She was taking a leisurely stroll down the sandy sea shore, as the waves caressed her sand infested feet. The wintry breeze pierced her like ice cold daggers, and she rubbed her hands once and while, while chattering amidst the biting cold. It was almost twilight and the sun was slowly making its way down the horizon, leaving a trail of blazing vermilion in the sky. Cumulus clouds made way for the last few rays of sunlight for the day, bathing the sea shore in a golden orange light. It wasn’t anything like she had ever seen before. Waking up at dawn with sleep ridden eyes not something she really enjoyed, but her parents insisted on watching the sun rise every morning, so it was mandatory to accompany them while they reveled in natures bountiful splendors. Sunset was far more appealing to her, as she could savor the unearthly beauty when her body wouldn’t crave for a few more hours of sleep.

Faintly discerning the minuscule lights that glowed far away from the sea shore, she could see the larger waves undulating, not that far away from the sinking sun itself. They were hundreds of nautical miles away, looking like tiny fire flies from where she stood. The source of the lights as she had learned from her father, were the cluster of marine ships that were anchored in that particular belt.

She sometimes thought of the sailors, in the ship, and what they might be doing, cast far away from dry land — whether they felt lonely and sea sick, or whether they missed their families and loved ones. She wondered if she could survive in a place like that, isolated and alone, in the middle of nowhere, and wherever her eyes went, all she would see was the dark blue-black waters.

The salinity that lingered in the air piqued her nose. A group of people were probably doing a barbeque somewhere nearby, and she caught the faint scent of sautéed meat. She suddenly felt hunger pangs kick in, and ruminated on not having a proper lunch. They had eaten at a local restaurant, and the meal consisted of seafood. Fish never evoked her appetite.

It was the 3rd day of their trip and she was already yearning to leave. She loved the beach, loitering around the shores, watching mom and dad banter sitting on their favorite reclining chair, waking up to the icy wind lapping at her face, sightseeing the tourist destinations where mom could haggle to her heart’s content over a pair of sandals.

She loved the place, its aura and idyllic scenes. And yet…

Leaving behind the bustling metropolitan was easy. Actually, she had wanted to get away from the city, the moment she heard her parents were planning a holiday. The dreadful exams were finally over, assignments and projects wrapped up and submitted and she could finally breathe. At least for the next 3 weeks till 5th semester commenced. Immense relief was what she felt, after writing the very last word in her exam script. No more stressing over deadlines, fussing over nitty gritty details like late night library visits and malfunctioning photocopy machines. At least for the time being.

But then again the city had its own magnetism. Polluted, overcrowded and fast paced.

But it was also home. Her only abode. A safe haven to return to after a long tiring day.

The trip was had been a long due event. Her parents named it the ‘healing holiday’. For her, it was a getaway, an escape from a strange relationship. A break.

She missed him a lot. The men’s hair salon in front of their resort had a poster of a model pasted in front of its entrance, and his hairstyle reminded her of him. Slightly tousled, and unkempt, but stylish at the same time. She saw an exact same hoodie she had seen him wearing at a shop mom had dragged her to, navy blue with “why so serious?” written in white on the front.

Almost everything she saw, inexplicably reminded her of bits and pieces of him.

She remembered reading somewhere; love and lust were two disparate feelings. Where lust was something instantaneous, a temporary attraction to the opposite sex, solely based on their appearance, whereas love was something deep, profound and subtle.

Yes, she liked men who knew how to be subtle. But of course he was nowhere near that.

Sometimes she was perplexed by his actions, his words. He could sound so nonchalant, indifferent.

But even she never denied the fact that at times he stared at her like he could see everything inside her heart — like she could keep no secrets from him.

He was so hard to read. Like some arcane Gallic scripture, she scoffed.

Loving him had been the most exquisite form of self destruction. A man who refused to commit, and let go at the same time was nothing but a leaving and breathing chaos.

“Laila, it’s getting dark. Come inside,” her mom called out from the balcony.

Inhaling the salty air last time for the evening, she traipsed along the sandy pathway, back to the hotel.

But was she prepared to give him up either?

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With an irrepressible zeal for writing, Lamia Mohsin constantly tries to outperform herself and strive for better. Overambitious and a dreamer, she aspires to be a development economist one day and play a role in making this world a little more livable. A bookworm , she idolizes two literary geniuses, Khaled Hossaini and Satyajit Ray.