Ocean Scented Tears
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The cool waves crashed around her feet and the sun shone on the small Xweetok's face, as if rejuvenating her. The day was bright and alive but inside she felt the exact opposite. The calm, lovely ocean always calmed her down, but today it only made her want to cry.
Savannah’s family was leaving Mystery Island, the only home she had ever known. She had been born and raised here; the beach was her backyard and the ocean her lullaby. Every morning she woke up to the lovely sun, always drawing her from slumber. Everywhere she went there was sand in her toes and the soft sea breeze in her air. But now, she had to leave that all behind.
Her owner, Trevi, had decided to relocate them to Terror Mountain. She had received a job offer there and had accepted it without even asking for Savannah’s opinion. They were leaving today. Savannah knew that this would have never happened if Dakota was still here.
Just thinking of Dakota made Savannah’s heart hurt. She had left two years ago, but Savannah still remembered it as if it were yesterday. She could still feel the tears in her eyes and the pounding of her feet crunching the sand as she raced after her elder sister. That memory had permanently left a scar on her, the day when Dakota had abandoned them.
Perhaps what made it even worse was that Trevi had acted as if it hadn’t even happened. While Savannah missed Dakota more than anything, Trevi pretended as if she had never existed. Life went on for her, while Savannah’s whole world had stopped since then.
Savannah had always held out hope that one day Dakota would return. Dakota would poke her gentle and eager Lutari face into the kitchen one day, babbling on about how much she had missed them. They would all live together as a family again and life would be perfect. Now, though, Dakota would never be able to find them if she returned since they would be gone.
Savannah couldn’t bear to leave behind the memories either. Here, Dakota’s spirit lived on. Her laughter was in the swaying palm trees and her soothing voice echoed in the coves on the cliff behind their house. Savannah could still envision the years they had spent on this beach, lying on the warm sand or the nights where they had stayed up all night talking and laughing in the room they shared. Now, even when Dakota was gone, she was still somehow here. Her spirit lingered, her essence was still in everything Savannah did.
“Savannah?” Trevi’s voice drifted through the air from the house. “We have to leave soon.”
Savannah closed her eyes in pain. She had almost forgotten that they had to leave within the hour. Just the thought made her want to curl into a ball and lie there forever, away from Trevi and the rest of the world. Maybe Dakota would rescue her and they would sail away on the ocean forever. They had always wanted to live on a boat in the sea together.
“Savannah?” Trevi spoke softly, closer now. “We really do have to be on our way before the sun sets.”
Savannah turned toward her owner, a blank expression on her face. Trevi looked at her, concerned. She knew that it was hard for Savannah to leave this place, but she hadn’t expected it to be this difficult. The red Xweetok seemed numb, as if she couldn’t come to terms with what was happening.
“Can we stay for the sunset?” Savannah asked shakily, solemn as a stone.
Trevi was taken aback at first by the question, but then she nodded slowly, not quite knowing how to respond.
“Will you watch it with me?” Savannah asked again after a few moments of tense silence.
“Of course,” Trevi replied, a tremor in her voice. She felt like crying but she didn’t quite know why.
Savannah sat down, cross-legged, and stared off into the sky. The sun was beginning to descend but it would still be at least another hour until it blended into the horizon before disappearing altogether.
Trevi stood next to her, used to the silence. Ever since Dakota had gone away, Savannah had become a different person. Although she still smiled and talked, it was different. The smile never quite reached her eyes and her voice was timid, as if she needed something to steady her. Trevi was used to Savannah sitting on the beach for hours on end, sometimes even days, when she was in a depressed mood. It was just another thing Trevi had come to terms with and although it broke her heart seeing her pet in pain, there was really nothing she could do. Only Dakota could ever truly fix Savannah.
“Dakota and I used to watch sunsets all the time,” Savannah whispered reminiscently.
“I know,” Trevi replied. She could still remember the two of them sitting on the beach, Savannah leaning on her older sister, looking at the horizon with bright smiles and starry eyes.
“She used to tell me that the sun and the moon were sisters, but they had been separated. They could never share the same sky. They were forced to rotate Neopia at different times, never seeing each other, forced apart,” Savannah said to Trevi, her voice broken, “It's funny how much that story reminds me of how we are now.”
“Savannah, Dakota will always be in your heart,” she replied with tears in her eyes. “If she lives on in your memories then she’ll never leave.”
Trevi couldn’t tell if Savannah heard her, because she still stared off into the horizon, emotionless. A tear trickled down Trevi’s face and into the warm sand.
“You know, Savannah, I took the job offer because I thought it would be good for you to get away from here,” Trevi admitted with a sigh, gazing into the distance wistfully.
“What?” Savannah asked. There was confusion and a demanding tone in her voice.
“You don’t understand, Savannah. Sitting out here and moping around on the beach is bad. In order to get over Dakota, you have to move on. If we’re in a place where she still lives on, where you’re still reminded of her, then you’ll never be able to get on with your life. We weren’t meant to dwell in our past; life is about moving forward and forgetting all the bad things that happened before.” Trevi was crying now, large tears streaming down her face.
“No! I can’t forget her. She was my sister. I loved her! I still do,” Savannah shouted, jumping up now, her face red and hands clenched in fists.
“I’m not saying to forget her,” Trevi pleaded. “I’m asking you to get on with your life! You’ll always have the memories and she’ll always be in your heart, but you can’t constantly ponder what would happen if she were still here or how much you miss her. I miss her too, Savannah, more than you know. It hurt me too when she died.”
“Don’t say that!” Savannah shrieked suddenly, putting her hands over her ears. “She’s not gone!”
Trevi was sobbing now, but she reached out for Savannah. “It’s not your fault. The waves were too strong. You would’ve never made it if you would’ve gone in after her. You know how good of a swimmer she was, but even that couldn’t save her.”
“No, it is my fault. The strong wind blew my floppy hat into the water. I started complaining because it was my favorite hat and she insisted that she go in and get it. And then she never came back.” Savannah was shaking now, her lower lip trembling.
Savannah could still remember the terror that went through her body when Dakota never came back out of the water. She had screamed her name until her throat was raw. She had waded waist-deep into the water, crying and screaming, before Trevi had pulled her out. Savannah had never fully accepted that she was gone. She had always held out hope that she would return one day, popping out of the water with a grin on her face, light in her eyes and the floppy hat between her teeth.
“Savannah, let it go,” Trevi whispered, before wrapping her pet in a hug. The red Xweetok's body shook with sobs as she fell into her owner’s arms, burying her face into Trevi’s shoulder.
Finally, Savannah breathed and backed away, swallowing the sadness. The sun was setting now, floating on the ocean. She pointed at it and Trevi nodded, smiling. They watched it disappear into the horizon together, both standing side by side as they took in the beautiful glory of it all.
Savannah closed her eyes and breathed, letting out a sigh before smiling and saying, “I’m ready to leave now.”
Trevi grinned happily, gently rubbing Savannah's back. “Ok, let’s go catch our ride.”
As they walked away together, the beach and the ocean became farther and farther behind them. When their former home was almost a speck in the distance, Savannah turned around to look at it one last time.
“Good bye, Dakota.” She waved, tears streaming down her face. And Savannah knew that somewhere, Dakota was waving back with a smile on her face.