When the Past Met The Present And Spoke of The Future

She awoke on the couch the sun streaming through the window. A sense of peace washed over her. A feeling of a new day, a fresh start settled in her inner self. She set her feet on the wicker rug and rubbed her toes back and forth, allowing the straw to tickle the bottom of her feet. She looked out the bay window at the sparkling water moving with the current under the early afternoon sun. She spotted far off in the distance a seal riding the blue waves. The sun beckoned her into the warm air. Pushing herself off the couch and out onto the sandy patio, she felt for the first time, lighter and freer. She stretched her arms up to the sky like a child thanking the heavens for this beautiful day. Her eyes closed, feeling the sunshine penetrated her mind and lighting up her insides. Adina came and laid down on the porch next to her feeling the sunshine on her own long hair.
Her phone rang from inside the house, snapping Zehira from her thoughts.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded sounded…happy, even to her.
“Uh, hi. Zehira?” A familiar male voice came over the phone. Her heart stopped at the sound of Ray’s voice.
“Ray?” Her voice shook, hoping from the bottom of her heart that it wasn’t her ex-boyfriend.
“Yeah! Hey, how’s it going?” His chipper voice came through the line.
“Ray, what do you want?” She regained her composure and confidence.
“I wanted to see if we could meet up. I have some good news. Well more like great news.”
“What about your girlfriend? Wouldn’t she want to hear the great news.” She retorted sharply.
“I broke up with her. I realized that you were the one I wanted and I was too scared to admit to myself so I didn’t treat you with the respect you deserved. Will you please meet me? Just coffee. I know you can’t say ‘no’ to coffee.”
Zehira agreed. She didn’t know why, or maybe she did but she didn’t want to admit it to herself. Her mother’s words echoed through her brain once she hung up the phone. Never make a decision based on fear. Her mother was a big part of her life growing up. She was her best friend and when she died, it completely tore her apart. The Marines were the only thing that saved her, knowing that maybe one day she could prevent someone else’s best friend to be taken away from them. She thought back to the days leading up to that fateful day.
She was a senior in high school, a very average student. She never cared much for school since she spent most of her time like any other high school girl, hanging out with her friends, shopping at the mall and her personal favorite, surfing. Just a week before she received the worst news of her life, she had broken up with her boyfriend, a quarterback on the football team. Her friends never understood why she called it off. She told everyone that she was simply too busy with homework to continue a relationship, but the real reason that she didn’t tell anyone was that he pressured her for sex. She had told him in the very beginning that she wasn’t going to sleep with him. However, like many guys that age, he just figured that he would convince her otherwise; he couldn’t.
She thought back to when he found out about her parent’s death, he came up to her at school. She thought he was going to offer condolences like so many other students had, but instead he tried to use her grieving to “comfort” her in the privacy her empty house. Repulsed by his immaturity and selfishness, she turned around and never spoke to him again.
Coming back to the present situation, she felt that maybe if she still had no feeling for Ray after seeing him after many months then she would feel like she could allow herself to fall for David. With this in mind, she hoped that she would feel released from the past and she could finally look to the future.

She met him a few hours later at a nearby coffee-house. She got there a few minutes early and found an open seat overlooking the ocean. Ray walked in the door wearing a pair of really nice dark pants and a dress shirt. Zehira raised her eyebrows at the unusually formal attire. He caught her eye and flashed a smile showing off his recently whitened teeth and sat across from her.
Within a few seconds of seeing him, she realized that it would always be about the money with him. That he wanted someone to be by his side and support him through each decision because he had the money. Because the money made him deserve it. He would never respect her decisions and would constantly use the money to manipulate her into doing what he wanted. She wanted to be an equal partner in life. Not a trophy. Not a prize to be won, and the only reason the prize stuck around was because of the money to support a lifestyle she had no desire to live.
Instead of staying and talking, Zehira rose from her seat and walked straight out the door without a word. Turning the corner, she walked the short distance to David’s medical office. A few minutes passed when she heard the slowing of a black sedan pulling up near the sidewalk next to her. Ray stepped out of the back, obviously used to being driven around by a chauffeur. Not even bothering to slow down for him, Zehira kept walking. It took Ray a second to catch up to her, grabbing her wrist and turning her toward him. Of course, this confrontation happened to be right in front of David’s medical office where he had a great view of Ray and Zehira having from what seemed to escalate from a conversation to a heated monologue from Ray. She stood there taking each fiery word from Ray in strides. It wasn’t until he spat in her face that he ‘was glad that her parents weren’t alive to see her throw her life away instead of being with someone who would make her life easy and comfortable’. Tears stung her eyes and her hand instinctively raised and met his cheek, making an impressive thwack sound. Seeing he had lost the battle, he made a last retort that she couldn’t here and walked back to his car and drove away.

David watched her through the window of his office. More than anything, he wanted to be there for her. Hold her in his arms and tell her everything was going to be okay. He saw her wipe away a tear from her green eyes. His gut ached with the desire to make her smile. Somehow, he felt an undeniable pull toward her; a love for her unlike anything else he had felt before. His eyes followed her as she turned around and trudged back the way she came.
David rose from his desk and stood, still staring out the window to where she stood. He knew. Somehow, he knew. She was the one. The one he was going to share his life with. The one he wanted to tell good news to for the rest of his life. The one he wanted to hold his hand through the worst times. The one he wanted to fight for, the one he wanted to prove himself worthy of for the rest of his life. This realization, there at work, shook him to his core.

An Unlikely Savoir

Chapter 17 Husky

“Hi there!” Aren’t you the cutest thing?” Zehira bent down to the cage that held a 9 month old labrador. She was at the local kennel looking for a dog to adopt.

“This is Charlie.” The kennel worker said introducing the white Lab. “We found him on the side of the road digging through the trash.”

“He’s a sweetie.” She stood back up and walked to the next cage where there was a beautiful white husky napping on the cold cement.

“This is Adina. She’s been with us for a year or so.”

“Why hasn’t she been adopted?”

“She has a lot of energy and people here don’t want to take care of her.”

“Can I meet her?” Zehira asked the worker.

“Of course.” The worker unlocked the cage as Adina awoke from her nap and stepped carefully out of the cage. The worker clipped a leash on the husky.

 

She opened her front door of the beach-house and unclipped the leash to her new dog, Adina. The husky followed her around the house and then settled down at the foot of the couch. Zehira opened the glass sliding door and whistled, inviting her new pet into the warm sunshine.

“Come on Adina.” She steps outside onto the patio and Adina follows. They walk down to the beach and the dog races toward the water.

Zehira races after her but then slows when she realizes that the husky loves the ocean. She walks along the shoreline, her feet splashing in the ankle high water and Adina follows. Her dog pranced in the foam going no further than 50 feet away from her new owner.

A man comes up from behind Zehira. She is surprised by this stranger but doesn’t say anything, hoping that the man will continue in front of her. Adina stops running in the water and begins to slowly make her way over to her owner.

“Hey there sexy, how ya doing?” The man walks in front of her and turns around, facing Zehira.

She steps to the side avoiding the man and quickens her pace. He catches up quickly.

“Come on, sweetheart. Give me a smile.”

“I’m not interested.” She continues to avoid eye contact with the stranger and walks faster.

“Oh yeah?” He grabs her by the wrist.

“Let go of me now.” She stops in her tracks and keeps her tone even but forceful.

“Kitty likes it rough huh?” He pulls her closer to him, keeping a tight grip on her wrist.

“I said let go.” She pushed down her Marine instincts in hopes that the stranger would give up and walk away.

“Yeah but you don’t mean it-”

Her instincts kicked in and she twists his arm and throws him on the ground. She places her knee on top of his chest and stares him in the eye.

“Leave me alone.” She says forcefully.

He breathlessly nods his head and she rises to her feet and walks in the opposite direction. She didn’t get very far until he caught up to her and threw himself on top of her, body slamming her into the sand. He was pushing her face into the gritty sand making it impossible for her to call out. Suddenly, she heard a scream and he was no longer on top of her. She crawled out from under his grasp. Turning around, she saw her attackers leg was in the jaws of the husky. Adina had raced from behind and chomped down on the man’s calf. She quickly jumped to her feet in surprise at her dog’s loyalty. Not wasting another second, Zehira raced down the beach leaving the man whimpering in pain as he clutched his punctured leg.  

She ran through the sand and didn’t stop until she reached her house a few minutes later. She burst into her house, safe from harm. Breathlessly, she raced around her house locking each window and entrance. Looking around the room, she realized that something more like someone was missing. She went to the back and saw her loyal dog sitting at the back patiently, waiting to be let in. She threw open the door and embraced the dog in grateful thanks, feeling the quiet thump thump of Adina’s heartbeat. She could feel panic rising in her chest so she focused on the soft feel of Adina’s hair through her fingers. Within minutes, it subsided and she returned to normal. She gave the sweet dog a gentle pet in gratitude; Adina had helped her in more ways than one.

Changing Tides

Changing Tides

Ding-Dong.

“Coming!” Zehira rushed to the front door and was surprised to see Shira at her front door.
“H-hi. What are you doing here?” She opened the door further and invited her friend in.
“I am here because I figured that you could use a friend.” Shira walked inside the house holding her baby in one arm and a bottle of wine in another.
“Wow! This house hasn’t changed at all. Well, this is new.” She stopped in the foyer to look at the picture of Zehira’s parents.
“Oh yeah. That. My parents sent me that picture while they were in Israel. It was the last time I saw them.” She quickly walked into the kitchen and away from the picture.
“So. How are you doing?” Shira elongated the words as if she knew something that she wanted Zehira to bring up.
“I’m good. Fine. Great. And who’s this?” She motioned to the baby in Shira’s arms.
“This is Kai.” She looked sweetly into the small baby’s hazel eyes.
“Kai?”
“It’s hawaiian.” She chuckled lightly at the question. “It means the sea; lovable. I went to Hawaii during my second trimester and fell in love with the culture.”
“Yeah. I know. It was all you would talk about when you came back.”
“Oh here.” Shira handed her friend the bottle of wine that she had been carrying.
“No. No, I don’t drink.” She took a step back, rejecting the bottle from Shira.
“Okay.” She responded slowly. “Why?”
“Um… I can’t drink anymore. I have been having trouble with…uh, stuff and I turned to drinking.” She looked down in embarrassment.
“Oh! Omigosh. I’m so sorry. If I had known-” Shira face dropped in hearing this about her friend.
“Don’t worry about it. How is motherhood treating you?”
“I love it. It is so amazing. Besides the sleep deprivation, it is so wonderful.” She looked down at her sleeping baby daughter in love.
They made their way outside to the patio as the sun glistened off the sandy shore.
“How’s David doing?” Shira pressed.
“You waste no time, do you.” A smile grew across her face.
“Well I want to know.” She adjusted Kai from one arm to the other.
“He is…so amazing. He is like Superman. Sweet, caring, sensitive and so hot.” She could feel her cheeks growing warm.
“Really?” She settled back into her chair and smiled. “So you like him then?”
“Yeah. I like him.”
“Have you kissed him?”
“Yes. We kissed.”
“Have you, ya know?”
“What?! No!” Zehira raised her voice in shock at the inquiry.
“Its a honest question.”
“No it’s not. You know me, Shira. I don’t do that until I am married. It’s a commitment thing. I don’t want to, you know, do that until I know that he is committed to me.” Zehira reminded her friend.
“I know, I know. I just can’t believe that you are still a virgin. I mean, you lived with Ramon but never slept with him.”
“Like I said. It’s a loyalty thing.”
“You are truly a fascinating person.” Shira looked down at Kai who was beginning to wake. “Here. Could you? I really have to pee.” She stretched out her daughter to Zehira.
“Sure, sure.” Zehira took the small baby into her arms and swayed back and forth. She gazed at Kai taking note of the small dimples on her face and the chubby cheeks. She sat there on the patio enamored with the beautiful infant.
“She likes you.” Shira said from behind her.
“Do you want her back?”
“Eventually. But you can hold her for now. It will give me a chance to stretch my arms.” “This is such a gorgeous view. I’m totally jealous.” She settled back into her chair and looked out to the ocean.
“It really is.” Zehira muttered down at the cooing baby.

Intervention

This inspiration behind this post: I love how David plays the part of the boyfriend so well that I wanted to explore the protectiveness of his personality as well. Because Zehira is still dealing with PTSD I wanted to show how the different parts of his character can cope with the changing emotions of ‘shell shock’.

Chapter 14

David stepped into the kitchen and leaned against the counter.

“That was a good run. How’s the stitches? Holding together?”

Zehira pulled up her shirt, and looked down at her toned tummy. The stitches were all in one place.

“That was a good run. It felt so amazing to train again. And everything stayed right where they were supposed to be.” She motioned to her stitches. Instead of reaching for a glass of water, she went for the opened bottle of wine sitting on the granite countertop. She tipped her head back, pressed the bottle against her lips and sucked out the rest of the few drops of wine.

“You have to stop drinking Zehira.”

“Yeah sure. Okay. I’ll get right on that.” And she pulled out another bottle of wine.

“It’s not good for you. You have to stop.”

“There are a lot worse things for me than a drink every now and then.”

“But it’s not every now and then, is it Zehira?”

“Who are you? My mother?” She took a swig from the bottle.

“Come on Z. You’ve got to stop. You’re still drunk from the night before.”

She scoffed and sank down on the couch. Her demeanor had made a complete turn around.

“It hurts too much.” She muttered to herself, wine bottle in hand. David walked over to where she was and sat down on the couch next to her.

“I can help you, there are people to help you.” He took his hand in her hand and used the other to take the bottle from her hand. “I can help you.” He placed his arm around her, pulled her close to him and leaned back onto the couch. They sat there on the couch watching the ocean turn orange to midnight blue. Out in the dark water, lights on the oil rigs lit up casting reflections on the water. Zehira finally fell asleep in his embrace. David stayed awake keeping watch over her while he watched each of the oil rigs light up, signaling night. He was beginning to drift off when Zehira began to twitch. He could feel her pulse race. He was awake now and on alert, hoping that she would peacefully sleep.

He watched her head throw itself from side to side and listened to her whimper. He began to shake her shoulders, hoping to wake her up.

Zehira suddenly bolted from his arms, feeling electric currents course through her body. Her chest heaved as she forced the oxygen into her lungs. Her hands shook uncontrollably as her face wildly looked around the room. Gunfire was still erupting inside her head as her eyes saw flashbacks of explosions and people lying in the streets.

David, now standing on his feet, watched her begin to race toward the closet. She reached for the wine bottle on the shelf and was about to drink directly from the bottle when David raced over and grabbed the bottle from her.

“No please. Please let me…please.” She sobbed, lunging for the bottle that David kept over his head out of her reach. He pulled her to the door and dragged her hysterical body outside into the darkness. He picked her up and carried her to the water. He knew from his medical experiences that the cold water would bring her to reality. He sat her down in the freezing cold water as she clutched onto his neck as if for dear life. The frigid water rushed over their legs. She shook with sobs as her eyes continued to flashback people dying around her. He hurriedly splashed the surf on her face trying to wake her up. Zehira felt the cold water drip from her face, bringing her back to the present and out of the past. Slowly the her mind focused to the watery surroundings. She lifted her head to smell the salty air of the dark blue water before her. His arms held tightly around her torso, promising safety.  Like a miracle, she felt a wave of peace wash over her. The flashbacks ended as her hands stopped shaking. The blue waves splashed onto the shore and creeped up to their feet. As the water receded, it took away the hurt and the ‘shell shock’. The water seemed to whistle as it slid up and down the shore. She turned around facing David, her tear-stained cheeks shone in the moonlight. She planted her hands on his solid chest and leaned in to brush her lips against his. She turned back around and placed her hands on his that were hugging her stomach. David leaned his head to rest on top of her brown hair and sighed.

“I will always be here for Z. I’m always here.” He kissed the top of her head and swayed with ocean tide.

“Thank you.” She whispered leaning back to his ear. Zehira rested her weary head on his chest and closed her eyes listening to the splashing waves meet the sandy surface.

Protected

The inspiration behind this post:

My grandfather was a Navy Seal. When he returned from Vietnam he began to drink, a lot. Thankfully, he realized the hole that he was digging for himself and forced himself to stop drinking. This post is loosely based on that need to numb the pain and past that is thought to be found at the bottom of a bottle.

 

She woke up screaming that night, still feeling the Afghan sun beat down on her back as she sat straight up. She closed her mouth once realizing that it was just a dream. Less like a dream and more like memories. Her heart pounded in her ears, pulsating the sweat through her shirt. She stared into the dark corners of her room. She lunged to her bedside table and began dialing David’s number. Before he could pick up the phone, she hung up. A feeling of terror combined with extreme depression gripped her heart. She rushed into the kitchen flinging on the lights while she rummaged through the cabinets. Finally, she found what she was looking for. She reached for a glass but decided that she didn’t need one and started to guzzle the vodka. Choking on the strong taste, she spit it out into the sink only to press her lips against the bottle and tip her head to the ceiling. She stopped drinking long enough to catch her breath only to take another mouthful. The last thing she remembered before she blacked out was the sound of the vodka bottle crashing to the floor.
She awoke a few hours later lying in a sea of broken glass. The vodka bottle had shattered to a million pieces around her. She pulled herself to her feet and carefully stepped around the broken glass to reach the broom. After cleaning the puddle of liquor and what was left of the bottle, she stepped into the shower hoping to wash the stench of vodka from herself. Zehira could smell liquor coming from her as the warm water ran down her olive toned skin. Still tipsy from the night before, she stumbled out of the bathroom and to the closet where she pulled on the first thing she saw.
She thought back to her parents and the stories they would tell her of Israel. She could almost hear their voices in her head constantly reminding her of her namesake. “Zehira.” they would say. “It means protected. Never forget that. God will always protect you”. Her chest felt weighted down by a heavy rock when she thought back to her parents. Both killed by a roadside bomb in Israel on a vacation, it was that day that forced Zehira to become a Marine. The unmistakable call of duty knocked on her heart that day. Fresh outta high school she drove herself to Camp Pendleton and enlisted.

Needing to sober up, she made herself a pot of coffee and chowed down on a burrito-her favorite hangover food. Her mind kept going back to last night’s escapades. The vodka had finally helped numb the pain that was so painfully prevalent in her life. She knew that drinking was a bad road to go down so she resisted the temptation and instead walked outside to take her mind off the nagging alcohol craving. The air wasn’t as warm today as she dug her toes into the sand. She followed the surfers on the waves with her head. In the distance, she still make out the unmistakable silhouette of David on the water. She gave him a wave with her hand as he walked out of the water to her direction. He looked like a model as he jogged out the water with his surfboard under her arm.
She met him halfway. He shook his water from his hair and sprayed water on her tan skin. He smiled at her and then his nose squished at the smell of liquor on her breath as her neared.
“Have you been drinking?” He asked taking a step back.
“I had a few drinks last night. Why?” She asked curiously.
“Cause I can smell it on you. You sure that it was only a few drinks?”He watched her facial expressions. doubting her.
“Yeah. Just one shot of Vodka.” She lied.
David still doubted her but decided to let it go.They walked along the shore line for a bit until the sun rose higher in the sky and he had to leave for work. He kissed her gently goodbye and resisted the urge to wrinkle his nose at the taste of vodka on her lips.
She was preparing for bed that when she could feel the memories begin to flood her mind. Night was always her weak spot. She walked over to the pantry and stared at the bottle of wine on the shelf. She stands there for a few seconds fighting her willpower until she forced her feet to move in the opposite direction. She walked aimlessly around the house until she got in car. She drove up and down the PCH until the sky was pitch black with the LA lights

First Date

People who have been through traumatic experiences that have shaped them and made them into the people they are, have sometimes wondered if someone will be able to look past their scars to the real them. David is that person for Zehira. He sees past her hurt, her struggles and looks directly to her heart.  He sees the real her and finds her beautiful despite her scars. On a personal level, I pray everyday for someone to see me the way that David sees Zehira and the way God sees us: with unconditional love.

Chapter 12

Around an hour before David was going to pick her up, Zehira headed to her room to prepare. Searching her closet she pulled out a white flowing peasant top with beading along the v-neckline. She found dark blue-jeans in the back of her closet as well. She pulled on her outfit and looked into the mirror. She may not dress like a girl often, but she could admit that it look pretty darn good. She spent a few moment in the mirror staring at her long brown hair. She decided to keep her hair down loose and wavy. Grabbing a few strands of brown hair, she pulled it back with a hibiscus flower clip that her mother gave her for her 16th birthday. Thrilled with her casual yet elegant look, she even decided to apply some mascara and lip gloss. She stepped back to admire herself in the mirror. Reading the clock at a quarter to one, she rushed to front door where David had just rang the doorbell. She quickly slipped her black flip-flops on her feet and opened the door. David seemed frozen for a few seconds until he let out a low whistle.
“Wow! You sure do clean up nice.” His eyes giving her the once over.
Zehira could feel her cheeks turn red and hoped he didn’t notice. He took her hand in his. He guided her to his black jeep waiting in the driveway. Like a gentlemen, he opened the door for her.
Once seated at the restaurant, they made small conversation as they waited for their food to arrive. David then asked: “So, you want to tell what happened yesterday?” She explained parts of her memories, but only scratched the surface. She didn’t want scare him away with the details of war, but she told how she often felt like drowning. Unfortunately, she had even experienced survivor’s guilt especially after one of her unit stepped on a mine and blew up in front of her. Though this was the first time that she opened up, she felt totally safe with him. David listened intently as Zehira told him some of what she had seen overseas.
“Anyway, enough talk about me. What about you? Any traumatic experiences you’ve gone through?” She asked, attempting to change the subject.
“Aside from falling through icy pond in the winter, nothing like what you have gone through.” He rested his hand on hers as it lay on the table and gave it a tender squeeze. Being with him felt like a movie, like it wasn’t even real. Like she was just watching herself and David from across the room talking and laughing with this amazing guy. She felt so comfortable with him. They continued to talk and share stories about their past and opinions on recent subjects. She laughed had so much fun with David that she was sad when their plates were cleared until he said:
“Care for a cup of coffee and a walk on the beach?” He said straightening up.
“Really? You still want to be with me, after all that? I mean, there isn’t much left of me.” She asked unsure of what he thought of her.
“Absolutely. I’m sure that there is more to you then war stories.” He stood and extended his hand to her.
“If you’re sure.” She took his hand and stood up right next to him.
“I’m sure.” He said looking deep into her green eyes. And they walked out hand in hand.

They arrived at the sparkling beach after a quick coffee stop at Starbucks. They combed the beach for seashells. Many of the seashells seemed to be taken away from the high tide last night, but there were still a few mussels scattered in the damp sand. David collected the mussels in one hand and held Zehira’s hand in the other. It felt so good to be free and happy with David.
Walking along the beach, Zehira stopped and turn to him looking straight into his soft blue eyes.
“Why? Why do you like me? I am a sobbing mess half the time, but you don’t seem to care. I don’t get it.” She stared at his face for a reply.
“Because I do. I like that you are real. I don’t see you as broken. I see a smoking hot woman who has some wounds; it will just take time to learn to heal. You have such an amazing heart that it’s impossible not to like you.” He glanced at the shimmering water and then to Zehira’s face. He pulled her closer to him. She tenderly looked up into his eyes.
“You really think so?” She asked in almost a whisper as she leaned in closer.
He leaned in to her and sweetly met his lips with hers in response. They stood there in a tender kiss with the waves crashing onto the shore as a backdrop. He released her, still feeling her warm breath on his chin.
“I promise.” He said in a low whisper and turned to the ocean waves. She slipped an arm around his waist, feeling grateful that she wasn’t alone anymore. The water rushed up to a nearby rocky cliff and sprayed its mist over the rocks and high into the air.

Happy? Me? HA!

The inspiration behind this post:

In continuation from the previous post, David was the knight in leather flip-flops. As a knight, he stays with the damsel in distress until he knows that she is safe and taken care of. 

It was nearly dark when David drove into Zehira’s driveway and parked the car. Turning off the ignition, he turned to look at her and spoke in a serious tone.

“I think I want to stay the night with you, in case anything happens. I’ll crash on the couch so you won’t even know I’m there.”

Her eyes widened. “I really don’t think that necessary. I’ll be fine.” She contradicted.

“I think it is. I don’t want anything to happen and have you running out into the water again.” David in turn spoke powerfully.

She was too tired to argue, so she gave in. Besides, it might be nice having someone there with her. Once inside, she went to the closet and pulled out an extra pillow and blankets. She set them on the spare couch. She turned to walk to her bedroom when David spoke gently.

“I’ll be right here if you need me okay?” David reassured her. She nodded and mustered a smiled in return.

She laid in bed staring at the ceiling for hours. She was so afraid of having another nightmare that she forced herself to stay awake. Remembering that David was just in the other room, she climbed out of bed and walked softly to the couch where he was lying. David was still awake and staring out the window into the darkness. Noticing her, he propped himself up on his elbow.

“Hey. Are you okay? What are you still doing awake?” He asked with concern.

“Um…would you mind?” She said softly motioning to the couch where he was lying. David opened up the blanket and she slid in, facing the dark ocean. She laid her head on his open arm and brought the blanket up to her chin. Her bare feet moved across his legs; she felt electric currents shoot up her legs as she settled in front of his chest. She felt his defined chest muscles ripple as he gently stroked her arm and nestled in behind her. It didn’t take long before they both fell asleep, safe in each other’s arms.  

She awoke the next morning to find David gone. Instead, there was a post-it stuck to her forehead. It read: Sorry I had to leave. I had to go work. See you later. David.

She chuckled at his clever way to leave her a note. She rose from the couch with a lightness in her step, despite the pain in her side. For the first time in…well, a long time, she didn’t feel so alone. She sauntered across the room to the kitchen. As she filled up the coffee maker with vanilla flavored coffee beans, she noticed another post-it on her refrigerator door. It was David’s handwriting and on it with his phone number. She smiled and pulled out her phone from her robe pocket. She typed: thanks for hanging out last night, it meant a lot. She pressed ‘send’ and turned back to the coffee maker as the delicious aroma of vanilla extract filled the warm air. She took her coffee on the back porch to watch the ocean. Perched on the glistening sand, her house had a beautiful view of the beach.  She watched as the surfers paddled out to sea and sat atop their boards, waiting for the perfect wave. Her eyes were fixated on a surfer in particular. She had short black hair that was barely past her shoulders. Zehira watched as the woman caught the perfect and stood up on the board with the ease of a very experienced surfer. Her eyes were following the woman as surge through the water when she heard her phone’s text tone sound. She saw that there was a text from David:

Anytime :). Before she could reply, he had already sent another message.  How would you feel about lunch? Maybe around 1? We would go somewhere super casual. She placed her coffee on the patio table needing two hands to respond.

That sounds nice. Where? She pressed send and anxiously waited his text. Her phone went off again signaling her of his David’s reply.

I know this great place just off the highway. It’s Italian, but not fancy. You in? I can pick you up at a quarter to one?

Yes. I’m in. She quickly texted back.

Okay. See you soon.

Zehira dropped her phone in her lap. She felt a smile spread across her face. She, for the first time in a very long time, felt happy. She really was excited to see David. This time, she had no plans to go crazy on him like she did yesterday.

Knight in Leather Flip-Flops

The Inspiration behind this post.

When writing this post, the feelings and emotions of the character flowed out me and to the keyboard. I really enjoy writing these scenes because it felt so real. Everyone has felt at one time or another, like life is too much to handle sometimes. Our pain can manifest in many different ways: lashing out at people, lashing out at ourselves, and sometimes the pain can be so overwhelming that it just spills over and we can’t control it like it is with this character.

Chapter 10

She drove mindless down the road to the nearest grocery store. She felt like a true California girl as she entered the store and noticed all the sun-bleached blond hair scattered around the store. She wandered through the aisles grabbing cooking and baking ingredients alike. She looked around store and smiled to herself at the sight of all the customers wearing flip-flops and the same brand of black shades. She passed the junk food aisle feeling a temptation for a big bag of frosted pink animals cookies. The frosted animal cookies brought back childhood memories of her parents giving her the cookies for dessert while telling her stories about their life in Israel. They would now be memories of her parents, of stories told. She made her way to the produce aisle where she picked out the freshest and most colorful looking batch of tomatoes, carrots, apples, grapes and lettuce.

She was finding the freshest batch of lettuce when she felt her hands begin to tremble. She quickly paid for her items and left the store. She rushed to her car tossing the bags in the back seat. Attempting to lower her soaring heart rate, she gripped her hands on the steering wheel, focusing on the ocean horizon. Although she knew from experience that the more you try to push the past aside, the more they come to the surface.
“Hey. Is everything okay?” She looked up to see David standing above her with grocery bags in hand. “I saw you in the store but you left so abruptly that I didn’t have a chance to say ‘hi’.”
“Yeah. I just have to get out of here.” Zehira replied trying to turn the keys in the ignition despite her shaking hands. David suddenly understood the circumstances and placed his bags in her backseat. Being a doctor he studied the psychology of the mind. Knowing that these were not regular emotions and feelings, he opened the driver’s door.
“Okay. You are in no shape to drive. Move over.” Zehira obeyed moving to the passenger seat. David took control over the situation by climbing in the driver’s seat and peeling out of the parking lot. He would glance over at Zehira every few minutes who seemed to be numb despite the vacant eyes and shaking hands. He finally pulled over to an empty beach spot. Before David had even turned off the car, Zehira threw open the door and sprinted toward the water. David took off running after her.
The hurt she felt within was too much for her to handle. The memories proved too real and painful. She reached the water, slowing her down. She stopped just long enough to vomit into the surf. Once the her stomach was empty, she continued into the water. When she had reached waist deep water, David caught up to her. He reached out and grabbed her by the arm before she went too far out. He took hold of her waist keeping Zehira close.
“Hey, it going to be okay.” He said taking the numb Marine in his arms. He stroked her hair and back in efforts to bring life back into her.
Suddenly, she felt like she just didn’t want to do it anymore. The hurt, the memories, the loneliness, it all felt too much. Her legs gave out. David had quickly caught her before she went under. He held her up with his hands on her rib cage. She collapsed into his arms, feeling his strong and tanned arms keep her from sinking into the cold water. David stood there holding Zehira, swaying with the rolling tide as the water broke under their feet. Her head pressed against his cotton shirt.
They stayed there waist deep in the cold southern California ocean until Zehira came back to the present. As the unbearable pain subsided into a heavy, dull ache in her chest and strength came back to her legs, Zehira wrapped her arms around David’s own waist. It was a long time until she felt that she could stand up on her own. David waited in the cold numbing water for her hands to stop trembling until he gently led her away from the breaking waves and to the sandy shore. The seagulls cried overhead and soared through the salty air before coming to a halt on the wet sand. They sat down at the shore line, Zehira’s eyes fixated on the empty blue water before them.
“You want to share with me?” He spoke gently, one hand in hers.
“I just… I feel like I’m being swallowed by the memories.” She managed to get out. He enclosed his hands in hers.
“Memories from being over there?”
She nodded in response. “It just feels like there is no way out. No way to stop the hurt.” She dropped her head to her chest as if in embarrassment. David lifted her chin to look in her eyes.
“I’m here. And if I may say so myself, I have impeccable timing.” He chuckled attempting to lighten the mood.
“I can’t put this on you.” She whispered.
David spoke softly: “There is no way I am letting you go through this alone. No one should have to go through this alone. Besides my part-time job as a doctor, my life in comically boring. Nothing in my life is exciting or new. That is until you came along. You have made life new and exciting again.” David brushed the wavy hair out of her face and pushed it behind her ear. Zehira looked in his blue eyes.
“Really?” She seemed to ask in disbelief.
“I promise.” He pulled her closer to him and wrapped his arm around her shoulder and looked off into the beginnings of a sunset. Zehira in turn rested her head on his strong shoulder. couple at beach

Swallowed

 

I wanted to do this scene at night because it served as a backdrop as what she feels, this all-encompassing darkness. This post serves as a window into the feelings of someone who struggles with PTSD. I like to place subtle symbolism is my story such as Zehira feels that the only family she has is the ocean and the water is where she goes to escape the memories. Then moon breaks through the fog as a sign that there is hope for her, she will be okay.

 

Zehira went to bed happy (and tipsy) that night after her girls-night-out.  She fell asleep quickly, but tossed and turned all night in a fitful sleep. She woke up a few hours later sobbing hysterically. Her heart was in so much pain that there was a physical manifestation of a dull ache. She tried like hell to calm herself down, but the feelings only grew. She rushed outside to the beach and fell to her knees in the sand, sobbing into her shaking hands. Without a moon to light to reflect off the water, the water before her was pitch black. Even the stars were covered by fog that seemed to have rolled in overnight. She splashed the cold ocean water on her face, licking off the salty water on her lips.
Her face soon became wet from the tears falling freely from her eyes. But Zehira was in too much pain from her reality of a dream that she didn’t even bother to wipe them on her night-shirt. She could feel a rising in her stomach that was timed to each hysterical sob. Her hands were shaking as she placed them on her stomach as the contents of her stomach emptied in front of her. She stood to her feet and rushed to the cold water to cup her shaking hands in an effort to wash the acid from her mouth. The salty water splashed on her face washing away the vomit from her lips. Some of the water in her mouth slipped down the wrong pipe causing Zehira to cough furiously, stopping the tears for a few seconds as she clutched her stomach. The coughing stopped long enough for her to catch her breath.

She looked upwards to the starless sky and wished that the memories would stop. As passionate as she felt about serving her country and killing the bad guys, she still saw all the casualties of war in her unit or in the form of innocent civilians. She was taught that returning home would sometimes be the best part and the worst part of the end of a tour. The best being back home with loved ones, the worst being the dreams and memories. Even though Zehira had no ‘loved ones’ to come home to, she considered the sparkling ocean in the afternoon her family. The tears had finally stopped flying out of her eyes as they finished falling into the water below. She face, still turned upwards watched the fog roll in. A break formed in the clouds above letting the moonlight stream down to the beach. Watching the waves glimmer in the moonlight, Zehira took it as a sign of hope from Heaven.Beach at night

Her hands were still shaking and her chest still felt a blunt pain heavy on her heart. She looked around her grateful that no had seen her performance. Well, almost no one. She could make out a silhouette of a person off on the distance. But, Zehira was in such a world of hurt, that she didn’t even care. She shuffled back inside her house and collapsed on the couch. She felt wired yet exhausted. Her shaking hands brought a throw pillow to her chest. Terrified of falling asleep again, she stayed awake throughout the rest of early morning. She positioned herself to look out the window at the sunrise. She sees David jogging by her house with Jedi. She watches him glance at the house as he passes by. Although she could use some company, she wouldn’t want anyone to see her in her current state. He continues jogging past her, much to her relief.  She turned her back on beach and pulled her knees to her chest, sighing into the pillow.

She stepped into the shower letting the warm water fall over her shoulders. She fingered the stitches that were basically holding her stomach together.  She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and willed herself to relax. She focused on the warm water falling down her bare shoulder and onto the gray tile below. She grabbed the bar soap from the bathroom and ran it along her wet skin. She stepped back into the warm water droplets watching the soap run off her skin and down the drain, imagining that the water was cleansing her of her inner struggle. She turned the nozzle until the water stopped falling. Pulling a plush towel from the hook outside the shower curtain she brought the towel to her face and noticed that her hands had finally stopped shaking. She stepped out of the shower and took a deep breath, allowing the steam to course through her lungs. She had always favored gym clothes over a fancy top and jeans. She ran a brush through her wet hair fingering it through her fingers. Not bothering to fix it, she let it hang loose past her shoulders. She walked into the kitchen, hoping for a small lunch now that she was hungry. She opened the fridge door but was disappointed when she found it empty. Her evening with David pretty much cleared all the food that she had previously saved. She grabbed her convertible key by the front door and slipped on her favorite flip-flops.

The Best Kind of Friend

The inspiration behind this post:

This post was really fun to write. I wanted to bring out a fun side of Zehira that we haven’t seen before. I liked the juxtaposition of these two characters life. Her friend Shira has a husband and a child while Zehira is single and doesn’t even own a pet. Though these character are almost a complete contrast in their life choices, they are best friends. 

“Hey cutie. Come here often?” Zehira and her best friend Shira were at a bar just down the road when a classic-hollywood looking man leaned up against the bar and gave Shira a small smile that showcased his dimples.
Shira faced him and stared into his brown eyes.
“I have a husband and a 6 month old. My friend here is a Marine, so if you want to leave here in one piece, go hit on some other hot piece of ass.” Shira stared directly into the man’s face until he walked away from the bar, already eyeing other blonde across the room.
“I see that you haven’t changed.” Zehira took a sip from her wine glass.
Shira chuckled and glanced up at the wooden beams.
“No. I haven’t changed. And you… have you changed?” Shira placed her chin on her hands and leaned on the table. “Cause the last time I saw you, you didn’t want to break from a relationship even when the guy was a pathetic loser, until I saw him with another chick.”
Zehira looked down at her empty wineglass and motioned to the bartender for a refill.
“I did eventually break-up with Ramon.”
“Yeah. Only after I caught him cheating on you with a brainless bimbo.” Shira smiled and brushed the strawberry-blonde hair from her face.
“But I did it.” Zehira praised herself and took another sip from the wineglass feeling the wine slip down her throat and settle in her stomach.
“Uh huh. Okay. Sure.” She smirked. “You know this…me and you here…enjoying a glass a wine…catching up like old friends-”
“Uh… we are old friends.” Zehira interrupted and corrected her friend.
“Despite you almost dying from a gunshot wound and me almost-”
“Almost what? Dying from sleep deprivation?” She teased her friend.
“Sure. Let’s call it that.”
Zehira lifted the glass of the wine and swallowed.
Zehira typically wasn’t a big fan a liquor mostly because of the bitter taste. But as she drank the wine, she began to feel more relaxed. She laughed as Shira talked about her life over the past year.
“Any other potentials on the horizon?” Shira asked about Zehira’s love life.
“Well, there this one guy…” Her cheeks turned a bright shade of red.
“Really?” She drew out the word, pressing for more details.
Zehira described her new love interest in intricate details from his kind heart to his defined body. The more she talked about David, the more she felt her heart race in excitement for him.
The time came and went until Shira decided that she had to get home to her little one.  Shira seemed to be so happy to be out away from her kid that Zehira was surprised when she called a cab to take them both home at 10:00.

Though it was great to see her, Zehira knew that it was time to get her friend home to her family. The cab dropped them both off at home at 10:30 and drove off into the darkness. She was tipsy but aware of her feelings. Or that she couldn’t feel. It felt so good to Zehira to not have a dark cloud hanging over her head. That she could live without the feeling of being swallowed as long as the liquor was still in her system. She entered her house keeping one hand on various object to keep her steady as she walked into her bedroom. Falling on her bed, she pulled a pillow down to her head and passed out in her street clothes.