Galaxies and Oceans
I stopped, looked toward the lonely figure still watching the ocean below, and with a deep breath and nothing to lose, I crossed the street and walked toward him.
“Hi,” I said, still a few metres away so as not to scare him.
He spun regardless, his eyes wide. He had dark eyes, pale skin, and I could see short brown hair poking out from under his hood. He looked three days unshaven, and the bump on the bridge of his nose gave his handsome face a rugged edge. “Oh, hi.”
“Didn’t mean to scare ya.” I nodded toward the tumultuous, tumbling ocean. “She’s upset today.”
He looked back out to the rough seas and gave me a quick smile. “It’s actually kinda pretty.”
I scratched at my beard. “I’ve heard it been called cruel, cold, rugged, hellish. The only people who call it pretty are the ones who end up staying.”
He looked back out to sea and smiled. The wind caught his hood and tousled his hair. His cheeks were pink from the cold as was the tip of his nose. He was handsome, no two ways about it. And possibly fifteen years younger than me.
I made myself look away. “What brings you here?”
“Looking,” he answered without turning to me.
“For?” I stared out across the stormy waves with him. “Work? A new beginning?”
He shot me a look. “Something like that.”
I sipped my coffee. “There’s not much work here. Well, that’s not true. There’s a tonne of work; this whole town is weather-beaten and old. Just not much work that pays.”
His lips twitched.
“But you can try the caravan park.” I didn’t let on that I knew that was where he was staying. “Old Frank Hill who runs the place would never say no to help. Maintenance, that kind of thing.”
He turned back to the water, to the wind. “I’ve asked him already.”
“Frank’s just a grumpy old man who thinks anyone under thirty’s a hooligan. I’ll have a word with him if you like.”
“Why would you do that?”
I smiled and gave pause. Why was I offering to help this guy? I didn’t know him from Adam. Sure, he was good-looking, but there was something in his eyes. Something deep, hidden, and burning. Something horrendously painful. Something I recognised.
I faced the angry sea alongside him. “Because you called this ocean pretty.”
Neither of us spoke for a while. I drank my coffee and he turned his empty cup in his hands.
“Anyway,” I said, realising I couldn’t stand around all day. “My name’s Patrick. I live at the lighthouse.”
That made him look at me. “In the lighthouse?”
“No. Not in it. In the residence.”
“Well, it’s almost two hundred years old, made from sandstone, and it’s tiny. But yes, it’s cool.” I smiled as the wind whipped around us. “I should go. I have work to do, but I’ll call around and see Frank after lunch.” I pulled the newspaper out from under my arm, and his eyes darted to the front page.
He stared so long I turned it around so he could read it, but he shot me a look that I couldn’t place, and it was gone so fast I’d wondered if I’d seen it. He stepped back. “Yeah, um, thanks. That’d be great.”
It wasn’t until I got home that I realised what the look on his face was. It was fear. And I realised I didn’t know his name.