BackWash

By CJ Adler All Rights Reserved ©

Romance

Flash Back

Two years ago…

“Gabs!” Matt calls over his shoulder to me, “The waves are great! You have to come in!” Matt cries encouragingly as the hot rays of the sun beat down on him and the breakers. I watch as he and his best friend, Jacob, begin running into the sea.

“Coming little bro, just grabbing my board!” I shout excitedly after him as I reach for my surfboard only to find it’s not there anymore.

“Here,” a voice says courteously, handing my board to me.

I smile at Chase, “Thanks.” I say and take my board from his out stretched hands. He’d cleaned it for me along with that of his own.

“Welcome,” he grins playfully, flashing me a thumbs up. “Gotta surf in style,” he winks.

“You coming in?” I ask, gesturing to the expanse of blue lying before us.

It was the perfect day. The sun was out. The sky and sea were clear in their blue hues. The shore was golden and soft beneath our toes. And the waves - oh the waves were absolutely stunning for a day’s surf.

“How could you ask such a question GabbyBear?” Chase asks teasingly, “Don’t you know me at all?” I knew him very well and we both knew that. Chase would never miss a day’s surf no matter the cost.

No matter the cost…

No matter the cost!

I laugh, shaking my head at him. He brushes my actions aside as he grabs hold of my hand and drags me after him into the salty sea. He never had patience. If he wanted something he would get it at that precise moment.

“Gabb Gabbs!” A platinum blonde calls from further in the ocean. He’s quick to swim up to me before dunking me under the water playfully.

“Caleb!” I shout as I slap him against his broad chest. He merely laughs at my misfortune. He’d always been the jokester in our group of friends.

It’s not long before someone tackles Caleb down in the water. Of course I know who it is. Tyler and Caleb are practically inseparable. “Don’t be mean to Gabs, you know she can tear you to pieces. If anyone should know, it’s us.” Tyler grins before he shoves Caleb aside and pulls me into a friendly hug.

“Hey Ty.” I grin happily as I help Caleb back up to his feet. “You two lunatics having fun?”

Why do I bother asking? Of course they’re having fun. They’re never not having fun.

“You bet they are.” I turn to see the caramel haired beauty, Stels. “Hey hey Gabs!” She smiles at me before motioning to the sea. “Get out there, the waves are sick today.”

“Chase and I are going now.” I answer and when I see all three of their facial expressions, I come to realize that Chase is no longer standing beside me. No…he’s out in the distance with Matt and Jacob. He’s already surfing. That impatient guy. He’d sacrifice anything to live in the ocean. I swear it. No one loves the waves more than he and Matt do.

“Yeah - seems he left you hanging - again.” Ty jokes, “But don’t worry Gabby my hottie, you still got me.” Ty clicks his tongue and winks suggestively at me. He’d always been a flirt.

“Lay off man.” I hear a voice entering the ocean from behind me. I turn to meet emerald green eyes and black hair.

“Brent bro, you finally arrived!” Caleb calls to Brent excitedly. I shoot Brent a smile of greeting, welcoming him into the ocean. Most of us surfers knew each other. We were kind of like a close knitted family if you will.

“Arriving late as always.” Stels grins cheekily up at him. Brent scoffs, knowing it was true. He was always the last in, whilst Chase was usually the first in and last out.

“Whatever girl.” He sasses Stels in a diva voice back before razzeling her hair with his free hand, his board under his arm. Then Brent turns to greet me, “Gabs, gorgeous as ever I see.” He messes with me as I merely laugh and shake my head at him.

“And you tell me to lay off the flirting.” Ty speaks up with a pout that Caleb very quickly smacks off his lips. “Owe! That hurt you nitwit!” Ty glares at Caleb before they begin fighting and splashing in the ocean as per usual. Nothing out of the norm.

Caleb sticks just his hand and his face out the water, “Help! Help me! Ty’s gone bat-shit cray cray!” Caleb yells out with a mouthful of water and sand before Ty drags him back under with the next wave.

Brent, Stels and I all ignore them, use to their daily behaviour. Nothing new. We weren’t going to get involved, so we allow Ty his fun and Caleb his punishment.

I play along and flatter Brent back, “You look pretty dashing yourself.”

Brent smirks at this, “Flattery will get you nowhere Missy. You’re going to have to do better than that to sweep me off my feet and get me to run away and elope with you.” He teases much to Stel’s amusement.

“Anyways guys, I’ll catch you all later. I’m out for today.” Stels comments, waving goodbye to us as she walks out the ocean. I don’t miss Brent staring after her, definitely checking her out.

Tyler must see it too, “She’s got a fine ass huh?” Tyler comments as he comes to stand beside Brent with a taunting smirk. “Too bad it’s taken and it’s not yours to look at.” Ty reminds Brent that Stels indeed had a boyfriend. His name was Duke and he was actually a pretty ‘A-okay’ guy. Very chilled. But the guys didn’t particularly like him because he could be a bit of a showoff in the waves and everything was always a competition with him.

Brent rolls his eyes and slaps Tyler upside the head. No doubt Brent has a crush on Stels. He always has. I’m very perceptive. I see things.

“She is hot.” Caleb nods, agreeing, still trying to regain his breath after almost being drowned by Ty.

It’s my turn to roll my eyes, “Catch your tongues and put them back in your mouths, you’re all lapping up the entire ocean.” I say playfully before adding, “You guys need to stop drooling over Stels. One day Duke is going to see it and kill you all and I’m not saving your asses.” Caleb pouts at this. Irresistible. I sigh. “Fine. Maybe just Caleb.” Caleb grins in victory at my words and fist pumps the air.

Duke also happened to be very, and I mean very, possessive over Stels. He’s also known for his short temper. But other than that, he’s very sweet.

Ty smirks at me before he plants an unexpected sloppy kiss on my cheek, “Don’t be jelly Baby, I still love you and check your behind out when you’re not looking. Why do you think I bail so much when I’m surfing behind you?”

I frown at his insinuation, feeling a little nauseous all of a sudden. Ty’s a good looking guy with his dark hair, dark eyes and tanned skin, but his personality revolts me. I will only see him as a friend and that’s it. Time to give him a taste of his own medicine. “I just assumed you bail so much because you naturally suck. You eat my waves.” I grin, challenging him.

Tyler’s mouth falls agape at my insult as Brent laughs aloud, Caleb closing Ty’s mouth for him. Tyler quickly regains his composure before he lunges for me and throws me over his shoulder, “We’ll see about that. Challenge accepted!” Ty shouts as he walks further into the ocean with me in order to challenge me in surfing.

“Kick his ass Gabs!” Brent calls out to me, showing me a fist directed at Ty.

“Take her down Ty! Destroy her! Kill her! Annihilate her! Rape her waves!” Caleb routes for Ty. So predictable.

I grin at Brent, wondering when he’d join us. Of course he’d only come in much later and by that I mean he’ll only come in when Chase gets out. The two hate each other so they avoid each other as much as possible. I don’t understand why because they’re both very laid back guys. Every time I ask either of them what their deal is, they change the subject. Brent always tells me that I should hear it from Chase and not from him. Chase always tells me to mind my own business.

I don’t miss the look Brent shoots Caleb for his comment. Caleb shrugs and holds his hands up defensively, “Too much?” He questions innocently.

“There’s always that one guy who goes too far.” Brent says, referring to Caleb and his comments.

I laugh at this. That was so our Caleb.

“Gabriela!” a voice shouts in my ear. I jolt upright and my eyes widen. I did it again. I dozed off into dreamland, reminiscing on the good ol’days when everything was still perfect.

I tear my gaze off the waves before me and glance up through my lashes to meet his concerned emerald eyes. “Sorry,” I mouth to him wordlessly.

“You zoned out on me again.” Brent points out and I can’t help but feel guilty. He had to put up with a depressed person the entire time. I can’t understand why he hasn’t yet abandoned me like the others had.

“I’m sorry Brent.” I apologize sincerely in a hoarse voice at the reminder that I’d never get the good ol’days back. But I don’t want to lose my only friend that I have left. Brent is the only one that stayed to support me through the tragedy of my brother’s death. The others kind of backed off a little to give me my space. I appreciated that, but I never asked them to leave for good. They backed up so much until we reached the the point where they were now all strangers to me again.

“Hey hey.” Brent says softly and gently, “It’s okay.” He assures me before drawing me into his chest to comfort me. He knows that I was thinking back. I tend to do it often. It’s a temptation I can’t seem to overcome. I’d be better off not dwelling on the past. “What were you thinking about?” He asks inquisitively into my hair. He always asks because he enjoys our memories we shared together with the others.

So I tell him as he holds me and listens tentatively.

He laughs every now and then. I watch him tenderly, seeing through those green depths his own longing to have his past back. He hides it in order to be strong for me. But I can tell Brent misses those days too.

I move off of Brent’s chest as I glance up at the grey sky, “I think a storm is on its way.”

Brent nods, “We should get going then. I know you hate storms ever since…” Brent trails off, realizing his mistake.

A panicked expression crosses his features.

I place my hand atop of his to reassure him that I’ll be okay, “Don’t worry about it. You just go and enjoy that college party. I don’t want to ruin it for you.”

“And go without you?” Brent scoffs rather dramatically, “I’d rather spend time with you eating mud than go to a party without you.”

I can’t help but smile a little at this and Brent seems to be caught off guard, “What?” I huff softly, feeling self-conscious under his piercing gaze of emerald and jade.

He shakes his head slightly, “Nothing.” He flashes me his famous kilowatt grin, “I just forgot how nice it is to see you smile every once in a while.”

I fall quiet at this and go back to staring out at the ocean. It’s as if I’m reliving the past every time I step foot onto this exact shoreline.

“Gabs!”

It almost feels as if Matt’s spirit is here with me now.

I can practically hear him calling me from a distance. I can picture him running onto the shore with Jacob in toe, his famous red surfboard underneath his right arm. His smile would be wide and joyful and he’d be grinning down at me, his wetsuit dripping water on my dry clothes.

He was always smiling.

“You gotta try the waves Gabs.” He’d say and I can practically hear his voice drifting off the waves of the ocean.

His spirit lingers here. I can almost feel him with me now. His presence lingers here.

He’d always said that the waves were great every single day. He was an optimist by heart and nature. He lived, he really lived.

I miss him with all I have.

Brent stands up, offering me his hand. I take it and he pulls me up to my feet, “Let’s get you home before the storm comes in.” He says just a ray of lightning crosses the horizon over the ocean. I nod hesitantly, not wanting to leave because I felt closer to Matt here.

I don’t say anything as Brent leads the way back to his car. He’d fetched me after my argument with my mom. “Brent?”

“Yeah?” He answers, turning around to face me as he brushes his black hair out of his face.

“Go to the party.” I encourage, “Please go, for me. I want you to enjoy yourself. I’m not your responsibility and I want you to live your life for you and not for me. You deserve to have fun. I’ll be fine. I promise.”

“Okay, just let me drop you off first.” Brent accepts easily, already knowing that I wouldn’t let him stay for me. He was never the argumentative type. He gives in easily.

Upon reaching home, Brent was so worried that he kept telling me to call if I needed anything. I tried to reassure him until he eventually he left. He deserved a night out to have fun.

I’m about to enter my home when my eyes stray to the house beside mine. I don’t fail to notice the car parked in the driveway.

Chase is home.

Inside, I’m terrified to speak to him alone, but I know I have to. I owe it to him to tell him that I’m sorry and that it was never his fault. He deserves that much. With that thought in mind and butterflies streaming across my tummy, I head straight for his house, knocking only once before his mother opens the door.

“Gabriela.” She says shocked, pausing, before happily embracing me. She’d always loved me. Though these days I barely visit nor stop by despite staying right next door. It was a rare occurrence, when three years ago I practically lived with her family. “It’s so good to see you.” She releases me and steps back to take a good look at me, “Did you stop by on behalf of your mother? Forgive me for my rudeness, it’s just - you haven’t been around lately.”

“Um…is Chase home?” I ask, already knowing that he was. I find it incredibly strange that he’s missing out on the college party. No doubt he’d heard about it. Chase was always the biggest party animal. He’d never miss a party, but now that’s all changed. Now he doesn’t give a damn about anything or anyone. He’s self absorbed, selfish. He just looks out for himself. For him, it’s the only way to survive.

Mrs Fuller seems taken aback at my request. She knew Chase and I had a falling out, but she didn’t know the reasons for it, “Hon, are you sure that’s the best idea right now? He just got home and-“

“I’m not here to cause trouble. I’ll be quick. There’s just something I need him to hear. Please.” I say as she contemplates it before opening the door wider and allowing me in.

“He’s in his room. He’s moody today. You’ve been warned.” She smiles sadly at me. I shoot her grateful smile before heading upstairs, well aware that he’s moody. He’d been so earlier.

I come to a halt at his door, sucking in a deep breath. I know he hates me. But I have to say this. He needs to know.

I knock on his door a couple of times only to receive no answer. I’m guessing he knows I’m here, that or he’s really pissed off with the world today. I keep knocking only to receive no answer. I try opening the door only to find that it’s locked. A part of me is relieved while the other part of me knows he needs to hear what I have to say.

I sigh mentally before turning to leave. A thunderous sound erupts from outside before the rain comes pelting down above us against the roof of the house sheltering us.

It’s storming.

It’s as if the thunder represents Chase in that moment because suddenly the door is unlocked from inside and swings open to reveal his blue eyes. “Didn’t catch the hint, did you?” He hisses, “I don’t want you here.” He says coldly, so emotionless, before slamming his door back shut in my face.

Before he gets the chance to lock the door, I open it again and force my way in. He glares at me with his arms crossed over his lean and defined chest that seems to distract me for a mere split second. “Just hear me out.” I plead, readjusting my focus from his fit form. Right now I’m so desperate I’ll even resort to begging.

He shakes his head, “How about no? Get out.” He replies bitterly, pointing to his door.

“Just give me two minutes and I’ll be gone.” I try to persuade him again.

“What did I say about staying out of my way?!” He snaps, not listening. He wasn’t having it. He wasn’t going to give me his time of day to hear what I had to say.

“Chase please-“

“Get out Gabriela!” He raises his tone, causing me to cower and flinch back, afraid that he’d hurt me. No doubt that he would. “Get out.” He whispers dangerously low through gritted teeth as he takes a step toward me, closing off all distance between us. I can feel his erratic heart beating. He’s infuriated. “Leave Gabriela.” He huffs, frustrated, his chest heaving furiously against that of my own.

I make one final attempt, “It’s not your fault!” I finally shout to get through to him, to get him to listen to reason.

This seems to capture his attention. He knows exactly what I’m referring to. He freezes on the spot. I feel his muscles stiffen against me. His breath hitches as he glances down at me with a cautious look as if not believing what I’d just impulsively uttered.

“What?” He breathes against me, his cold minty breath caressing my face roughly.

“Chase.” I reply, trying to step back so that I could think and talk properly. His hand grasps onto my wrist, stopping me from moving away from him, “It’s not your fault.” I continue, trying to block out his close proximity to me. “I needed someone to blame and I used you. I made you carry a burden that was never yours to carry. You shoudn’t have to feel guilty. It was never your fault. Matt died by accident and his blood isn’t tainted on your hands. I’m so sorry for blaming you, for changing you and for ruining who you were.” I elaborate what I’ve been dying to say to him for the past two years. “I’m so sorry. If I could go back in time and change what I’d said to you that day-“

“Gabby.” He breathes desperately against my lips, cutting me off my rambling spree.

I halt in my words at what he’d just called me. He hasn’t called me that in a long time. He use to refer to me as ‘Gabby’ all the time. He was the only one that called me that, but he stopped when he grew to hate me.

I look up at him through my lashes, shocked to find something swirling in the depths of those blue eyes. He was trying to tell me something through his eyes, yet I can’t decipher it.

He seems to realize his slip up too as an unknown emotion flickers through his eyes for a brief second. “You called me Gabby.” I whisper aloud more to myself than him, stunned to the core. I never knew just how much I missed hearing him say that word, that nickname he’d given to me as kids.

“Gabby.” He repeats purposely this time round to capture my attention, “Stop talking.” He whispers before pushing me against his bedroom wall and caging me in effectively with his arms either side of my head.

Startled by his actions, I look up at him to find him staring at me with that same piercing gaze. This time he’s searching into my soul, not past it. I can feel it. “I know why you hate me. You have every right. I just want you to know that I don’t blame you, not anymore. It wasn’t your fault.” I repeat, needing him to understand completely. I wanted to lift the burden, the one I’d given him, off his shoulders for good.

“It was my fault.” He says aloud after a few minutes of silence.

I shake my head, “No. No it wasn’t. You only think that way because I made you believe it.”

“Gabby…” He trails off again.

Why can’t he just say it?

“Say it Chase.” I whisper as he leans in closer, his blue eyes enticing me in, revealing to me his tragic story. “Just say it.” I beg him, needing to hear it, even if it was just once. Maybe it would make me whole again. Maybe those words would fulfill what I’d been searching for ever since Matt passed.

He’s beginning to open up to me again. I’m so close. Maybe this time I might succeed with him.

I watch him as he closes his eyes and rests his head against my forehead lightly for a second or two whilst he thinks. My heart pounds at his touch and a familiar jolt of electricity runs down my spine like a powerful lightning bolt, waking me up inside completely and suddenly I’m able to feel something other than depression.

All it took was him.

All it ever took was him. His touch is a reminder of how I use to feel about Chase at one stage in my life and how we use to be. But that, that’s all buried deep in the past. No use in digging it up now.

Then another rumble of thunder is to be heard. It in itself must awaken something in Chase as he suddenly pulls away, his warm blue eyes returning to their original state of emptiness.

How is it that I can feel when he’s touching me, but he only feels when thunder strikes across the sky?

It’s not fair.

“Your words mean nothing to me now Gabriela. You can’t take back what you said that day. Your apology is futile. You coming here has an empty purpose. I’ll never be able to move on from what you said. Nothing can make me forget. Even now when you say that it wasn’t my fault, I still believe it was and deep inside I know you still blame me. You’ll never really forgive me because I’ll never really be innocent or worth forgiving.” Chase replies in a dangerous yet deadly tone, his face stone, his expression giving away absolutely nothing. “I remember it all the time in explicit detail, in vivid memory. I always relive it each day. Every night I revisit the memory in my nightmares. It was raining just like tonight-“

“Chase I beg of you, don’t go back there. You’re hurting yourself more than you’re hurting me and I don’t want you to hurt anymore.” I interrupt him, trying to force him to shut his mouth and forget that I ever blamed him. But we both know that I can never undo what I did to Chase. I tore him to pieces, I broke him, shattered him into fragments that can never be put back together. The result, a shell of the person he once was and nothing more. He might as well be dead because he stopped living a long time ago.

Despite my pleas, Chase continues on with a tone void of any emotion making me wonder if he ever felt anything anymore. There would be severe consequences if he stopped feeling completely. Eventually everyday will be turmoil and you’ll begin to wonder if you’ll ever be the same again. Reality becomes your worst fear, your greatest enemy. Hell, I’d know. I’d been there. I am there.

“You looked me dead in the eye, point blank, and then you said it. You said those five words that changed me, that changed everything. I’ll never forget them for as long as I live. And you know why?” He pauses before coming straight out with it like a bullet piercing my soul, “Because there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about what you said. Do you remember what you said, Gabriela? Because I do. I can’t forget. I wish I could forget for just a goddamn second of my life, but those words follow me everywhere I go - constantly taunting me - making me wish I could just be dead already. But even then, the words will follow me to my grave. There’s no escape from the vengeance of your words that you unleashed on me. I’ll never be free again. I’ll always be enslaved to what you said, to what I now believe to be true. “

Tears well up in my eyes. Of course I remembered. I regret saying it every single day of my life. I never meant any of it, not once. “Chase, please.” I beg hoarsely, my voice pained at the cruel memory that I gave life too. I’ve tried to bury such memories.

“You said and I quote, ‘I wish it were you’.” Chase concludes, finishing off what I’d started two years ago. How does he not feel a thing when he’s saying all this while I’m dying inside? “And of course I remember the next six words after that too, but only after you showed me your hands that had been tainted scarlet as you tried to revive him, Matt. You wiped the blood onto my shirt and you said, ‘This blood should have been yours’. To this day I still have that shirt as a reminder of what I did and can never take back. Now it’s my lifeline. It keeps me sane.”

I don’t understand him anymore.

Suddenly, I can’t hold back anymore either. A single traitorous tear rolls slowly, effortlessly, down my cheek as I begin to break under Chase’s penetrating gaze and lifeless expression. “I said I’m sorry.” I say quietly, almost afraid to say anything a decibel louder. I’m responsible for the mess he is today.”I never meant it.” I say weakly, trying to convince him, but he isn’t being level headed. He was always stubborn and still is.

“You did Gabriela!” He suddenly shouts, finally exploding, as if I had tread on desolate grounds. “You meant every word of it! So don’t give me that ‘it’s not your fault’ bullshit because you know as well as I do that it’s all my fault Matt’s not here and I’m still here. You’re not the only one that wishes you could go back! I do too. I would take Matt’s place in a heartbeat and then you wouldn’t have looked at me with so much hate that night. You wouldn’t have ever seen me as a monster, in the way that you see me now. The way you still look at me now. It’s a dead give away that everything you just said to me was a lie. You still blame me. I can see it in your eyes all the damn time and it f**king destroys me. I can’t even say sorry because it will mean nothing. You will never forgive me and even if by some miracle you did, I would never ever forgive myself. All I can say is that I wish I was the one that died, because hell it’d be better than the severe torture and suffering I feel every time you look me in the eye!”

Before I know it, before I can do anything, I’m shoved out his room and the door is slammed shut in my face. Again.

I had my chance and I blew it. There’s no way he’ll ever open up to me like that again. He won’t allow himself to. I tried to lift the burden, but he’s chosen to keep carrying it, refusing to leave it behind where it belongs.

I really have forgiven him, even though he never did anything wrong. It was never his fault that I lost Matt and I believe that now wholeheartedly, but Chase doesn’t.

He thinks I’m the one who won’t forgive him, but he’s so blinded by the past that he can’t see that it is only he who is holding him back from moving on with his life.

He never forgave himself for something he did not do.

That’s the sole problem to it all,

but perhaps also the solution to it all…

I need him to forgive himself and I’m not sure where to begin.

*~*

Please share your thoughts ;) Trying a more serious story here :P

~CJustMe

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