Monday, 5 May 2014

A Fresh Start.

"Water kills, you know."

The words, sharp as the broken glass from the window, pierced the calm silence and made him jump. He turned and stared at her silently, waiting for another outburst.

She moved toward him, slender hands hanging limply at her sides, not in their usual defiant position of being crossed over her chest. She moved until she was just behind him and stood staring past him at the gentle waves.

"I know," he answered slowly. "But it brings life as well."

She frowned, her nose flaring. "How?"

He sighed. She knew perfectly well how, of that he was sure of, but she had to oppose him in every way. "It quenches the thirst of plants, animals. People. It keeps us from dying of thirst. It cools us and cleans us and makes the earth seem new." He turned, a smile on his face. "Haven't you ever gone out after a rainstorm and just sucked in the beautiful cleanness of it all? Like all the wicked things in the world were, at least for a little time, washed away and everything had as fresh start."

He had caught her hand in his eagerness and for a moment she let him hold it, and wrenched away and walked straight up to the ocean's edge, watching with something akin to fear in her eyes as the waves drifted in and out. "Perhaps so. You needn't sound so poetic, Leonardo."

He sighed. "Everything I do seems to make you upset."

She stiffened but said nothing and he pressed on. "You have to find fault with everything, not just with me, but the whole world. Why, Angela?"

She whirled on him like a serpent ready to kill, and for a moment he thought she would hit him. "Don't call me that!"

"I'm sorry, Angelina," Leonardo apologized, careful to use her full name. "I forgot."

"Forgetful boy."

Never mind that he was a year older; she insisted on calling him 'boy' whenever she was mad, which was most of the time. He sat down in the sand and called for Vera. She ran to him, nearly flying over the sand, hair streaming out in curls behind her.

"Vera, come sit," he smiled, taking her little hand.

She plopped down beside him and nestled her head against his shoulder. "Yes, papa?"

He smiled. She would keep calling him that, jut as Angelina insisted in calling him 'boy.' He cupped a handful of saltwater in his palm. "Look at the water."

She obeyed dutifully, splashing up some water of her own and squeaking in dismay when it ran off her skin back into the sea. "It won't stay!"

"No, it won't. This water is just like life. We want it to stay, but it won't. It slips away from us" Leonardo glanced at Angelina; the girl had knelt down and was holding her own palmful of water, watching him from behind her curtain of hair.

"It's like what that man said, back in Rome." Vera pointed at the city far away in the distance, barely visible form their position.

"What man?" Leonardo smiled, touching her curls.

"The man outside the church."

Both Leonardo and Angelina stiffened at the same time.

Vera kept talking, oblivious of their discomfort. "He said that Jesus was like water, the cleanest ever, and He would wash away our sins. I don't know what 'sin' is, but the man said it was something worse than the blackest stains, and that it covered our hearts." She stared at her own chest, as if trying to see some hidden stain. "I don't like stains," she said, wrinkling her nose. "I want this water, papa. Can you get me some? Who is Jesus? Can you find Him for me? Does He live in the sea?"

Leonardo got to his feet and took Vera's hand. "We need to find a place to sleep," he said quietly, hoisting the little girl to his back. "Never you mind about Jesus."


Vera fell silent and Angelina fell behind him as Leonardo headed up the beach. At the top of the slope he turned and looked at the waves. Vera's words echoed in his head. "He said that Jesus was like water, the cleanest ever, and He would wash away our sins." His won words drifted through as well and he wrinkled his forehead. "Haven't you ever gone out after a rainstorm and just sucked in the beautiful cleanness of it all? Like all the wicked things in the world were, at least for a little time, washed away and everything had as fresh start."

A fresh start. Was that what he needed? Would this Jesus give it to him?

Leonardo shook his head and turned his back on the ocean. Too many questions. He wished he had never set eyes on the sea.


Chatterbox is held by Rachel over at her blog. This month's theme was water!









2 comments:

Jessie said...

Beautiful!

I'm not sure if you were looking for a critique of any kind, but if you were, the only thing I'd suggest is to make the characters' relationships to each other more clear. I would guess that Angelina and Leonardo are married and that Vera is their daughter, but it also seemed like they might all be siblings or something.

I absolutely loved everything about this story, though. I loved the different perspectives on water.

I love water. Good subject! :)

Molly said...

Jessie: Thanks for your critique! It's always welcome! I understand, it might be confusing not knowing their relationship. This is from a story I am writing, so in the book hopefully it is more clear. :D Leonardo and Angelina are.... well, at this point I wouldn't call them exactly friends. More like companions. He wants to be friends, she doesn't. Vera is a orphan they found in Rome and are taking care of.