A student of Full Sail University, Amanda Laskowsky has enrolled in their creative writing program to fulfill her dream of one day publishing her own trilogy series that many people can take their time to enjoy reading. She is inspired not only by the authors of her favorite genres, supernatural, fantasy, and dystopian, but she also takes her own life experiences as inspiration for the themes in her writing. She strives to create stories and worlds that can help guide others through personal problems, or merely act as a way to temporarily escape reality the way stories have for her throughout her life. To learn more about Amanda you can find her on Facebook @AmandaLaskowsky or discover her on Instagram @andy_7200.
The echo challenged her. Eleven o’clock was the time. That was what Kaila’s phone claimed. The jacket, whose pocket she stuffed the phone into, and whose white sleeves had transitioned into stains of gray, stretched past the tips of her fingers. In her mind, the sleeves reminded her of the lanky arms that belonged to the jacket’s original owner. They were arms that enveloped her in a hug every time he returned home from practice. However, as she discarded the jacket beside her feet, what enveloped her at the top of the cliff was nothing more than the frigid wind and the echo of the waves surging below.
The echo challenged her. The seafoam that converged at the tip of each dark and murky wave melted into circular and crescent shapes. The image of a face was left behind as if the spirit of the ocean had drifted up to personally laugh at her. A deep-seated burn gradually filled Kaila’s chest, the nails of her fingers clawing into the clammy palms of her hands, and eventually that taunting, challenging sound of the ocean, faded with the drumming of her heart against her chest.
“Just do it,” she said, repeating the words to pacify her heartbeat.
It formed into a mantra, and with a single breathe she did it. She jumped. The plunge felt like it existed to thrill her; however, the water seemed to exist to terrorize her. When Kaila hit the billowing wave, she felt the unforgiving thrust of frozen needles into her skin. Her hands groped in the water for a source of safety, and when failing to find any her legs thrashed in a desperate attempt to make her resurface and swallow a gallon of air. It only took a second for the tide to drag her back under. Her sudden panic granted the salty sea access into her mouth which left her tongue to shrivel up as she was greeted by the surface once more, her hands gripping tightly onto one of the rocks at the base of the cliff. The waves jerked her around, slamming her ribs against the jagged edges of the rock that forced a cry of pain from her lips.
Suddenly, Kaila was reminded of why she avoided the ocean.
Just past the edge of the cliff, Kaila could see the twinkle of a bonfire on the beach, the flame occasionally shrouded by the silhouette of one of her friends. She knew that right now she could have been with them. She could be enduring whatever cheesy ghost stories Gabriel had to tell her and the others, and then laugh when he insisted that each fable was as true as his eyes were green. If she had chosen that option, she would have been safe. Instead, she had tears pouring down across her cheeks while her fingers clung to a rock.
“Help,” she said, screaming over the waves. “Gabriel! Mason! Adaline!”
Kaila waited a few moments, but she wasn’t sure if she even received an answer. She screamed again, and again she couldn’t hear an answer. For how long she continued to scream she didn’t know, but it was long enough to make her throat burn. Pressing her forehead to the rock, Kaila found her grip beginning to slip. Her fingers were moments from surrendering to the ocean’s wrath when the image of that oversized jacket filled her head, and a thought struck her. If she gave up, would she be able to see him again? Would she see the owner of that jacket, her brother, who too found himself powerless to the sea three years ago?
The water that brushed over her hands suddenly felt warm, like a hand welcoming her and coaxing her to let go willingly. Slowly Kaila obeyed, her fingers uncurling themselves from the rock as she turned to reach her hand back into the black churning sea.
“Kaila, is that you?”
She froze at the sound of her name. That feminine voice that drifted out into the night belonged to Adaline, she was sure of it. Out on the pier of the beach, she could see two figures, one much shorter than the other waving a hand above her head.
“Addie!” Kaila said.
“Hold on, Mason will be there soon!”
The taller figure jumped off the pier and disappeared into the water, but even as hopeful as it looked, Kaila still felt her fingers slipping away. The fear of being sucked under jolted through her body once more.
“I can’t do it,” she said, whispering to herself.
Hold on. You can do it. At that moment she wasn’t sure if that voice she heard was her last shred of hope or something else that urged her, but as the water slipped back over her hand she dug her fingers tighter into the rock and squeezed with all her strength until she found Mason by her side. His arm enveloped her, pulling her across the ocean’s surface and back towards the sturdy sand of the beach. Adaline spared little time in running down from the pier towards them, and from behind another pair of footsteps approached them. Gabriel’s concerned expression could be seen from the corner of her eye as he draped that bulky jacket over her shoulders.
“Kaila, are you okay?” Adaline asked.
“What were you thinking?” Mason asked, scolding her.
Their questions fell on deaf ears. Kaila pulled her phone from the pocket of her brother’s swim team jacket. The screen insisted that it was midnight and that a new day had washed over her. Peeling her gaze away from the artificial light of her device, Kaila found the reflection of the moon in the now amiable lull of the shifting tide — Its tormenting behavior now submissive under the watchful lunar gaze. Staring at it made her smile, and she nodded to it believing that the voice she heard was his and that even now when she spoke, he would hear her from the water.