Katie’s bare feet dug into the soft warm sand, looking over the waves, searching for something. And that something, is the boat where her husband will come from, bringing gifts for her and their newborn daughter.
“He’ll be back soon, dear. In the meantime, why don’t we play on the beach?"
Alone with her baby, she spun around with the child in her hands along the beach where the waves brushed against the sand.
That was twenty four years ago. Katie’s daughter, Lily, watched her mother sitting on her chair, still looking beyond the cold sand and over the waves. She looked at the same view as her mother’s and rather than feel a sense of longing and expectation that a boat might come and beach up on the shore, all she felt was disdain. Disdain for a person who should have been dear to her and yet, she could not quite look at his images without feeling disdain. She once longed for her father; the husband her mother still misses dearly. Now, she wished in her mind that she never knew him since it was because of him her mother kept looking outside., expecting a man who will never come.
She looked at the mantle of the fireplace and saw a letter there, worn and browned. She read it again for the hundredth time: the untimely demise of her father, all summarized in an old piece of paper: Drowned in the Pacific Ocean trying to save passengers in F.S. Quiloquoia. His body was never found but was assumed to have sunk along with the aforementioned ship. Lily placed it back on the mantle and embraced her mother from behind. While she hated her mother's habit of looking towards the sea, she loved her dearly to at least bear the view with her.
“If he saw you right now he would have retired and spent the rest of his days on land with us.” Katie placed a hand on Lily’s arms and squeezed it.
“I’m pretty sure he’d still beg you one last trip if he knew.” Both mother and daughter giggled.
“How long will you be staying?”
“Well… with my writer’s block mucking me up, my editor told me to just get a bit of fresh air for a while, he also said-”
“How’s life been?”
“Oh, well… you know…” she struggled to find the words, “…I broke up with Peter.”
“Peter Diaz, the critic?”
“So, you do read my messages." Lily's tone went sulky. "Never considered replying, mom?”
“Many attempts were made, Lily pad. I always just forget to send the mail.”
“How can you forget how to send an electronic mail?”
“I’m an old timer. That’s my excuse.”
Lily had nothing to say. Her hand had reached her face and shook her head sideways.
“So, what happened with Peter?”
“Well, he was being kind of a jerk now since I’ve gotten a block and he wanted to read more of my stuff. What annoyed me the most was he kept pushing me for ideas every second of the day. I was already stressed out from the pressure from my editor, now I have to receive some from him? After a couple of weeks of arguing, I finally broke it off with him and I went back here."
“How long has it been?”
“…” Lily took out her phone to look at the date. “Five days.”
“Do you regret it?”
“Breaking up with him.”
“No. Actually I thought it was well overdue. I hate the way he kept gaslighting me.”
“Well, plenty of men in the sea. Or women, if you’re into them.”
“Mom!” Lily could not help but raise her voice to which her mother responded with a light-hearted giggle.
“Well make yourself comfortable, dear. Your room is where it’s always been and I’ve kept it the way you left it.”
“I will mom and you shouldn’t have.”
“Welcome back, Lily pad.”
Lily gave her mother a big smile before giving her a tight squeeze of a hug, “Thanks, mom.” She said, before kissing Katie on the cheek.
Her room was as she had left it: wall shrines of her favorite boy bands, actors and singers, all crammed into a single room, almost every single one of them framed with hearts all over, a pink bed and lavender scented candles. "...Wow, I was such a major dork back then, I almost forgot."
“Sheesh,” Lily scrubbed the edge of the wall shrine and tore it off, “Time to clean up now. V-Sync looks so old now, I can’t believe it.”
It was a long day cleaning up her old room to suit her new self: a pink bed, a blank wall and a beautiful seaside view, obscured with a couple of curtains. Lily opened a pill bottle, took two pills from it and swallowed without drinking water. Her phone buzzed: Two messages from Peter, her ex-boyfriend -recent ex-boyfriend. Her editor thought the breakup was the reason for the writer’s block but for her personally, she didn't not think so. Maybe it was the routine, maybe the atmosphere, maybe the stress got to her, but all she knew was that the cause was not their relationship. Still, she wondered why Peter kept texting her despite the breakup being mutual at the time.
She checked his messages:
“L, are you okay? I heard you’re having a writer’s block. If you need anything, I’m here.”
“Are you at your home? I could pay you a visit.”
‘Sheesh, he took the breakup well and now he’s back? Peter, I thought you also wanted this.’
Lily shrugged, “I might as well tell him off.”
“This is Lily. No I’m not at home Peter. I'm staying at my family's home.”
To which, Peter replied at an alarming speed:
“Need me to come?”
“Oh, for the love of--” Lily rolled her eyes then texted back.
“No, Peter. I’m fine. Live your own life because I’m living mine. Please move on!”
After hitting send, Lily set her phone down the pink desk and threw herself on her pink bed, not knowing she was already dozing off.
Lily took a deep breath and smelled the cold air, mixed with saltwater and the rustic scent, she felt a little better. Another sniff of the air introduced another smell. A familiar smell. A smell that could make a stomach move and rumble and roar. Food. Her stomach growled and her eyes opened. It was lunch time. She could smell her mother’s cooking from inside her room. Truly, something everyone can agree on: a parent’s cooking is the absolute best. Which, in her case, was her mother’s.
She peeked out from her room and saw her mother in the kitchen not cooking, but baking. Baking what- she cannot fathom. The oven was obscured from her bedroom door.
“Hey mom, what’re you baking?”
“Your favorite, dear.”
Katie stared blank-faced into a wall for a few seconds, “…Lasagna.”
“Oh, wow!” Lily came out of her room, “I want lasagna right about now!"
“Well you’re in luck, it’s almost done!”
Both mother and daughter stared at the lasagna through the oven glass, anticipating the timer to ring and when it was time to take it out, Katie moved like a ballerina.
“I never figured you’d still be in your prime, mom.”
“Why not? I raised you while handling two jobs at once. And once you left, I still had a lot to do!”
“What jobs were they again?”
“Proofreading and tutoring.”
“Best Mom of the Century.”
“Oh, come on- they were easy compared to raising you, little Lily.”
“Why, how dare you mom? I remember quite well that I was a darling little angel. Oops-” Lily pretended there was something in her hand as she let go of it right above the floor. “There goes the Best Mom Award.”
The parent and child both laughed and stared at the lasagna.
“Damn I’m hungry.” Lily darted towards the dish cabinet and took two plates and two forks.
“Why thank you dear.”
“I missed you mom. Really.”
Katie looked at her daughter with curious eyes and a loving smile, “I know, dear. I’ve missed you too.”
With a smile, both mother and daughter dug into the hot lasagna; eating quietly beside each other at the table.
“Mm?” Lily looked up with pasta hanging from her mouth.
“If it’s not with your ex… what was it about?”