I am entering a writing contest. The contest shows you a picture, and you have to write a short story that is exactly 1,000 words (excluding the title) based off this picture. The picture showed a man sitting on some rocks by the ocean, staring out across the water. This is the story I wrote. I hope you enjoy!
On the Rocks
It seemed like it had been so long since he had been here. Really, it had only been a few months. Time seemed to slow down now that she wasn’t there. Walking to the rock, “their rock,” as they had come to call it, was harder than ever. He could feel his heart start to pound harder and faster and his breath came in short, shallow gasps. He sat down on the rocks, the waves lapping at his feet, and waited for the panic attack to subside. He had forgotten to bring his pills, which the doctor had prescribed after the funeral. He’d never experienced a panic attack before then. When the first one came, he thought he was dying. How stupid of him to forget them on such an important day- their wedding day.
He stared out to sea, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together. The day was overcast and just a bit drizzly, making the water look gray, rather than its usual blue. The last time he had been here, she had been next to him, laughing and planning out their future. They had been so excited. She had talked about how many kids they would have, what kind of house they would live in, where they would travel. Now that had all been ripped away.
How could she have been so stupid, coming out here alone in a rain storm? She had to have known the waves would be stronger and the rocks would be slicker. Of course, if he hadn’t gotten mad at her and taken off in the car to cool off, she wouldn’t have felt the need to come alone. Everybody tried to tell him it wasn’t his fault; there was no way he could have known what would happen. But they couldn’t convince him.
He pulled out the picture of them he always kept in his wallet. It was his favorite of her. Her arms were wrapped around his chest and her head rested on his back. She was smiling and her bright blue eyes were looking straight at the camera. Her brunette hair had been pulled back, but a few stray hairs framed her oval face. Her smile always made her eyes light up. After staring at the picture for a moment, he put his head in his hands and quietly began to sob. He’d always detested crying in a man. It was weak and useless. But when you lose the one you love, nothing made sense anymore. All your beliefs go out the window and slam to the ground, breaking into a million pieces.
“Thought I might find you here,” a voice said. He looked up to see his brother standing on the rocks behind him.
“John,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
John climbed across the bigger of the two rocks and sat down next to him. “Mom’s worried about you. You weren’t answering your phone. She asked me to find you.” He wiped the tears from his eyes and turned away. John put a hand on his shoulder. “You shouldn’t be here. Not today.”
“Where else could I go?” he asked. “I miss her so much.”
“I know, man, I know. Ellie was something special. She was beautiful inside and out,” John said, quietly.
“Did I ever tell you the fisherman who pulled her out of the water called me the day after the funeral?” he asked, looking down at the water. It was so crystal clear. The only thing clear in his life right now.
John looked at him, concerned. He slowly shook his head. “No, you never told me that.”
“He said he’d seen her obituary in the newspaper and how sorry he was. He wished he could have done something more, but she was already gone by the time he got to shore. He told me he would give anything to be able to bring her back.” He looked at John, tears in his eyes. “Why couldn’t I have been there for her?”
“This isn’t your fault, you know that. Come on. Let’s go back to Mom’s. Today’s not a day to be alone,” John told him, trying to pull him up.
“Just give me another minute, please,” he pleaded.
John sighed. “I’ll be in my truck if you need me.”
He didn’t answer, but nodded in response. After John’s steps faded into silence, he closed his eyes, imagining she was here with him. The medics told him she had hit her head on a rock, probably knocking her out. The waves were so strong that they pulled her body out, away from the beach. But now, in his mind, she was there next to him, running her fingers through his hair, laughing and smiling. When sitting there, she would usually splash him with the water. He would pretend to get mad, but they both knew he loved how playful she was.
After a moment, he heard a soft clinking noise. He opened his eyes and looked down. He saw a silver chain being pushed into the rock below him by the waves. He reached down and grabbed it. Once he saw the heart-shaped locket, his eyes widened. This was the necklace he’d given to her on her birthday, just a few months before she died. She had loved it and worn it every day afterward. He opened the locket to find their picture was still in it. It was a copy of the picture he carried in his wallet, the one he had been looking at only moments before.
He looked up to the sky and smiled, tears running down his face. Somehow, he knew she was there with him. She had been waiting for him to return so she could return the locket to him. He stood and sighed, keeping his eyes to the sky. At that moment, the sun broke through the clouds, shining onto his face. He now felt that, given time, he could move on.