The water lapped against the sand, making a soothing sound. The blue liquid was cool to the touch but Sebastian Moore noticed none of those things. His mind was elsewhere. His body stood waste deep in the sea but felt no part of it. His mind had disconnected. It had to do so in order to remain sane.
Sebastian looked up as a wave headed his direction. It was a small one, though. He knew it would not take him where he wanted to go. He’d have to wait a little while longer for the bigger waves to appear. While he did so, he reviewed the happenings of the last few days.
Saturday began hopefully with Michelle by his side. They had, in fact, come to the same beach where he currently stood. They played volleyball with friends, drank a few beers and played in the cool water. It was a near perfect day.
That evening, Sebastian took his fiancée to dinner. He chose a French restaurant since she adored the food of her native land. It was expensive but worth it to see the smile on her beautiful porcelain face.
He remembered staring at her and thinking she was the most beautiful creature on earth. Her deep brown eyes peeked out under a fringe of dark bangs. She’d twisted her long brown hair into the perfect chignon. Sebastian loved when she wore it that way. It allowed her beautiful features to stand out.
They laughed over champagne. Then they lounged over a rich beef entree made with wine sauce. They topped the meal off with a delicious chocolate mousse cake with whipped cream. Sebastian put a dollop of the cream on Michelle’s nose and then licked it off before going in for a deep, meaningful kiss. Some patrons of the establishment applauded when they finally came up for air. That made Michelle blush.
After arriving home again, they tore off one another’s clothing and proceeded to make wild, passionate love. Once done, they melted together and slept through the night.
Arising early the next morning, they hurried to ready themselves for church. It would be their final service before becoming husband and wife that very same afternoon. Both of them giggled at the thought. They were finally making it official.
Another wave hit Sebastian, knocking him from his semi dream state. He looked to see if a bigger wave was on the horizon. He still didn’t see the one that would take his life and rejoin him with his ladylove.
Sebastian’s mind wandered back to the day before. The sun had shone with such brightness he felt it was meant as a blessing on their special day.
The couple met with the minister after service to confirm final arrangements. Everything was in place. The aisle cloth and flowers would be brought to the sanctuary as soon as the final service ended. Sebastian could enter his waiting room two hours before the wedding. Michelle, however, planned on readying herself at home, traveling by limo to the church just in time to walk down the aisle.
Everything went smoothly as outlined up to the moment Sebastian entered the sanctuary to wait for his bride. He smiled and waved at family and friends who filled all the pews. It was the happiest day of his life and he couldn’t wait to make the dream a reality.
A few minutes past the hour came and went. No Michelle arrived to take her bridal position. For the first time since their relationship, Sebastian’s heart began to beat slowly with a sense of dread. Something was wrong. He felt in the core of his soul.
Suddenly the minister appeared from the opposite side of the sanctuary. Sebastian could tell from the look on his face that his momentary thoughts had been correct. Something was very wrong.
The minister whispered something in the would-be groom’s ear. Sebastian turned white and felt his knees buckle beneath him. His groomsmen reached out to break his fall.
Those words echoed in Sebastian’s mind. “There’s been an accident Sebastian. Michelle is dead.”
The words struck the young man again like a bolt of lightning. They tore through his heart, ripping it even more. He knew with certainty that he’d never again be the same again. A piece of him was gone.
A brush against his leg made Sebastian take note. He wondered what sea animal was threatening him; not that he much cared. It wasn’t until he saw dark hair floating to the top of the water line that he paid real attention. It was brown and long; just like Michelle’s.
A voice echoed from the sea. “What are you doing Sebastian? I don’t want this for you.”
It was Michelle’s voice. Of that the young man was certain. He looked closer to find the figure swimming around him a second time. It was then that Michelle’s beautiful face surfaced above the water.
“Go back, Sebastian. You must go back.”
“I cannot,” Sebastian answered. “Life without you is no life at all.”
“Is that what you learned from God’s teachings?” Michelle’s face scowled at the thought. “That when life hurts you, then you run away?”
Sebastian measured his next words carefully. “Suicide is an unpardonable sin,” he whispered. “Does that mean we would not be together again?”
“It does,” Michelle answered her voice breaking. “But that isn’t the only reason you should go back. I’ve seen the wonderful life ahead of you. I want you to live it – for both of us.”
“I don’t know if I can.” Sebastian reached out to touch his former bride. He felt nothing but air.
“You can and you must.” Michelle flipped her fish tail to emphasize her point.
“Why are you like that? What have they done to you?”
“I’m an illusion, Sebastian; something your mind would accept at this moment. Deep inside you still believe that anything is possible; even mermaids.” Michelle smiled and jumped above the water in a balletic pirouette. Then she dove into the sea for a few moments before resurfacing again.
“The world is still an exciting place, Sebastian. You are meant to see it all. You are meant to photograph it and share those pictures with the world. It is your destiny. It is your birthright. Do not let death keep you from it. We will be together again someday and then nothing will ever part us.”
Sebastian nodded, allowing his heart to warm slightly. “I could never say no to you,” he mumbled.
“That’s a good thing,” Michelle giggled. “Now go. The wave you once sought is coming. Escape it, Sebastian, and live.”
Looking up, Sebastian saw the wave Michelle spoke of drawing near. Looking down to find her again, he saw that she’d already gone. He turned and hurried back to shore.
As the big wave neared the place he once stood, Sebastian called out to Michelle. “Thank you, my love, for loving me enough for both of us.”
The next few weeks were difficult but slowly Sebastian began to put his life back together. Then, he got a surprising call.
“My name is Thomas Cain. Someone sent me some of your photographs. You are very talented and exactly the man I need for an upcoming project.”
“Who sent you my work?” Sebastian’s mind wondered who in his life would be that bold.
“Let’s see,” the man scrambled. “The note is signed Michelle Beaufont. Do you know her?”
“She is, or was, my fiancée’,” Sebastian explained. “She died on our wedding day.”
“I am so sorry,” Cain said, his voice deepening. “Obviously she was very proud of you to have sent me these photographs. They are magnificent.”
“What is it that you want from me?” Sebastian’s curiosity got the best of him.
“I want someone to travel the world to photograph the people of every land. Those photographs will be compiled in a book I am planning. Ultimately, I want to show that, at the heart, we are not all that different. I guess it is my attempt to help us find peace with one another.
Believe me, my friends think the whole idea is ludicrous, but I feel compelled to make this book happen. You are just the photographer I need to do that. Your work seems the capture the essence of those you photograph.”
“It might be just the distraction I need,” Sebastian muttered. “Besides, I believe my participation in this project is already sealed.”
The men spoke several times and eventually Sebastian began his journey. He spent the next 10 years traveling the world and taking pictures. There were hundreds of thousands to choose from when he was done. Each one spoke volumes about life, hardship, victory, faith and death. The finished book was immediately declared a masterpiece.
Sebastian Moore never married. He died suddenly at the age of 55 from pneumonia. Those who surrounded him at the time of his death were awed by the peace that radiated from him.
“Michelle,” his mouth whispered the name and smiled. When Sebastian awoke from his final sleep, he was staring at the woman of his dreams.
“I waited for you,” Michelle said. “Now we’ll be together forever.”