The warm water laps up and over - caressing my feet. I feel the cool breeze rifle through my hair. The sun shines down on me happily. I gaze out into the vast unknown, watching silently the glistening ocean in front of me. I rub the scar on my arm from where I was shot, it has healed nicely. I awake from my mindless gaze and walk a little along the soft white sand.
I love the smell of the fresh sea air. The beach is empty like it always is and the sun is still high in the sky.
I rub my swollen stomach affectionately. Not long yet till our baby will enter the world. Mine and Leo's. I wonder where he is now, always. I know he's not dead, I just feel it. I can't decide which is better to be with him and think he does not love me or to be without him and know he does love me.
I remember when I last saw him, he vanished with that roguish smile and they were certain he was dead. But I know he's not. A man was shot and taken down they said, but they found no body. Maybe one day he will come find us and we'll be a proper family. I have hopes but I can't let them get too high. As much as it pains me even if Leo escaped that night he may still have found his end some other way, too many people were after him.
The baby is my priority now. When he or she is born they will be the most loved baby ever. I will stay here in this beautiful place and raise my child with so much love. I like the simple life here, I have already led a complicated one and I don't want to go back there again. That is in the past, I have cut it off.
I remember how naïve I was and how I used to depress myself into thinking he never could love me. Logic seemed to play no part in my mind, if only I had noticed the signs then none of this need have happened. We would be together perfectly fine now. I've given up blaming myself but it still hangs in the air like a stale smell.
I feel that we are hungry so I wander back up to the house that rests just above the beach. Leo told me of this place, and here I am well looked after. Not all of his wealth went; he had secret bank accounts that not even they could get rid off. Seems he had made provisions for me a while ago. The house is beautiful and simple. It is not lavish but homely just how I would want it. I can't help but smile to myself - he knows me inside out.
I wish Leo could be here, but I know maybe he will turn up. I miss him. I yearn for him. I want him to know about our baby growing inside me. I want to se his face light up when he hears the news. I want him to rub my belly and tell me what it will be like, just the three of us. I know things will never be perfect between us, he has his faults and I have my own. It will never be easy but that doesn't matter. I know if he comes we will make it work.
I feel the baby kick, he or she is hurrying me along. He's hungry and she wants food now. Pregnancy suits me. I find a maternal instinct in me that I never expected to have. Maybe it has been merely dormant all these years, or maybe it's because it is his baby. A part of him locked inside me.
I happily eat at my plate of pasta. That's mostly what I eat - call it pregnant cravings. Sally, the housekeeper always seems to have a plate ready for me whenever I want some. She is one of my friends here. When I first came here she was ready and waiting. She makes me laugh and when I feel alone makes me feel partly better. She's American and has a lovely freshness to her even though she is quite a lot older than me. The doorbell rings.
"I'll get it," I call, as I know Sally is busy with the washing. I waddle towards the door aware of my large stomach. My dress is floaty and loose providing much comfort. My breasts have swollen considerably preparing for the baby's birth I did not expect such a drastic change but I rub my stomach affectionately.
A young man stands before me, a plant in a pot obscuring part of his face. He peers round. His eyes flicker to my protruding stomach.
"Miss Ana Dean?"
"Yes…" I reply curiously.
"Then this plant is for you."
"A plant?" I gaze at the plant it is very beautiful in its elegance and simplicity. The leaves are a vivid green and small white flowers delicately hang from the leaves.
"Would you like me to bring it in and put it down somewhere?"
"Yes that would be kind. Who is it from?"
"I don't know ma'am. I was just told to deliver it here to you. There's this message too." He hands out the small card. Printed on it are the words. "Perhaps this would look good on the deck outside." My eyes crinkle in confusion at the message; I dismiss it from my mind and glance at the plant.
"Yes the oleander is a beautiful plant, but highly toxic if eaten."
"Mhmm…." I murmur looking at the plant in confusion.
"Well thank you."
"No problem ma'am." He says and goes to leave the house. Then there is something familiar about his words. I can't pin it and then suddenly a flash of something floods into my mind.
"Wait! what did you say this plant was called?" I say jumping to attention.
Those simple words instantly trigger a memory, a flash of so long ago before everything came to fall. Such a small moment, and yet I remember it as if it was yesterday.
I'd been sitting in a small coffee shop sipping preciously at my warm delightful coffee while in my boredom filling out a crossword. When I became aware of a shadow standing over me. I knew exactly who it was. I chose to ignore him and concentrate on a crossword clue, which I really couldn't get:
Widely cultivated ornamental, but poisonous flowering shrub with evergreen leaves and clusters of fragrant pinkish or red flowers.
"How about dinner Wednesday?"
"No." I said barely glancing up. I didn't want to meet his eyes.
"Ok. Thursday it is. I'll send a car to pick you up."
"No, no. Can't you take a hint? I just want you to leave me alone. You're turning into some sort of stalker."
From the corner of my eye I could see amusement in his eyes.
"Look, what is it you exactly want from me?"
"I thought it was obvious. Dinner."
"That's all one Dinner? What exactly do you hope to achieve? I get that you're all powerful and good-looking, but really you're not the guy for me. I have a boyfriend."
"I can sort that out." Back then I didn't realise the full extent of his words. To me he was just a rich millionaire. "I know you're not happy with him."
"You don't know anything. Look If I agree to this stupid dinner will you just leave me alone."
"Maybe." With that he stood up and went to move away. "The answers Oleander."
My heart flutters and I know whom the plant is from. Suddenly the message makes sense. Nervous strands accompanied by excited ones flitter through my stomach. I feel the baby kick.
Realisation dawns on me instantly and the corners of my mouth curve. Sally is calling from the kitchen but I either don't understand or hear her words, my heartbeat is so veracious.
He is here. He must be, I can feel it. He's outside. He must be. I've forgotten the boy and the plant now. I'm running as fast as I can out of the back of the house. I rush past Sally and barely take in the surprise look on her face as she washes the dishes. The sun blares into my eyes obscuring my vision. The soft sand strokes at my feet as I dance onto the beach. Footprints that were not there before sit in the sand, they could be my own, but I won't let myself believe that.
I know he is here.
I could have so easily killed one of the characters but I felt that was far too easy. Making a slushy conventional happy ending also would not have been right, as it would conflict with the whole style of the story. Therefore it is I guess bittersweet in its ambiguity. It is up to you to decide whether he has really come or he is dead.
If anyone complains about her name then you have not understood my intention. Her name is irrelevant it means nothing to the plot. I have my own reasons for not giving her one till the end.
It is just over two years later and I have finally finished this. I have mixed feeling about this. On one side I am thrilled as I have never finished anything I have ever written in my life. On the other I am bitterly disappointed with this story. It has far too many faults to name and I wish I had developed it more. Here are a few of my qualms:
The plot holes, I tried to fill them in but they are rushed and not that great.
The sub-plot, I wish I had made this more developed.
My style, the tense fluctuated and I wish I had been able to maintain this better
My characters. Ana is far to whiny and miserable, although she isn't meant to be perfect or liked. In fact she is a bit of an idiot but I wish I had developed her and Leo better. Hopefully you can see some development of both their characters in this however.
A general fluffing up and strengthening is needed, often parts are too rushed and some parts are dragged out far too long.
Thank you to all those that appeared to enjoy this. Maybe one day I will sit down and re-write this. I don't claim that this is the greatest piece of writing, but it is a start. I have learnt there is so much more to writing a story than I first believed and this has shown me. Hopefully I shall write something a hundred times better than this. All the same I can't help but be a little proud that- albeit it a little strained at times- I stuck with this and finished it. I would not have been able to do this without all of your encouragements – I know that sounds cheesy, but it truly is the truth.. It was truly great to read those who reviewed but also nice to know people still looked at this story even if they didn't leave a review. Over 41,000 hits and counting on this!
Thank you once again I will look forward to reading your comments on this epilogue.