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I reach for the nearest bottle and drink greedily, hoping the pure nectar will take the dreams away. The clock flashes 2:40AM. Going to be a long night. I crawl out of bed and walk slowly to the window that looks out over the city. The sky is cloudless but the stars fade against the city lights. Maybe it's time I face this memory head on, I think, as I walk into my tiny living room to sit on the couch. Leaning back with my eyes closed, I recall that fateful night almost three years ago... I was wearing a rented tuxedo. I remember that because it didn't quite fit, and no matter how many times I twisted it, the bowtie wouldn't stay straight. But it was Martha's big night, and I had to dress the part. Martha was my little sister and she had finally broken out of obscurity and into the spotlight - Plumbob Studios had just offered her a five year contract. Our parents were thrilled, and no one was happier than my older sister, Allura. Allura, nicknamed LuLu because Martha couldn't say Allura when she was a tyke, was now one of the foremost directors working in films. She was excited about being able to work with her baby sister. My parents threw quite a party where the nectar flowed from the fountains and everyone ate too much, talked too much, drank too much and pretty much had the time of their lives. I spent most of the night on my parent's balcony, watching the waves crash against the shore below. I never was very good at parties.
Martha found me on the balcony as the party was winding down.
"Hiding from me?" she asked.
"You know I can't do small talk," I said, and hugged her. "Congratulations kid. I always knew you were going to be a star."
Martha beamed and joked, "I can't believe you actually wore a monkey suit."
"Never say I didn't do anything for you," I joked back. I was facing indoors while Martha was looking over the balcony rail towards the sea. Suddenly she grabbed my arm and said, "what's that?" I turned but couldn't see anything in the dark. "I don't see anything," I said, but Martha was already racing down the deck stairs towards the beach. I followed her, studying the surface of the water, trying to see what she had seen. Martha kicked off her high heels and flew across the sand to the water's edge. I still couldn't see anything except dark waves, but then I heard it. Someone was calling for help.
Martha was now standing knee deep in the water and wading out.
"Martha," I yelled, "don't go in wearing that gown, it's too heavy."
She ignored me and dove in, swimming away towards the voice. I kicked off my shoes and tore at the fancy dress clothes, cursing all the buttons, and followed Martha into the water. Martha had always been a good swimmer, and she was way ahead of me now so that I almost couldn't see her in the dark water, away from the lights on the beach.
I had to stop about fifty meters from shore and get my bearings. The waves weren't huge but they were big enough and I didn't see Martha at all.
"MARTHA!" I yelled, panicking. "I'm here," she called back. She was still a good distance away but she had her arm tucked under someone's head and she was crabbing backwards, towards the shore.
I swam to meet her and saw that she was towing a small boy.
Suddenly the boy in her arms began jerking and splashing wildly. Martha tightened her grip but it only frightened the boy and he fought harder. They both sank. "NO!" I screamed, and dove under, reaching out blindly. I felt the fabric of Martha's gown and hauled it up with me...I broke the surface and took a huge breath before realizing that the gown was empty, just heavy wet fabric. Martha must have slipped it off at some point, but then... where was she?
"MARTHA!" I yelled and dove again, trying to see into the black water. I stayed under so long that my lungs began to burn and my eyes hurt. I came up again and got hit by a wave just as I tried to draw a breath, and ended up coughing and flailing. Lights snapped on along the water's edge as more and more people came down from the house, hearing me scream Martha's name. I dove again, and again, and came up empty every time. Exhausted, I swam to shore and stood on the beach, staring at the water.
I dropped Martha's gown onto the sand beside me before sinking down to my knees, the world spinning. The last thing I remember is watching my father run towards me before I passed out. I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling, a single tear tracing a path down my cheek. God now I really need a drink... I grab the good stuff from the rack in the kitchen and walk back into the living room to sit on the couch, clutching the glass of nectar tightly.
Sitting on the couch, I force myself to remember the rest of it... The next day was bright and sunny, a sharp contrast to the darkness of the night before. I woke up in my parent's guest bedroom, barely able to recall how I had gotten there.
My father came to me and explained that they had pulled Martha's body out of the waves, along with the body of a small boy, a few hours after I had collapsed. No one knew who the boy was.
My mother and Lulu were locked away in their rooms, inconsolable. My father seemed angry more than sad and I wanted to ask, but he suddenly yelled, "Why didn't you save her?" before storming out of the room. I put my head into my hands and wept... My alarm clock blares loudly, bringing me back to the present. The sun is just coming up over the bay, coloring the sky in shades of peach and rose.
I sit still, waiting for the wave of grief that comes before I reach for a drink and instead feel a little lighter. I look at the bottle of nectar on the table; strangly enough, I don't seem to want it anymore. I walk into the bedroom and turn off the alarm, then head to the bathroom for a quick shower and shave. I have an appointment with Melissa Wolfe, the CEO of Plumbob Studios, and it wouldn't help my case any if I am late...
Bridgeport Blues - Chapter Four
Oct 16, 2011 by Degera
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