“When did you know you were lost?” he asked.
Rochelle gazed into the golden-hued waves, tinted by the sun which had just dipped below the horizon. “I simply woke up one day and didn’t know who I was anymore.”
The man who’d introduced himself as ‘Jason’ gave her a sideways glance.
Silence disrupted her trance. “Oh, you meant here, in Ensenada, didn’t you?” She let out a nervous giggle, hopeful the approaching evening disguised her blush. “Turns out I need to brush up on my Spanish. I went izquierda when I should have gone derecha, I guess.”
He laughed. “I’ve lived here for two years and I still get lost.”
“Where did you live before that?”
“It’s not too far from Sedona, if I remember correctly.” She exhaled a wistful sigh that would’ve betrayed her angst, had he known her better. “I’m glad we met and you knew how to get to this beach. The sunset was beautiful.”
“Estero Beach can be touristy, but it’s a nice place.”
Her gaze drifted to the rhythmic surf. The scents of fish tacos and her new friend’s after shave hung in the periphery of her consciousness; the pull not strong enough to break the oceanic trance. Each wave tumbled onto the sand and slipped back out to the Pacific, only to stretch farther onto shore the next time. She felt as if she could rediscover her soul if she searched the foam soaking into the sand carefully enough.
“Have you found yourself?”
“You said you didn’t know who you were. If you can’t find yourself in a Mexican sunset, I don’t know where else to look.”
Rochelle pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “I’m figuring out how to close the gap between the person I left behind and who I want to be.” She glanced at the man beside her, surprised his gaze rested on her rather than the surf. The attention made her a little uneasy. “So what brought you to Ensenada?”
“I wanted to lose myself.”
She furrowed her brow while contemplating the irony of their situations. “Why?”
He traced a finger in the sand, making an incoherent doodle. “I kind of messed up my life and needed a new start.”
“Ah, there’s the story. ”
“Had to be love or money.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Every conflict known to man can be tied to those two things.”
“What about Hitler’s occupation of Nazi Germany? That wasn’t a conflict driven by love.”
“Actually, it was,” she said, pointing her index finger toward the darkening sky. “It was his love of the master race that drove him to commit atrocities against the rest of society.”
“Conflict didn’t bring me here.”
Rochelle rolled her eyes. “People don’t usually run to another country if life is perfect.”
“So what’s your story?
He laughed. “Repeating the question to stall for an answer is the oldest trick in the book.”
“I suppose you could say it was love gone wrong.”
“I enjoy a good jilted lover story.”
She shook her head. “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.” She smiled to take the edge off her words.
“So you came here alone?”
She nodded. “I needed to get away on my schedule.”
He inched toward her, closing the appropriate gap between them.
She edged away, plagued by another flicker of uncertainty. “I’d better get back to my hotel.”
“I appreciate your kindness, but I have to go.” Rochelle reached for her sandals.
Jason held her wrist. “It can be a dangerous place at night.”
His ominous tone prickled the hairs on the back of her neck. She broke his grip. “I can handle myself.” She scrambled to her feet and jogged toward the main road, urged on by the sound of his footfalls closing in behind her.
He hooked his elbow around her neck. “I robbed an armored truck and killed the driver,” he said in her ear. “America’s Most Wanted couldn’t even find me.”
She clawed his arm, panicked memories triggering her fight response. She shoved him off balance and fell on top of him, knocking the air from his lungs. She straddled his body, his arms pinned beneath her.
His eyes bulged when her fingers encircled his neck.
“I killed a man with my bare hands.” She leaned forward, her thumbs collapsing his airway. “I can hide another body.”
This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly prompt, which is to write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is just shy of the limit) and (1) use “When did you know you were lost?” he asked. as the first sentence AND (2) make some reference to the photo prompt given on the Speakeasy site (I didn’t post it here.)
The last couple weeks, I did love stories, but this week, I decided to bring twisted back. Ah, feels like I’m home, haha 🙂
The challenge is open to anyone, so if you’re inspired, adventurous, or just curious, click the badge below to check it out!