My second visit to Rye differs greatly from the first. When Diana sent me here originally, she did so with the belief that somehow, I would end up finding myself.
It’s hard to tell if things worked out for the best. There is a good chance that I may still be as lost as I was before.
But nonetheless, at least this time, as I visit Rye once more, I won’t be doing it alone.
I was surprised that Roy was so eager to join me. I recall him having mentioned a few trips to the UK in the past, but for business and not for pleasure.
Perhaps he’s craving a break from city life. With all the things we have to deal with in our everyday lives, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little time off.
On the first day at the cottage, I wake up in the bedroom on the second floor. I open my eyes to see a sun-filled room, with the salty scent of the sea seeping in through a cracked open window.
A glance to the bedside clock tells me that it’s two in the afternoon, so I suppose it’s fair to say that I have yet to fully adjust to the time zone differences.
The sheets shift against my skin as I roll over. I reach my hand to the other side of the bed, anticipating the touch of a companion. But instead, my hand falls upon what feels like paper.
I sit up quickly and look over. There’s a sticky note on the pillow with a message printed onto it.
on the beach
Perhaps it’s my unfamiliarity with the environment, or my newfound freedom to break the routine, but soon I’m out of the bed.
I grab some clothes from the closet and quickly head downstairs.
I’m pulling on a sweater by the time I get to the door. I’m pushing my arms through the holes of a jacket by the time I step out.
The breeze off the ocean hits me immediately. It’s a sensation I had been craving for quite a while. It’s a lovely relief after months of city-wide congestion.
The beach is a lot closer to the cottage than Rye is. It’s hard to believe that civilization is a short drive away when the only thing you can see from the place is the ocean.
In a fairly secluded location, I don’t think that Roy could have gone too far. Barefoot, I step across the sand, scoping out the land to see where he is.
It doesn’t take long for me to find him. I soon see a speck amongst the horizon, and with every step I take, I can start to tell that it’s Roy.
The more I walk, the bigger he gets. As I go on, the image of Roy Harper with a smile on his face and the breeze through his hair becomes more clear.
In time, I’m by his side. There Roy stands, clad in his favourite field jacket as the wind blows through his hair.
Roy takes his focus off the horizon. When his eyes settle on me, his smile gets just a little brighter.
“Saw the note, huh?”
“Hard not to.”
“How’d you sleep last night?”
“As well as I could.”
“So not well at all?”
“Exactly. Shocking, right?”
Roy lets out a scoff and shakes his head, and soon after that, he’s laughing. He’s always been good at finding the humour in everything.
Then suddenly, I’m grinning as well and laughing along with him.
Maybe it’s easier to laugh over the predicaments of our existence than to cry over it.
But quite abruptly, I feel the amusement shut off. It almost feels like a reflex. I stop what I’m doing and a light feeling of penance runs through my stomach.
“I’m sorry,” I soon tell Roy, words in which cause him to stop laughing as well.
In reaction to that, Roy raises an eyebrow in confusion.
“Huh? For what?”
“For being snide,” I explain. “If this really is our vacation time, I don’t want to waste it brooding and snarking over my personal problems.”
Roy looks perplexed, “Don’t worry about that. It’s just conversation, it means nothing.”
“Still…” I say, looking out towards the sea. There’s not much to see, except for the line where air and water meet. “Most people come to places like this to leave their issues behind.”
“Yeah, don’t I know that...” Roy adds on, dryly. He then takes my hand and holds it in his, “But do we have to let ‘em drag us down all the time?”
I shake my head, “Of course not.”
I’ve always admired Roy’s brightness. He’s always been the more free spirited of us five, always managing to keep his mind moving forward.
The ability to find optimism, no matter how small, in the worst of times is an undervalued quality. I marvel at this part of him.
Roy reaches over, holds my hand, and looks into my eyes. He grins as hopefully as he can and says, “It’s not impossible, Troy. I promise you that.”
His closeness ignites warmth inside of me, something that makes my heart beat just a little bit faster.
Then suddenly, Roy pulls away from me, moving a few steps away. It all happens so quickly that once I register what’s going on, I see him unzipping his jacket and throwing it to the sand.
“Come on!” he calls out in a jubilant tone. “The day’s not getting any longer, is it?”
I blink, unsure what exactly is occurring in front of my eyes, “What? Roy, what are you doing?”
Once Roy gets his shirt off and his eyes settle on the surf, his idea become clear and everything starts to make sense.
“Come on, Donna,” Roy speaks up, now undoing his belt. “We’re young and this is our time off. And you said it yourself, you don’t wanna waste it moping, right?”
For the second time today, Roy’s got a point. He really is on a roll this morning.
At the same time, the idea confounds me to no end. I honestly didn’t expect my first day back at Rye to involve Roy Harper stripping down to his briefs with the intentions of jumping into the cold ocean.
But yet, seeing him do so with such delight makes the concept more appealing by the second. When he dashes towards the surf, I make the choice then and there to follow his actions and join him in the water.