Midnight on the Pier
Emily would have recognized Beth's silhouette anywhere. Even bundled up in her thick trench coat, it was obvious. The way she stood--her weight on one hip, hands stuffed into her pockets. Emily's heart thudded in her chest as Beth turned. Suddenly, she was very aware that she was being seen, and who was seeing her. Her steps faltered, ever so slightly.
They'd met by the sea, on a night a lot like this one. The moon was a silver coin, sitting just under the waves. Far out, tidal rocks looked like a rip in the water. There was a moment when their eyes met; They almost ran to each other, grabbed each other, kissed until they thought they'd die. Emily knew how Beth would taste; like cool water and salt. But they didn't. They looked at the sea, at the sky, at the wooden slats of the pier; anywhere but at each other.
It has been six months.
"I got your text."
"Yeah. How you been?"
"Yeah, ok. Got a new job. You?"
"Not so good."
They paused. Their hands nearly touched.
". . . so . . . "
"I can't take it anymore, Em. It's too loud, too dry. And I'm lonely."
"I thought you were happy here?"
Beth turned. Her eyes caught the moonlight. Her eyes had always made the breath hitch in Emily's chest. They were so brown, the pupils were almost lost. She was used to those eyes being lit up--with wonder, with curiosity, with laughter and with love. A thousand "first times" flooded through Emily's head. But now, those eyes shimmered with tears and confusion.
"I was happy with you."
With a glance at the sea, Beth pulled the coat tighter around herself.
"Is there any way . . . ?"
". . . I don't know."
A sad smirk.
"That means no. You forget I know you, babe."
That word hung like a noose around their necks. Emily wanted to grab Beth by the lapels. Beg her to stay. Tell her all the things that had been flooding her mind since her phone had flashed "New Message from Beth" that morning. Tell her things would change, that she would change.
But instead, she said "If you ever come back . . . "
Beth kissed her. Just once; chaste, on the lips. Pulled the hood over her sleek hair.
Then, she jumped.
Emily stood for a long time. Long after the seagulls had stopped screaming, after the waves had calmed. After Beth's tail had disappeared under the waves. All there was to show she was ever there was a wisp of sea foam, wrapping itself around the supports of the pier. Beth hadn't looked back. Emily turned for home. As she walked, she heard seals baying.
Emma Whitehall is a writer and spoken-word performer based in the North East of England. She specializes in Flash Fiction and poetry, focusing around horror and dark fantasy themes. Her work has been featured in literary and genre magazines on both sides of the Atlantic; her paranormal love story "Waiting" has been translated into Spanish, and her short story "Shed" was featured in a charity anthology for the American independent publishing company, Hazardous Press. She has released two self-published collection of stories and poetry--"Kallisto's Tale" in 2012, and "Dust Motes and Faded Green Velvet" in 2014. Both can be purcahsed in Paperback and eBook format from lulu.com or amazon.co.uk