The Shore

The Shore

A Story by Ashley Flynn
"

Daral Daverit is the heir to a successful family business. He has a good name, good family, and a beautiful woman soon to be his betrothed. But still, he craves something more...

"

Daral had walked this path along the sand so many times. 

Late at night, when most residents on his side of the city slept, he would sneak out through the back door of the kitchens to walk along the shore. Here, there was only the crashing of the waves to interrupt his thoughts, nothing but the bright, white stars and the angels above to watch him or wonder about him.

But somehow he could feel that tonight was different. A thick, gray curtain was drawn across the sky, and he could not see the stars twinkle their familiar greeting. The ocean was black, its waters calm and infinite. The dark waters stretched until they reached the edge of heaven, somewhere in the darkness. Daral thought for a moment that nothing, not even the wrath of El, could disturb such a stillness, when a silent lightning bolt shattered the sky. Its light was so bright that for a split-second the sky became blue. A few moments later, another burst of lightning came. And then another. And another. Until the heat lightning was so frequent that the ocean became a flowing grayscale, shifting in color as the waves undulated, going from black to charcoal to grey to silver, and then, when the foam bubbled onto the sand, to white. The air was warm and wet, thick with salt and sea, dark and light.

Daral continued down the shoreline, staring into the depths of the sea, as if he were looking for something. Something he wanted. Needed, even. But what? What could there possibly be for him there that he did not already possess?

He was proficient in his work. He was well liked by his friends. One of the most popular citizens in Puertistreye. He had a good family, with a good business. A vast estate. He was his father's favored son. He had an advantageous betrothal to a woman from another good family. She was also intelligent, and kind, and very pretty.

Daral went through all these things in his mind, as he always did when he felt restless, or dissatisfied, or when he found himself searching for something but didn't know what, or why he was searching for it.

"A place for everything and everything in its place," he whispered, even though there was no one around to overhear his mantra. He repeated it whenever he felt out of sorts, to remind himself that everything in his life was perfectly in its place. That he was lucky, that he had everything anyone could possibly ever want.

But a small part of Daral felt that he wasn't just anyone. Or that if want anyone wanted was the same as what he wanted, whatever that was.

As he continued down the familiar path, the Pier came into view. On his late night walks, Daral never went further than the Pier. There was no reason to. The pier was a perfect landmark, reminding him not too wander to far or to end his walk too soon. Stopping at the Pier ensured he would have a good walk, but that he could get back home soon enough to have a decent night's sleep before work the next day. On any other night, he would have reached the shadow beneath the Pier and then we would have turned right around and gone directly home. 

But tonight, Daral paused for a moment, just before the Pier, gazing into the waters beyond. He wasn't sure how he knew to look, but when he did, he saw something being tossed around in the waves.

Daral hesitantly drew closer to the Pier, so that he was almost underneath it, his toes skimming the water as he tried to get a better look. The thing bobbed up and down along the surface, before being carried and tossed by the waves. Slowly, but surely, the current brough it closer to the shore. Once again, heat lightning fractured the sky, illuminating the surface of the water. Daral saw white, floating above the waves. Another flash of lightning. More white, something like fabric. Flash. Orange. Or red. Flash. The distinct outline of a human arm rose above the surface.

Daral's blood ran cold. Someone was drowning.

Without a second thought, Daral sprinted underneath the Pier. He ran down the edge of the water, and when he got as close as he could, he dove into the waves, gliding through the current as if he were born to swim in it. He quickly found the victim, a woman, he could tell by her skirts. He wrapped one arm securely around her waist, his head almost dipping below the water. She was surprisingly heavy. He kicked hard with his legs, and then swam, one-armed, to shore. After a few minutes of struggling in the current, a wave snatched them up, tossing them onto the sand. Daral rubbed salt water from his eyes. He blinked.

The drowning victim was stretched out against the sand, her sodden dress clinging to her small frame. Thick ropes bound her arms and her legs. Daral's mouth hung open.
Someone had tossed this woman into the ocean, bound her so that she could not swim.

He grabbed at the ropes, expecting resistance, but somehow, strangely, they unraveled at his touch. He pulled them away and tossed them aside. As Daral's fingers searched her throat for a sign of life, his eyes searched her face, her cheekbones were high, her lips, soft and full. Her red curls were plastered to her neck and face andher skin was pale and ice cold, beneath his fingers where felt for a pulse. He was instantly mesmerized. She was beautiful, even in her current state.  Unable to locate a pulse in her neck, he tried her wrist. 

She couldn't be dead.

He pushed his fingers into her wrist, but the cruel voice of reason in his mind told him there would be none.

The water was freezing cold, there was no boat or ship nearby. It was plain, by the state of her dress and her hair, that she had been in the surf for far too long.

Daral's lip began to tremble.

"I'm sorry..." he whispered, his voice cracking.

He knew it was improper, but he couldn't help it. Tentatively, he ran his fingers through her hair. It was soft, the color so vibrant he wished he could view it in the light. How could the Angel have given him something so beautiful, only to snatch it away in the same moment?

A sob rose in Daral's throat, and he let the tears come. He let his head hang heavy and fall onto her chest, this beautiful woman whom he didn't know and would never know, and he had no idea why that fact hurt him so badly. He just cried until there were no more tears, and then he lay still against her bosom, breathing deeply and listening to the sounds of the ocean.

Suddenly, a soft sound broke the stillness of the moment. Daral almost dismissed it for the wind, or even some sort of animal, when he heard it again, but louder. A moan.

He shot upright. The woman stirred beneath him. Daral's pulse quickened. How could this be? Had he failed to locate her pulse before? He pushed his fingers into her throat once more, but still he felt nothing. With his other hand, he snatched at her wrist, and her eyes fluttered open, just as another wave of heat lightning struck, illuminating her face.

Her once lifeless face was now stretched into a manic expression, her teeth bared and eyes wide, pale blue with slit pupils.

Daral opened his mouth to scream, but nothing came out. He made to get up and run, but the hand he had around her wrist was suddenly in her grasp, and he froze. The creature wrenched his wrist toward her mouth and sank her teeth into it.

Daral stiffened at the brief flash of pain, but then suddenly felt very warm. Sleepy, even. The muscles in his body gradually relaxed, until he melted onto the sand, his head resting on her stomach, which now seemed a familiar resting place. He heard his own pulse, gradually falling into rhythm with hers, with the whisper of the breeze and the crashing of the waves. Her heartbeat grew louder in his ears as his faded. Everything was softer, darker, slower. He never wanted it to end.

He didn't know how much time had passed when his eyes opened. He looked up, dazed, at the night sky, and then at his torn, bloody wrist. With a great effort he sat up, and saw her a few feet away from him, brushing the sand from her dress.

"Hey..." he croaked. He tried to shout but his throat was too dry. Still, she heard him and turned around.

"I won't kill you," was her quiet reply. Her face was expressionless, but much more remarkable in her waking state. She took a few steps closer.

Daral blinked. 

"It wouldn't be right, considering. You'll feel weak for a few hours, but you'll survive."

She turned on her heel to leave. Daral knew he should be dead, that he should be grateful that the Spuri didn't drain him, that she simply took what she needed to regain her strength and was now leaving him be, but a sense of longing, of desperation filled him as he watched her go.

"Wait!" he rasped. She stopped and turned back around, regarding him with a curious expression.

"Don't go...I...your name..."

"Gisele," she replied, turning around once more and this time sprinting away from the ocean, towards the city. Within seconds she was gone.


Daral lay motionless in the sand, staring at the overcast sky above.  After a few minutes, he managed to push himself into a seated position. Then, on trembling legs, he pulled himself onto his feet. He took one step, and then another, and slowly but surely, made his way home. Sometime before dawn, he reached the entrance to the kitchen, pulled himself up the stairs by the banister, and once he made it to his bed, he collapsed onto the mattress, falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.

© 2016 Ashley Flynn


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Featured Review

Very imaginative. I liked the style. I think this story is about Daral trying to find happiness in the life that was given to him. He is searching for something he can call his own. Something he accomplished or something to give him an identity separate than his families. The girl symbolized those wants and how they ate away at him. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashley Flynn

4 Years Ago

I think it's amazing how well you understand Daral even though you've only known him for a few parag.. read more



Reviews

I find this interesting and well-written. A bit different, in that the creature/woman, this "spuri" is something I'm not familiar with. A harsh reward for his caring, at least he walked away.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashley Flynn

4 Years Ago

"At least he walked away."

HAHAHAHA. The story does not end there, my friend. If you .. read more
Samuel Dickens

4 Years Ago

My mistake, but I didn't see anything identifying it as a chapter.
Ashley Flynn

4 Years Ago

It's not a chapter. It's a fragment of a larger story. But I'm glad there are people rooting for him.. read more
Very imaginative. I liked the style. I think this story is about Daral trying to find happiness in the life that was given to him. He is searching for something he can call his own. Something he accomplished or something to give him an identity separate than his families. The girl symbolized those wants and how they ate away at him. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashley Flynn

4 Years Ago

I think it's amazing how well you understand Daral even though you've only known him for a few parag.. read more

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Added on May 24, 2015
Last Updated on January 20, 2016

Author

Ashley Flynn
Ashley Flynn

Long Beach, CA



About
Author of the Ascension series. Loves: (power/prog/death/black/symphonic/folk) metal, wine, pizza, fantasy, sci-fi, to-do lists, and my herb garden. more..

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