In my dream my feet sunk into the sand with every receding wave. I wiggled my toes because it felt so real. That’s one feeling you never forget; no matter how far from a beach you physically are, you can always bring yourself back to that place by imagining the sand being quietly stolen out from under you.
I looked over my shoulder at him standing on the dock, so handsome in his tuxedo and bare feet. It was the wedding I hadn’t let myself dream of before I met him – a small affair, wrapped in light pinks and off-whites, laughter and magic and salt in the air. I smiled at him and closed my eyes until I felt him pick me up in those big bear hugs that only he can sweep me up in.
“I wanna go out in the water,” I confessed. I kissed his cheek, then his nose, then his chin. It felt so good to belong to each other. It felt so good to have the rest of our lives to be together. He set me down carefully and told me I knew where to find him when I’d finished my whimsical little sea voyage. I did know; he’d be by the food, further charming my family and blushing at personal questions. That’s my man, I thought with pure butterflies and giddiness.
I lifted my dress and waded out very slowly into the ocean. I had never had a perfect day in my life. The perfectionist in me always found some fault, some worry from the past that infiltrated my mind and ruined the mood for a split second, or some fear that I’d offended or upset someone else that left me with a bad aftertaste as the night drew to an end. But today, my wedding day, really was flawless. I knew that this was one of many days like that, that I was learning to be happy with what I have. I loved him so much for helping me reach that kind of peace for myself and the world.
I stepped on something prickly, a startled crab or a seaweed-stick perhaps, and when I lifted my foot to daintily place it elsewhere, a gentle wave set me off-balance and I fell underwater. The water was not deep at all, a mere two feet maybe, but the dressed weighed heavily upon me and I did not like the way the saltwater burned in my nostrils. My feet skidded along the bottom of the ocean floor, searching for an area solid enough to allow me to stand again, but instead I felt myself being pulled out deeper. I stuck my legs out straight, as far as they would stretch, but suddenly I was only grazing the seaweed, and then I wasn’t touching anything at all but free-floating in the dark blue waters. Even more terrifying, my dress had somehow risen to the surface of the water though my head remained below, and it was strangling me. I choked and gasped for air, eliciting only bubbles, and I kicked my feet and pushed upwards but to no avail. I wondered which would be more tragic, if I simply drowned or if my dress suffocated me? Something slimy wrapped around my ankle, but dark spots had invaded my vision, making it impossible to see anything besides the lace of my traitorous dress out of my peripheries. I closed my eyes and felt the salt trapped between my eyelashes. I willed myself to think of him, to picture the way he stood proudly and happily on that pier, I love you spoken shyly through the way he watched me in rapt silence. I tried not to think about the dreams we hadn’t gotten to live yet, or the beautiful family we hadn’t been able to raise yet, or just the lazy days filled with love we hadn’t gotten to cherish – no. My last memory would be of him. My last prayer: let him know I am so grateful.