During her third attempt, Kym nearly got crushed by a wave. She was standing by the shore, eyes shut tight in concentration. It wasn’t until she felt the spray of fresh saltwater on her cheek when her eyes flew open, and she noticed the fifteen-foot-wave approaching the shore. She scurried back, sand and water flying in her face as the wave smashed to the shore with a thundering crash.
Kym growled and brushed the sea foam off her shirt. She stood to her feet and scanned the beach. She was still East; she could tell by the commotion on her right. Vacationers swarmed around tents and tour shops. Many dined with tropical drinks and laughed with one another. It was difficult to distinguish the line between the wooden tables and seashore, making Kym’s goal twice as hard to achieve.
She took a minute to consider her options. She could do more exploring East, but that might get her lost. It might even wake her up. But no. She was still headset on finding the boy West.
Kym slept night after night trying to control her dreams, but she was self-taught. Her habits were unpredictable, and she’d often end up in different places. But this beach was distinctive. She’d been here enough times to know it was important. Something connected to reality.
The first time she saw the boy West, it was a cool autumn afternoon. Kym wasn’t surprised. In reality, it was late November. But there was a peculiar chill to the breeze. One that was more surreal than usual. A thick layer of mist was spread over the sky like a cloudy sheet, shielding the blazing sun without shadowing the landscape. In life, she’d spent every summer by the beach since infancy, but this place had no trace of similarity whatsoever. After all, it was only a dream.
While East had a lot of commotion, West was the polar opposite. Not a single person stood by the shore. Actually, the area was a lot more elevated and closer to the dunes than East. There was no chance of getting soaked by water. This stretch often contained treasurable shells and marine indulgences. However, this was the most precarious part of the beach – whenever Kym started to cross West, she could feel her consciousness arising and verging on waking up. Then she had no idea how many days it would take to reappear.
Kym had seen the boy West once. Last week, she had been roaming West, and spotted one figure by the dunes. He was slender and tall, with flaxen blond hair and a pale complexion. He wore a simple white shirt and navy jeans. He had a strong aura of introversion around him. Although he remained completely silent, his hands were constantly in motion. As Kym looked closer, she noticed what he was doing – crafting paper origami stars at the speed of sound.
The boy was slim but daunting. No one neared him. The first time Kym advanced, remaining twenty yards away from him, he shot daggers hard as steel from his icy cobalt eyes, flashing a handful of paper stars.
Kym quickly retreated.
Whenever she woke up in the morning, every moment of last night’s dream would drain directly out of her mind. She forced her eyes closed, trying to hold onto every remnant possible, but by the time sunlight lined her curtain, her thoughts morphed into liquid slipping from her grasp.
But every now and then, Kym would remember a specific person or two. She could still envision his shaggy blond hair, red and blue paper stars. She knew that she had something in common with him. She only had to figure out what.
She had to find him again.
Tonight, she appeared East, which wasn’t much of an advantage. After nearly getting drenched by a wave, Kym knew she had to try harder to control her space. She had to go West and search for the boy. But she could only see the other side. One wrong turn and she might step into oblivion for the rest of the night. This would require some special form of teleportation.
After several minutes of searching, Kym found a small, isolated spot by the beach with no people within a range of ten feet. She was far away enough from the ocean but not too close to the commotion East.
Kym took a deep breath and gazed out at the sea. She split her mind in two – half of her focus directed on the horizon; the line far out where the current was smooth and touched the sky. She then envisioned herself West, West, West. Her eyes remained on the horizon for a solid minute or two.
Then she blinked and regained her surroundings.
She was closer to the shore but standing on solid sand. There was no commotion; no sound whatsoever except for the foam gently licking the tide. She hoped she hadn’t gone too far… until she looked behind her.
The boy West was curled up by the dunes, shaggy blond hair shielding his eyes. Although his hands were in constant motion, they moved more swiftly than vigorously; energy without zest. The creasing of the paper was somehow completely silent.
Kym didn’t want to know whether or not he noticed her, so she casually looked down and took slow, small steps across the sand. She once again kept her mind in two positions; one searching for prizes but keeping an eye on the boy West.
Kym didn’t roam too far. To stabilize her position, she knelt down and picked up a shiny, almost translucent coin-sized oyster shell. She smiled and ran her fingers over it. When vacationing, she often made necklaces for her mother and friends with these types of shells. The first time she glimpsed at the boy, it was difficult for her to make out his facial features, except for his cobalt blue eyes. When she finally looked up at him, he was still folding away, staring down.
At that moment, Kym felt a strange flash down her spine. This time, she was certain more than ever that they had something deep in common.
Kym could only wonder what. She had friends in life. She would socialize with others regularly. The boy West was the opposite. He clearly despised company.
But Kym had a way with people. She always discovered how to get someone to warm up to her. She could be amicable and friendly. Actually, she befriended many of the new kids who would come to her school, and she’d been at that place for nine years before starting high school. There had to be some way to contact the boy West.
Kym took a minute to examine the shell. When she looked up, the boy West now sat twice as far away, glaring at her intensely. He flashed three paper stars in his left hand. She had the feeling that if he threw them like frisbees, three of her fingers would go missing. Her mind instantly screamed, RUN!
But it was too late to make a decision. As she clutched the shiny oyster, Kym could feel her consciousness dissolving into reality. She stared at the boy West, trying not to wake up, but the blue and grey of the beach was soon painted orange and her eyes fluttered open.
Now awakened, Kym cussed to herself and sat up groggily, running her hand through her smooth chestnut hair. She opened her palm, wishing that the oyster was there, but all that remained were memories.
A smile tingled on her lips. She’d done it! She’d made it to West! For the first time, her strategy didn’t slip away.
Kym didn’t know when she would next see the boy West. But she was positive that she would find him again.