"Tahitian Sea" Short Story Excerpt
It was another picture perfect evening on a cruise made of dreams. The brass of the banisters sparkled like the pristine Tahitian sea and a soft, warm, breeze flowed through the open doors, beckoning me to leave solace in the stateroom and explore.
It was past the hour for dinner and many passengers had retired to their cabins for the evening or were nonchalantly chatting in the lounges. I was one of only three teenagers on the ship, so I scanned the halls as I walked for company but none was to be found unless I cared to learn about the stock markets or cordially chat about the weather.
I made my way to the front of the ship where the piano played songs I only recognized as old. I opened the grand door and peered into an even majestic room. There were rows of leather lounge chairs, perfectly arranged around low coffee tables. A classic bar sat in the back of the room, and at the front was a dance floor overlooking the endless ocean.
I walked quietly to a comfortable chair in the dimly lit back and quietly sat down, unsure of if I should even be in the lounge. I imagined what it was like to be an adult in this grand world or elegance and beauty. I envisioned stepping onto the dance floor and waltzing the night away with the perfect man because they surely exist in this world.
My daydreams were interrupted by a familiar voice. “Alex, do you know what a wallflower is?” said Connie. She was a soft-spoken woman in her forties who decided to take this trip of a lifetime with her friends after her divorce papers were finalized.
“No,” I answered.
“A wallflower is someone who just watches... Never, ever, be a wallflower, or worse, be someone’s wallflower.”
She grabbed my arm and pulled me across the room to her table.
I met Debbie, a bartender from Seattle who had no trouble letting go and not caring about what others thought. Debbie was traveling with her mom Shirley, who would be kicked out of any nursing home for the kind of ruckus she was creating. And I met John, a gentleman in his 80’s with a level of sophistication and dignity that could have only been reared in a generation far from my own. John asked me to dance. With incredible posture and elegance, he showed me to waltz and foxtrot. I danced the evening away and laughed with these crazy adults. They lived in a world I didn’t understand. A world that was far harder than I ever could have imagined.
Years passed and I never thought about the beauty of that night. I only thought about the next level I wanted to reach or the next goal that I set out to achieve. For ten years, I never had a reason to look back because I was too busy looking forward. Until the puzzle of life starts to not fit together anymore. Then you look back and ponder where you went wrong and what step you missed. Looking at the pieces of my life, I realized I never took Connie’s advice. I always remained content watching others, too shy to engage. I’d become a wallflower on a broken wall, only hanging on by my own strength, completely unsure if hitting the ground would be better than my broken perch. Life is filled with twists and down-right freefalls, and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the words of strangers that pull us through.