Ella groaned and the sound echoed across the empty caravan. Her entire body throbbed. She blinked once, twice and found herself staring at the high ceiling of a cave. Beautiful glowing gems lit a path across the dark surroundings. The last thing she could recall was that she was standing on the shores of the golden sands of the beach of her childhood. Life had recently been hard and she had wanted a break, a relief. She had wanted to drown in her old memories, of things she had found and of the things she had lost. She had no idea how she had reached here. One moment she was walking along the sands and into the caves where they had played hide and seeks and treasure hunts and the next moment here she was waking without ever knowing when she had fallen asleep in the first place.
Suddenly a smell hit her and whispers of sound echoed in the wind. A smell so familiar it was calling her, a smell so close to her heart. It had been so long since she had come here. Denkin’s shop stood right where it always had been before the world, her world had changed. But the earth had still kept spinning around leaving her stuck, stranded, unable to forget and move on as she was rooted in her own memories. The roof and front stall of the shop was visible just by the edge selling shells and corals of the most unique kind and of all their childish dreams. The beautiful, majestic and mighty ocean in front of her. The salty smell flowed with the wind. The sun shining like a thousand diamonds and twinkling stars on the surface of the sea. She stood took a great gulp of the air long forgotten. Her leg took of her own accord running to the edge of the cliff in front.
She knew logically she could not return here. Her heart felt heavy and sad she considered the very real possibility that it was not true but just a figment of her imagination and memories that haunted her. This was not her reality. It was a long-forgotten time and a long-forgotten place. And as much as she tried, as much she
wanted to she knew she could not return. She had to let go was what her physiatrist had said. But she so desperately did want to return, wanted to change the laws of time and space to get back here.
Well, maybe what her physiatrist had said was correct. Her brain was trying to escape so hard, was trying to escape the reality that she was in maybe she had hallucinated the whole thing. Maybe her head had played out her childish fantasies. Maybe she was still stuck in the memories that had never stopped haunting her even after so many years. But even though it might be a hallucination. She was determined to play along.
Her sister’s laughter echoed in the wind as she called out her name. Gone were the worries upon her innocent and childhood face and she her happy voice screamed “I will catch you this time Ella!”. She climbed the short cliff and into the cave and passed right through Ella as if she was nothing more the air around her. Ella gasped as her sister went right through her as if she had never existed calling Ella’s name and running deeper into the caves behind her.
Ella’s feet carried her towards the edge of the vast ocean. She walked across the golden sands and stared at the deep blue sea washing over the shores. Her feet suddenly hit a pretty blue lavender shell and she picked it up and put it in her pocket to show Mr. Denkin her latest discovery, just like she had always done as a child. Her feet passed his shop and she put the shell upon the stall in his empty shop. Her feet had their own mind carrying her to an already set destination. She walked along the familiar sandy path by the shop and into their usual picnic spot just a few meters away from the sea.
The picnic spot was not empty and a gasp fell out of Ella’s mouth as she saw her mother sitting peacefully staring into the sea. Her mother turned towards her. Ella stood there transfixed reading every detail of her face. The way her eyebrows scrunched up in confusion and concern. The way her eyes examined her with a small dimple that always appeared when she was concerned and curious. “Do I know you?” her sweet voice echoed and Ella just stood their unshed tears in her eyes as she drank in every detail till she drowned in it. “Hey…hey sweetie….what happened?” her mother came and embraced her like she had always done for anyone even strangers who had ever needed comfort. Ella couldn’t hold back her tears as she broke down and sobbed
in her mother’s arms. There was so much she wanted to say. She wanted to say she has missed her with every fibre of her being. She had wanted to say she loved so much. She wanted to say how she still couldn’t move on. But nothing escaped her mouth except a choked sob as she clutched her mother more tightly in her arms conveying all the unsaid words. “Let it all out sweetie” she soothed and rubbed her back like she always used to whenever she was upset and she melted into the warm embrace. And so she stood there much past the time the sun had begun to set she really thought maybe this was her second chance to escape her reality.
Suddenly she heard her sister’s laughter and her mother set to prepare snacks for her and wrapped her in a warm blanket. As her sister neared her mother rushed to welcome her. Ella sat and smiled at the familiar scene when she felt a tickling sensation. Wind gushed across her face as she suddenly found herself back in the cave where she had woken up. She was lying down at the same spot staring up at the same high ceiling of a cave with beautiful glowing gems. It was a scrawly mess of blue lines as if someone was writing fast. A flurry of thoughts flashed across as tried to grasp on reality. She looked at her hand and her gaze fell on her watch. She stared in horror as she realised she was late her sister was arriving with her niece and she had promised to greet them at the train station. She ran across the beach to the parking lot and began her journey and throughout the whole ride, she thought about the entire incident. She knew it hadn’t been real yet she still couldn’t let go of how real it had felt. She arrived at the train station just as the whistle blew from the train that had just reached the station.
“Look who I found” was the first thing that popped out of her sister’s mouth as she stepped down from the platform. A familiar face arrived as Ella stared at the old face of Mr. Denkin. He informed them he had come to visit his grandchildren and they promised to have tea later that day. The tea was a pleasant affair as they talked about everything and anything well past afternoon and into the late evening. “It was nice meeting you Ella,” Mr. Denkin said as he pulled her into a warm embrace. He handed her a small package and whispered into her ear “ You don’t have to let go Ella because we all are always here held in your heart.” Ella opens the small package and gasped in surprise as she stared at the blue lavender shell that she had kept upon his stall.