I woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in a cold sweat. My head was throbbing with a dull pain and it hurt to breathe. The vision of sleep was still burned into the back of my eyes, but I did my best to blink it away.
After a second of contemplation I pulled myself from the tangled sheets on my bed and stepped lightly across the wooden floor, changing quickly and slipping flip-flops onto my feet.
I grabbed my board and tiptoed out, knowing full well that I was the only one who could hear my steps, but still unwilling to break the silence. When I emerged into the cool air I sighed in relief, locking the door behind me.
Gearhart was a beautiful town, but it was in the late hours that it was seen best. The moon had swelled in the sky like a giant pearl, giving me more than enough light to make my way down the street and towards the beach.
All of the stores were closed, their shutters pulled tight. They looked somewhat like sleeping beasts, painted in the silvery light so that strange shadows pooled and shifted around them. The convenience store my parents had so generously given me a job in was no different, except that its every shelf and counter had been branded into my memory.
I lived in the flat on the floor above the store. It seemed to me like it was my punishment for insisting that I should move out. But then again, it was free and it wasn’t all too horrible, so refusing to stay there would be enough to get myself admitted to an asylum. My parents probably wouldn’t mind that, if it meant they could monitor me 24/7.
It was only a matter of time before I headed off to university, anyways. I would have a dorm and an entirely new city to distract me then. I could leave it all behind.
Or, at least, that was what I told myself.
When I finally felt the sand beneath my feet I kicked off my shoes, running into the gently tossing waves and throwing the board down under me.
I paddled out away from the shore, unflinching even as the rather cold water hit my skin. The chaos in my head started to fade, the way it always did when I was surrounded by the tossing of the restless ocean.
The waves drowned out the nightmare replaying itself in my head, and each time I stood up to let them carry me some of the weight on my chest disappeared.
Even during the few moments I fell into the depths I welcomed their frigid embrace, pulling myself out and breathing with a hint of reluctance.
I didn’t want to die. Sometimes it was just too hard to remember what it was like to be alive.
When the first rays of the early sun broke over the horizon I made my retreat, opening up the store as quickly as my lethargy would let me.
My shift was about to start, anyways.