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  • Olivia Moore

Brighton ~ Chapter 1 ~ Web Series

Updated: Mar 2

Written by: Olivia Moore






Chapter I ~ The Things That Sting

 

 

A quick swim first thing in the morning seemed like a great idea after tossing and turning in a dead man’s bed all night. It felt symbolic in a way. I would go in the icy water and come out somehow with a new put together version of myself. A version that might possibly be worthy of everything that I had just been given.


Stepping out onto my grandfather’s wooden deck, I allowed myself to admire the sound of the ocean for a few moments. I could just make out the small bits of sun coming up through the deepened navy sky. My skin bristled at the crisp chilly air even though we were supposed to be in the middle of June. Being in Brighton always seemed to make Summer seem like a bit of a joke.


I inhaled the scent of the salty sea spread out before me, and closed my eyes, allowing myself to picture his smiling face peering at me from over his shoulder as he fished on the beach just a few meters from where I stood. The creases around his eyes carved deep from so many years of laughing. His skin speckled and tanned from his long days fishing in the sun. He’d reel in fish from the ocean, wearing his rubber waiters and his decorated fishing hat. A hat that he had left for me in his will, along with all his other nicknacks and earthly possessions.


With the first sound of gulls squawking, my eyes opened to find an empty pebble covered shoreline. The waves broke softly in place of my faded memory, and I blinked away the tears now pooling in my eyes. The gulls continued their morning song, and my ears rang. I was already drowning in family drama over what was rightfully whose, but for now I would allow myself to silence them all out and just swim.




#



 

As my head broke the surface, my disappointment at the lack of newfound clarity and rejuvenation was a resounding understatement. The sun was now sitting higher in the sky and the seagulls were at full squawk. I rolled my eyes and decided that if I stop treading water for just long enough, the current will pull me under faster than I could change my mind. A slap on the water from not too far away pulled me from my ridiculous despair and my arms became alive again. A muscular surfer paddled from the shore toward the growing waves, and I watched as he found his footing and rode one to its length. I observed him do this a couple of times before deciding that I should head back into shore to dry off in the sand, when I felt a searing pain run all the way up my thigh across my backside. Cursing at every living thing in my vicinity, I looked down at myself, only to see that I swam right into a jellyfish. A blood curdling scream ripped through me as I tore the creature from my body and threw it, desperately trying to ignore the deadly burn now searing through my skin.


I strained to swim back into shore, but every attempt to paddle was hindered by an unforgiving current heading further out. My leg stung against the salty water in heated waves. I let out another blaring scream before my vision started fading and a wave swallowed my cry. I didn’t bother to fight it. My open eyes burned as I watched the sun rise farther out of reach. Once more, I allowed myself to drift deeper beneath the surface, praying that I could escape the world around me, that I could be with my grandfather again.





#



“Hey!” A deep voice yelled over me, as I laid splayed out on the freezing pebbled ground. He shook my shoulders in a clear panic, “Hey hey— c’mon, Miss… Stay with me…”


I sat up only to hurl over to my side and vomit until nothing would come out. I turned to the stranger, my voice hoarse and barely audible, “My leg! A huge jelly fish…”


The man knelt beside me in the small rocks, his face now fully in view as he surveyed me still panting in pain. His broad features were masculine in a way that felt aged but held a muscular sense of youth, his jaw broad and angular. His face twisted in what looked like a mix of disgust and sympathy. He lightly moved my arm and hair out of the way, aiming to get a better view of the sting.


“Miss, I’m not going to lie to you. This is a nasty looking one. Is your leg numb or does it just hurt?”


I finally got the guts to look down at the damage and instantly filled with panic. The sting was bright purple with blistering splotches. “It burns and I can hardly move it,” I said, twisting to get a better view of the marks the creature left across my hip and backside.


The man looked down at me as he stood up and rested his hands on his hips. There was no one else on the beach. “I can call an ambulance for you if you can wait here a minute.”


“An ambulance!?” I yelped. I tried to maneuver and get up, but instantly fell back down. I looked up at him. “No way! That’s too much— can’t you just pee on it or something, doesn’t urine make the pain stop?”


His bright blue eyes finally met mine and they widened, his brows furrowing. “You don’t even know me and you’re asking me to piss on you?” There was blatant horror in his eyes, but I didn’t even care. It must have only been 70 degrees out, but beads of sweat were forming at my hairline. The pain was making me nauseous. I turned away to vomit once more into the dark peppered stones, then turned back to him wiping the bile from my lips.


“Please, for the love of God! Just do it—"


He briefly surveyed the surrounding area, making sure no one else was around, then found my face once more. “I can’t just go around urinating on people. If someone spots me and gets a photograph, it will be all over the tabloids within hours!” He protested, pressing a hand to the side of his brow with a frown. The pain barreled through me in waves of intense heat and shivers, I could barely hear what he was telling me, so I just turned away from him and untied the side of my bikini bottom that covered the sting.

“Please, just do it. I won’t look… I’m literally about to pass out.” I laid my forehead flat against the stones, not even waiting for him to reply.


He shuffled next to me for a few moments before saying, “Fine! But only because you literally look like you’re about to die.” There was more shuffling and then hot liquid hit my leg with a searing burn. I writhed in anguish underneath the sweltering stream until the pain became dull and the liquid stopped. “There.”


I rolled onto my back and just laid there, not even caring that I was on top of a pile of piss. “Thanks.” I shielded my eyes from the sun that was now high in the morning sky and peered up at him. Holding out my free hand, I offered him my name. “I’m Lennon.”


Gazing down at me, he didn’t seem to know how to respond. He moved to the side opposite my burn and sat on the uneven ground next to me. “I suppose we do owe each other our names after this little riot.” He laughed and shook my hand lightly, his calloused palms scraping mine. “I’m Finnley.” I managed a small laugh in response but groaned with the remnants of the sting.


“I still think we should get you in to see a doctor.” Finnley said, as I sat up to re-tie my bikini bottoms.


"No thanks, I think I’m done with doctors for a while.” I told him, my mind instantly drawn into an all too recent memory of my grandfather, seeing his shallow breaths barely rise and fall under that thin checkered hospital gown. All his veins visible under the fragile skin that clung to his failing body. Doctors, a lot of good that did for him. I tried to shake off the memory.


He leaned back on his hands, looking puzzled and annoyed. “Well… that’s bloody stupid. You just got the living hell stung out of you by a jelly monster, nearly begged me to piss on you, and you also nearly drowned all in the span of twenty minutes. You need to see a physician. I’ll bring you to one myself.”


His brazen frustration got my attention and I peered at him sideways, pulling my tangled wet hair into a messy bun on top of my head. My fringe fell freely back into my face, and I blew it out of my eyes. Doing my best to ignore the numbness tingling down my right leg, I tried to look confident as I brought myself to my feet beside him.


“You seem awfully concerned for someone who only met me like five seconds ago.” I never did well when people started to show concern for me. Life was so much easier when people just left things alone, and that’s what I came out here to be in the first place.


His brows rose.


“You know, I lost my board when I went to save you” He looked out at the ocean as if remembering the decision to let it go. “Or did you forget that you even needed saving, that I bloody pulled you from under the water!?” His gaze returned, all the kindness now a visible regret.


“I didn’t realize… I’m sorry.” My cheeks heated as I met his glare.


“What the hell were you even doing out there? This beach is supposed to be private.”


Not entirely sure what I was doing out there, I remembered my distant notion of rebirth, and quickly looked around for my towel and sandals that were further inland on the rocky sand. Heading for them, I didn’t even bother to turn back as I spoke.


“Not that it’s any of your business, but that is my house.” My finger trailed to my newly acquired beach front property, and I gathered my things. He must have followed me because when I turned back to him to slide on my sandals, he was much too close for comfort.


“That is Mr. Rockwell’s residence, and last I checked his daughter and her family lived in the states.” He peered up at the house one last time before crossing his arms and staring me down.


“My grandfather— Henry Rockwell. He passed away two weeks ago. He left me the house. Again, not that it is any of your business, Mr... Finnley.” I said, trying to appear more confident than I was.


His arms fell to his sides in defeat and his features softened as he studied me briefly. “I’m sorry to hear that. Mr. Rockwell was a good man. He taught me how to fish as a boy. I used to come up here with my father, but he was always too busy with work to bother with me. But Henry did. So, I’m sorry.” His eyes met mine with raw understanding. “If there is anything you might require, you only need ask. I’ll be in that condo over there for the remainder of the summer.” He pointed two houses down the shoreline.


I spotted the condominium, then looked down to study my sting, wincing at the already formed blisters. “I’m fine.”


He nodded, pressing his lips in a hard line, not seeming to believe me. “If you won’t see a medical professional, I’m going to come do a wellness check on you this evening. Please answer the door or I’ll have to assume that you’ve died and end up calling that ambulance after all.”


I rolled my eyes and turned back to walk to the house.


“You’re welcome by the way!” He called after me.


I looked back in time to catch him smirking as he walked in the direction of his beach house, taking the height of him in for the first time. His impressively wide back seemed to cast small shadows underneath each ripple of muscle. I’d hardly noticed how massive he was when he hovered over me, but staring after him now, he had to have been well over six feet tall. His deep brown hair, still wet from the plunge, glinted in the sunlight, and curled in small wisps just above his ears. Handsome.


“And annoying,” I muttered to myself. As though he might have heard me, his head swiveled in my direction and our eyes met one last time. I shook my head and headed inside my grandfather’s house.



 Stay TUNED next Sunday for Chapter 2!!!

 

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