Short story submission by talented and up-and-coming Maldivian writers
I’m at the beach. The only light is coming from the tiny specks we call stars up high in the sky, but towards the horizon, it is still dark. Darker than black.
I remember the first time I saw you. Maybe it was the way your hair flowed freely in the wind, curly and wild, or the way your eyes smiled - a secret smile, just for me - because as it got darker, I couldn’t help but stare. Not at the sunset, but at you. After having been around the same people, stuck on the same island for years, your presence was a welcome change. It wasn’t the blazing bonfire that lit up the horizon that night. It was you.
The night progressed and a glimmer caught my eye. A figure sitting by the shore in the darkness, moonlight glinting off the bottle they had in their hand. Your fiery mane of hair was easy to distinguish in the gloom. A splash, followed by laughter in the distance. They should watch out for rays, but how can they? The streetlights don’t reach this far out and they must be too wasted to care.
I called out to them and the laughter is reduced to giggles, and then nothing. Silence. You turned and smiled, patting the ground beside you. And as we sat there, sipping our beers – warm, because I had stupidly forgotten the ice - we talked about our lives. Yours in the city, mine on this godforsaken island. It was beautiful, the way you spun your sentences. I don’t remember what it was you said, but I remember how you said it all. Your sporadic gestures.
Even when we fell short of words, it was far from uncomfortable. I felt as if I’d known you for longer than I had. You felt familiar.
All too soon, it was time for you to leave. The walk back to your place was quiet, no promises made to meet again. But I knew. This wasn’t the last time I’d see you.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, you kissed my cheek. Thanked me for the company. Bid me farewell. You closed the door in my face and I heard you slump against it. A sigh. Utter joy. I wasn’t the only one.
- Aishath Nishdha Jinan