The water stretched out before her. Even in the middle of the ocean, the wind and current battled with the water, making waves crash against the side of her boat. Ocean water sprayed her face. The salty air had already taken the moisture out of her lips, and when her tongue peeked out to wet them, she tasted the ocean. Awestruck, she looked out into the vast ocean in front of her, leaving the island of Oahu behind. She looked over the edge of her boat and into the wake to see her favorite and most treasured sight – the sun casting a perfect rainbow on the ocean spray. She stood proudly behind the helm, swaying with practiced ease.
Nicole Haught couldn’t be happier. She finally set sail on her adventure to Canada to observe walrus wildlife. Years of schooling, training, and boat construction led to this moment. Her lips and fingertips tingled. She breathed in and closed her eyes, savoring it. Inhale…
The quiet and serene peacefulness broke the second the mast creaked at a dangerous angle. Then it completely gave way and tumbled into the deck in all of its epic glory. Although it was hard to hear the crash over Nicole’s heart breaking.
Nicole ran a tired hand through her unruly, wind-wrecked, short red locks. A quick whimper and her thoughts went rampant.
Nicole was sure the sight was straight out of a dumb Adam Sandler movie. Here she was, a captain of a gorgeous boat that had set off to save the underwater world, now stuck in an insignificant motor boat escaping her own damn ship wreck. Nicole sat there with her mouth set in a thin line, her eyes devoid of any spark of joy, and her brows in a crease. She motored on over to her prison. Perhaps even worse than the prison of her own mind. She reached land.
“Perfect,” Nicole muttered under her breath.
She hated land. She hated people, particularly men. She’s hated people, especially men, ever since she was a little gap-toothed 7-year-old and her father took her to the aquarium. She remembered tugging her dad’s calloused hand, pointing out every sea creature and reading the fun facts on each species’ placard. She only stumbled on a few words, but sounded them out confidently.
“Look! An octopus! They have three hearts and blue blood; they squirt ink to deter predators; and being boneless, they can squeeze into (or out of) tight spaces.
“Awww dad! Look at the little penguin!” Nicole squinted to read. “Most penguins are monogamous, meaning they remain with the same partner all their life.” She looked up at her dad with her deep brown, heart eyes. “Just like you and mom.”
Little did she know, her dad revealed himself to be a shithead dickweed and most definitely did not hold the same ideals as a penguin.
Nicole let out a giggle at all the smaller children whimpering in fear at the shark exhibit. “Dad, don’t be scared, they’re harmless. They don’t prey on humans; they just get confused.” Stepping closer to the shark facts, she read out, “They can hear prey up to 3000 feet away. Woah.”
Now THAT sounded more like her father. She swore that the man smelled her homosexuality months before she had even come to terms with it. Plus, he treated her worse than any shark could’ve. He tore her apart, limb from limb, all for being gay. From that moment on, she swore off people, particularly locals and especially men.
Nicole’s little feet stuttered to a stop as she came face to face with the most ginormous creature with tusks as big as her. Eyes wide, mouth gaping open, Nicole took a step closer to the glass encasement.
From that moment on, she found her true love. She would spend the rest of her life with walruses out in the water, never to return to this retched island.
It was the worst feeling in the world, being land ridden with no escape. Nicole decided to at least take advantage of the time as she waited for the coast guard to clean up her boat. With a heavy weight in her stomach and her feet dragging along the shore, she walked up to a cute little breakfast place. A surfboard plastered on the top of the building read “Shorty’s Café”.
The bell dinged, signaling Nicole’s entrance.
The café seemed homey and comfortable. A counter surrounded the kitchen with a sparse number of patrons sitting on the stools sipping coffee and reading the paper. A scruffy looking old man with a tattoo across his face wore a Hawaiian shirt and bobbed his head in tune with the music as he cooked spam and eggs. An older woman passed in front of her, handing menus to a family sitting at a table in the front. As the graying hair waitress approached her, Nicole managed to make out what her name tag said – Gus.
“Aloha darlin’, what can I getcha?”
Exasperated, Nicole muttered, “Just a coffee please, thanks.”
“Now, darlin’, that ain’t no way to start your day. Especially a strappin' young thing like yourself. What have ya had to eat today?”
Nicole picked her thumb nervously under the scrutiny of the older woman’s stare. “Uhmm. I had…a Reece’s peanut butter cup and some Gatorade.”
Gus met that statement with judgmental silence.
“That’s not breakfast. I’ll getcha some spam and eggs. You need a nice breakfast girl.”
Nicole flashed her dimple thanking the kind waitress. As Gus left, the old tattoo face guy – Nedley - marched on over to where she was at the counter.
He grunted out with something like admiration in his eyes, “you like peanut butter cups?”
Nicole hesitated, straigtened up in his presence, and then answered, “well, yes sir, I do.”
Nedley’s mustache twitched. “You want to me to sprinkle some peanut butter cups in your eggs?”
A moment of awkward silence transpired as Nicole couldn't tell whether or not he was joking. After a few more pained seconds, his mustache twitched so Nicole let out a small laugh.
“No thanks, I’m alright.”
Nedley let out a bark of laughter. “Peanut butter cup. I like you.”
He continued to stare her down as he walked backwards. Nicole gave him a quick thumbs up, but then quickly chastised herself for being so awkward. Ugh. Interacting with the male species was so difficult. But as Nedley finally rounded the corner to the kitchen, she figured that she might actually like him. Tattoo Face. Nicole’s eyes swept past him to look at the rest of the eatery. Each table sat adjacent to a windowed wall, with a view that could rival anything a 5-star resort offered tourists visiting the big island. Nicole’s eyes continued to dance across the set up of the café, until they landed on a particular girl.
Not a girl, a woman. Not just a woman, but the most beautiful woman Nicole had ever laid eyes on.
The woman had billowing brown hair that called out to Nicole like a Siren, begging her to run her fingers through it. The brunette’s oceanic hazel eyes focused on the waffles in front of her. Her teeth tugged on her lower lip, her nose scrunched up in the most adorable way, and her forehead creased in utmost concentration.
Nicole’s breath escaped her in a sudden rush. The woman had laughed. And Nicole swore that her laugh was just as magical as the sound of the wind chimes her mother had made her right before she passed away.
The waitress from earlier crossed in front of Nicole’s vision and strolled right up to the angel with ease, seemingly not affected by the incredible light that poured out of the brunette.
“Aloha Waverly. Enjoying your waffle house?”
The most beautiful girl in the world – Waverly – turned, sending even more sparks out into the universe, as her eyes crinkled into crescent moons and she smiled up at the waitress.
“Gus! I love your haircut. And yes! It’s a pit-dwelling house from ancient Japan.”
Time slowed down. The edges of Nicole’s vision blurred until only the brunette was clear and perfectly saturated. Blood rushed in her ears and her heart pumped rapidly in her chest. Her palms clamed up and sweat built up on the back of her neck.
Nicole was suffering from a severe case of gay panic.