AN: I'd like to say that this story won "honorable mention" in the La Campanella Awards' December Contest!!! (Never won anything before!) They can be found at www(.)campanella-awards(.)webs(.)com (minus parenthesis)

this was the prompt www(.)asofterworld(.)com/index(.)php?id=506

The Ocean

The ocean has always been my favorite place. The wind, the salt spray, the ocean smell. My mother used to say there was a reason I loved the ocean so much, that I had been born in a hospital room, looking out at the ocean. And that's why she named me Seah. Like Leah, but with an "s" or sea, plus an "h".

I can remember loving our visits to the seaside. My sister, Lara and I would run up and down the sand, trying to avoid the waves that would tickle our toes. Sometimes, we would swim out to the sandbar and then body surf back in to the shore, racing to see who would get there first.

One summer, we were about to swim out to the sandbar, when Lara stopped me. Being older, she always dictated what we would do. And today, she said that we had to build a sandcastle first.

I was furious. What was Lara doing, ruining our tradition? But, being the little sister, I followed her and built that castle. Lara made sure it was magnificent, a moat filled with sea water; tiny shells pressed into the walls; a carefully sculpted tower. And then, our names were carved on the floor- Lara and Seah.

Later, I learned that the ocean had been dangerous that day. After building the castle, my mother can called us inside, looking terrified and stuck us in front of the tiny TV while she muttered anxiously into her cell phone.

She finally turned off the movie we were watching and sat us down, telling us that today, a little boy had drowned in the ocean. There was a rip tide, and he hadn't been able to swim. I didn't know the boy, but I could tell Lara had by the tears streaming down her face. Somehow, she had kept us from that current, while that little boy had died instead.

Now, as I walk along the shore of the ocean once more, I can pick out that house we stayed in when we were little. The siding is still a garish salmon color. The sign still read: The Mermaid House, complete with a painted mermaid with a bright green tail.

I can almost see Lara and me, running along the beach, swimming to the sandbar, racing back to shore.

But, the beach is silent now. No child is playing, no couples sunbathing. No one is visible. Almost like my childhood.

I've been without Lara for five years now, to the day and I still can't understand what made her kill herself. She was always the happy, outgoing sister, while I was the darker, introspective one. I wish that I could find her now. I wish that there was a grave to visit, so I could talk to her. Ask her why she wanted to die, carefree, happy Lara. But there is no grave, only her ashes, scattered into the ocean.

That's why I visit the ocean on her birthday. For the ocean is her grave. That's why I now sit on the sand, wondering if I might see her again, if I could just swim out to the sandbar.