upward once more as he traced a finger across his nose and cheeks. The same place where my freckles sat. “Her sickness took her suddenly and quickly. I was lucky to not have to watch her suffer. But my dad was never the same… It’s like once the warmth left her skin, all the warmth left his heart. He’s been cold ever since.”


He took another step closer, lightly kicking up some water at me. I didn’t budge, the sadness of the subject was not quite ready to leave my body. I studied the water at my feet, frowning to myself.


“Hey. Don’t look so glum, Lenny. It was a long time ago.” He closed the space between us and tilted my chin up to face him. Tears glistened on my cheeks from the moonlight, as I looked into his sapphire eyes. “Hey…” He swiped at the wet spots with his thumb.


“I dreamt of him… And I think he tried to say my name— but I couldn’t hear his voice.” A sob left my quivering lips. “I can’t remember the sound of his voice.” I buried my face into Finn’s chest, soaking the front of his shirt. He wrapped his warm arms around my body and held me there as I cried, smoothing the hair gently on the back of my head over and over again till my sobs broke and my tears stopped all together. I pulled away slightly and peered up at him to find him staring off into the stars.


“I’m trying to think of something that Henry would say right now... And I think he’d tell you that even though you might not remember some things about him, your memories still exist, his memory lives on in you, and… I’ve seen his house. You’re the little girl in all the photos. That house, his house, carries both your memories there.” He looked down at me then as I blinked up at him, more exhausted than I had been all week since the meeting with my mother’s lawyer.


In that moment, I let my exhaustion and depleted emotions guide me into him. He stood still and watched me move as I slowly inched toward his face. I rolled onto my tippy toes and gently pressed my lips against his. His eyes closed and I felt him kiss me back tenderly.


When the kiss was over, he held me there and studied my face for a moment, waiting for me to speak first I realized.


So, I did.


“Can I stay over tonight?”






*TUNE IN NEXT SUNDAY TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!*

 

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