He had placed his elbows on his knees. I observed this fragile structure. His eyes were darkened by his scowl which imperceptibly creased his face. I lingered on the curve of his long eyelashes soaked in the same ink as his pupils, riveted on the grey water. The fresh sea mist was shaking the crumpled rags he seemed to have put on in a hurry, making them flap in the wind. I had really taken a liking to him. He had a bad temper, was a bit of a hothead and we were not really likeminded me. But he had triggered something in me.

A soft late afternoon light colored his face with gold, his eyes were fixed on the grey waves. It smelled like a wood fire.

- What? muttered R, without taking his eyes off the gray sea. I laid down on the sand and closed my eyes.

- Sometimes I feel like I'm trapped inside myself.

He didn’t say anything.

- I have something boiling inside of me and at the same time there is this other me that is physically alive and feels like it is anesthetized. It's the same feeling you get when you're artificially put to sleep and you want to move at all costs, but you can't. It's a terrible feeling. It's a really terrible feeling. Something stirred in the back of my mind.

- But you are not anesthetized... he mumbled.

I pondered his words for a moment.

- You know, I made the decision not long ago to quit my job. It was a bit scary, but mostly liberating. And I think listening to your piano piece had a lot to do with it. You inspired me, really. You gave me a new creative breath.

R was listening but not saying anything.

I was so tired... I didn't know why. The sound of the waves lulled my thoughts: the green water flowed in and out. I watched the thousands of droplets collide, explode, shine, foam and form the green fabric of the sea. Something clear shone under the waves: a young girl slowly emerged from the water. First it was her feet, then her legs, her buttocks, her chest, her shoulders and finally her face. She leaned gently on the shore, her head resting on her folded forearms. Her skin was so pale that it seemed translucent, her hair traced dark arabesques on the waves. She looked so soft, and yet... She opened her eyes, that were so black that one could not distinguish the iris from the pupil. Her gaze was magnetic and gave off a powerful -but only apparent- aura of assurance.

- You are the rose R was talking about, aren't you? I'm sure R would like you....

A shiver of contentment ran through her. She imperceptibly straightened her head and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. Her fingernails shone like small opals.

- I'm not at my best today...

- I'm not playing this game, I sighed. She frowned. I regretted my words a little.

- Isn't the water too cold? You shouldn't catch a cold after all, I said awkwardly.

She looked at me angrily.

- I am strong, you know! She seemed to get carried away: why do you all think I can't protect myself? She stopped, her eyes became dreamy.

- Protect you from what?

She didn't seem to hear, she seemed to be elsewhere.

- What is it? I asked, intrigued. She seemed to come back to her, from far, very far away, from a place that was inaccessible to me. Her eyes softened.

- It is just that... You remind me of someone. She straightened up and looked carefully at her reflection in the water, suddenly very serious. Her hair fell beautifully along her neck, following the curve of her shoulder until the hollow of her collarbone. Her eyes darkened, she seemed less sure of herself.

- You seem somewhat faded, my rose. Who are you talking about?

-About the one I love.

-Where is he then?

She crossed her arms and turned around abruptly, her hair tracing a perfect half circle. The muscles of her back were tense under her pale skin.

- Elsewhere.

- Oh?

- You'll be alone too.

- Hm.

I looked back at the water. The waves had a really strange hue, but it was beautiful the way they were rising, merging with the clouds and then fatally falling back from where they had been born, exploding their crests into a thick white foam.

- There are more and more sheep, you should be careful, I said.

- Sheep?

She looked horrified.

- I hate sheep. I don't know how to face them alone!

Her big black eyes looked into mine. I reached for the water, grainy.

And woke up on the beach.

︎︎︎ PART II ︎︎︎