We turn a corner and suddenly the ocean is just there, running alongside the road to the left of us. It can’t be more than thirty feet away.
The vast endlessness of it is shocking. It falls off the end of the world.
“I can’t believe I’ve missed all this,” I say. “I’ve missed the whole wide world.”
He shakes his head. “One thing at a time, Maddy. We’re here now.”
I look back at Olly’s ocean eyes and I’m drowning, surrounded on all sides by water. There’s so much to see that it’s hard to know what to pay attention to. The world is too big and there’s not enough time for me to see it.
Again he reads my mind. “Do you want to stop and look?”
He asks the driver if it’s OK for us to pull over, and he says it’s no problem at all. He knows a good place coming up, a park and picnic area.
I’m out of the car before the engine’s off. The water is just a short walk downhill and then across the sand.
Olly trails a distance behind me.
It’s bluer, bigger, more turbulent than I’d imagined. Wind lifts my hair, scrubs sand and salt against my skin, invades my nose. I wait until I’m down the hill to take off my shoes. I roll my jeans up as far as they’ll go. The sand is hot and dry and loose. It waterfalls over my feet and slips through my toes.
As I get closer to the water, the sand changes. Now it sticks to my feet, coating them like a second skin. At the water’s edge, it changes again and becomes a liquid velvet. My feet leave impressions in this softer mix.
Finally, my feet are in the surging water, and then my ankles are, and then my calves. I don’t stop moving until the water is up to my knees and soaks my jeans.
“Be careful,” Olly calls out from somewhere behind me.
I’m not sure what that means in this context. Be careful because I may drown? Be careful I may get sick? Be careful, because once you become a part of the world it becomes a part of you, too?
Because there’s no denying it now. I’m in the world.
And, too, the world is in me.
o•cean (ˈōSHən) n. pl. -s. 1. The endless part of yourself you never knew but always suspected was there. [2015, Whittier]
Reward If Found
Our hotel sits right on the beach and we can see and smell the ocean from the small, open-air lobby. We’re greeted with alohas and more leis. Olly gives his to me so that I now have three layered around my neck. A bellhop in a bright yellow-and- white Hawaiian shirt offers to retrieve our nonexistent luggage. Olly makes a noise about our baggage coming later and steers us around him before he can question us further.
I nudge Olly toward the check-in counter and give him our paperwork.
“Welcome to Maui, Mr. and Mrs. Whittier,” says the woman at the desk. He doesn’t correct her mistake, just pulls me closer and gives me a loud smack on the lips.
“Mahalo very much,” he says, grinning wildly.
“You’ll be joining us for … two nights.”
Olly looks to me for confirmation and I nod.
A few keystrokes later the woman tells us that, though it’s still early, our room is already ready. She gives us a key and property map and tells us about the complimentary continental breakfast buffet.
“Enjoy your honeymoon!” She winks and sends us on our way.
The room is small, very small, and decorated much like the lobby with teak furniture and large pictures of bright tropical flowers. Our balcony—called a lanai—overlooks a small garden and a parking lot.
From the center of the room, I turn a 360 to see what’s considered necessary in a temporary home—television, a small fridge, an enormous closet, a desk and chair. I turn another 360 trying to figure out what’s missing.
“Olly, where are our beds? Where do we sleep?”
He looks momentarily confused until he spots something. “Oh, you mean this?” He walks over to what I thought was an enormous closet, grips the two handles near the top and pulls to reveal a bed. “Voilà,” he says. “The very model of modern-day, space-saving efficiency. The height of style and comfort, of convenience and practicality. I give you the Murphy bed.”
“Who is Murphy?” I ask, still surprised that a bed came out of the wall.
“The inventor of this bed,” he says, winking.
With the bed unfolded, the room feels even smaller. We both stare at it for longer than is strictly necessary. Olly turns to look at me. I’m blushing even before he says:
“Just the one bed.” His voice is neutral, but his eyes aren’t. The look in his eyes makes me blush harder.
“So,” we say simultaneously. We laugh awkward, self-conscious laughs and then laugh at ourselves for being so very awkward and self-conscious.
“Where is that guidebook?” he asks, finally breaking eye contact and making a show of looking around the room. He grabs my backpack and digs around, but pulls out The Little Prince instead of the guide.
“I see you brought the essentials,” he teases, waving it in the air. He climbs onto the bed and begins lightly bouncing in the middle of it. Murphy’s springs protest noisily. “Isn’t this your favorite book of all time?”
He turns the book over in his hands. “We read this sophomore year. I’m pretty sure I didn’t understand it.”
“You should try again. The meaning changes every time you read it.”
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