At the Sea. Short Story.

Jake sat on the sand, staring out at the ocean. It was starting to get cold and he would have to leave soon, but he didn’t want to go, he wanted to stay here, with her.

She was about ten feet out, floating there, looking at him. She didn’t speak English, or seemingly any recognisable language, but she made efforts to communicate. He had first seen her a few weeks before, thinking at first it was a trick of the light, then he thought it was someone in trouble. He had run to the shore and was about to charge in when she seemingly became aware of his presence for the first time, she rose out of the water, stopping at about hip height, where she stayed for a moment, frozen as he was before turning and swimming off quickly. Jake had taken a few steps back and sat heavily onto the sand. He wasn’t entirely sure what he had seen, but he knew it wasn’t human.

Since then he had come back every day in the hopes of spotting her again. It was the fourth day before she appeared and she had appeared every day after. They didn’t move any closer to one another. Jake always stayed on the sand and she always stayed in the water. He wasn’t sure if she could even leave it. He hadn’t seen her bottom half, for all he knew it could be a fish tail or regular legs. He didn’t think she was fully human, her facial features were off, her eyes were wide and black, her nose, though it rose out from her face, appeared to have slitted nostrils along the base and almost gill like protrusions at the sides. Her mouth was wide. Her arms were long and muscular, her fingers pointed and sharp looking. Her skin had a grey tinge to it. Her hair, though not quite visible from where he was seemed to be a brownish colour and almost looked as though it was made from seaweed. Jake found himself strangely drawn to her, it wasn’t attraction, not quite, but there was something about her. He knew he should tell someone of his discovery, after all it was huge, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone. It seemed like it would be a betrayal to her. He didn’t know if there were others like her, he hadn’t seen any others. For all he knew she could be the last one of her kind. How did she even get here? Surely someone would have noticed a group of human like creatures in the sea. He had come to the conclusion that whether or not she was the last one, there were definitely few out there. Occasionally he would try to talk to her, she would twist her head towards him, seemingly trying to hear him better, even if she didn’t appear to understand him.

Jake had thought about going into the water, seeing what would happen, but she must be a strong swimmer and she was, after all, a wild creature. What would stop her from attacking him? Even if she pulled him under she may not understand that he would drown beneath the waves. She would sometimes wave her arms at him, making motions and gestures he couldn’t understand.

Jake stood, getting ready to leave when she motioned for him to come closer. He took a step towards the surf, the waves lapping gently against his shoes. All his thoughts of danger and worry were gone. She was intelligent, she was trying to communicate with him and had been for the last few weeks. Surely that was a good sign? One that proved she wouldn’t be all that dangerous to him. He looked around the beach, it was still empty. He looked at the sea, he didn’t have a towel to dry off with, but the car wasn’t too far away. After a seconds hesitation, he stepped back and took off his shoes. He rolled up the bottoms of his jeans and stepped into the water. It was cold, but not as cold as he was expecting. He found it refreshing rather than off putting. He took a few careful and slow steps out into the water, it was still quite shallow, there must be a drop off where she was. She nodded at him encouragingly, gesturing again. Jake took another step, the water was almost at the ends of his jeans, he couldn’t go any further. She gestured again and Jake shook his head and pointed at his jeans. She frowned at him, then motioned. Jake looked back at the shore, if she was discovered he may never get a chance like this again. He went back to the shore and quickly stripped out of his clothes, leaving his boxers on for propriety. He knew she wasn’t quite human but it felt somehow wrong to be naked around her. Jake moved back to the water, carefully moving out towards her. When she was only a two or so feet away he stopped, the water was up to his hips and he could feel a drop off with his feet. Up close her skin glistened, it reminded him of the skin of a seal. She smiled at him and tentatively reached out with a hand, gently he held out his own and grasped her fingers. Her skin felt smooth, almost oily. She jerked her hand back, then moved out to touch his hand again. She frowned at his hand, she slowly lifted it from the water and examined it, twisting and turning. She looked at Jake and smiled, almost shyly. Then she lowered his hand again, she reached out and felt along his chest, poking and prodding at his skin. Up close he could see how sharp her teeth looked. She whipped her head around and looked out at the sea, she moved back from him slightly, Jake reached out. She looked at him for a moment, almost sadly, then she turned and was gone. Jake stood in the water, waiting to see if she would appear again, but there was no sign of her.

Ten minutes later he got out of the water, shivering. He picked up his clothes and ran to his car. There he found an old cloth and dried himself as best as he could. He took off his boxers and dressed, feeling somewhat warm even though his clothes quickly dampened. He sat in the car and turned the heater on full blast. He’d get home and have a shower, then put on some dry clothes. He didn’t know what had happened to her, but he had made progress. Perhaps they’d be able to develop some kind of sign language between them.

Jake returned to the beach the next day, and the next, but there was no sign of her. He went to the beach every day for two months, but she was gone. He still visited the beach occasionally, looking out for her, but he never saw her again.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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