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The ocean took its first breath.
She laid on the sand with her bare feet, near the waves but never close enough that it could touch her. Watching them crash unabashedly, over and over again. As if the moon shone over the sea merely to whisper, “come, my love, let yourself take your first breath.”
Eleanor felt the same way. To most people, when the sun went down, it signalled the end of the day — for her, it was the opposite. The waves were alive. A force of nature lost in control. It was sights like these that made her believe the world was so much bigger than the rest of them.
And it was sights like these that made her heart break.
She sighed, standing to wipe the sand off her sundress. Her co-workers should be expecting her soon. Though she was allowed to take short breaks like these, she didn't want to set a bad example, either.
Anchor's was still in full swing. Full tables of laughing customers, waiters dropping sizzling hot plates, the faint yet distinct sounds of electronic music that wafted from the District. It never failed to put a grin on her face.
“Len!” Jeff let out, relieved. “I almost thought you got lost there.”
“I had the stars to guide me.” He rolled his eyes, and she grinned at him. “Were you worried about me, Jones?”
“Of course I was.” He held a hand to his chest. “Who else would charm our customers into our lovely shack?”
“Are you saying that just to kiss my ass?”
“Just doing what I can to survive, boss.”
Boss. It's been a year and she still wasn't used to it.
Hours later, the crowd flickered out like the old lightbulb that sat atop the shack's counter. To the Anchor's crew, the busy night served as a good luck charm to the upcoming East Coast Championships. It was going to be packed tomorrow, as with the surfers arriving from all around the state. The crew had to give their all.
Eleanor was the last to leave. She always was, and not because she'd lock the place up. Her hand would linger on the wooden pillars that held their shabby little shack intact. Graze her eyes over the anchor sign on the top.
She sensed someone walking towards her.
The boy was tall, she could tell, even in the dark. His hair was all over the place, strands sticking up from its end like he had run his fingers through it, and he carried a lean, nonchalant posture. But it was when their eyes did she almost halted.
He had the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. It was a fascinating colour — a mixture of blue and green and all the shades of the sea.
And Eleanor knew for sure that she had never seen this boy before.
“Are you lost?” she asked, offering a smile.
The boy blinked and stopped a few steps in front of her, shifting his weight back and forth. Almost as if he was stumbling.
She straightened up. “You're not drunk, are you?”
“Not yet,” he slurred. “Why is it so dark? I don't remember it being this dark. Has it always been this dark?”
Oh, stars. “It's past ten,” she said gently. Eleanor paused, glancing from the boy to the closed shack behind her, debating her options quickly.
The boy started to sway.
“Okay!” She rushed towards him with an arm around his waist. “I'm going to get you some water, okay? It'll make you feel better.”
“Nothing ever feels better.”
She froze, frowning at him. It wasn't so much his words that disturbed her, but how he said them. Dropped into a whisper, like dust blown quietly in the wind.
He's just drunk.
The road back to the shack was a feat for both of them. Though tall enough to reach his shoulder, the boy was much heavier than he looked. There was a few minutes of awkward stumbling before she all but dropped him on one of the stools.
“You don't have to do this,” he muttered, eyes fluttering to stay conscious.
“Don't be silly,” she chuckled. “It's a small town. People here take care of each other. You must be new.”
A pause. “I am.”
While she went inside to illuminate the place, she used the chance to steal a few glances. It was bright enough that she could see the shadows on his face, but not enough to discern his expression. It was a startling sight. Not because he was mysterious, but because it might be the contrary — that she, in fact, knew him.
“Do I know you from somewhere?”
He stared at her. “I don't think so.”
The bland confusion on his face convinced her enough. “Right, sorry,” she shook her head, “I must be mistaking you for someone else. You just look familiar somehow.”
He didn't answer.
Still no response even after she offered him the water bottle. The silence was not entirely unpleasant, however; the sounds of waves crashing in the distance and muffled music from up the streets filled the empty space.