The Crush

By: T.R. Lynch


IT WAS JUST past dawn, and the sky to the east was an array of fantastic colors as sunlight pushed its way into the new morning, turning the sky into wild, vivid colors that illuminated across the water’s surface. It was a sight Brylee Troxell would never tire of, she thought as she stood near the edge of the lapping tide with her hands tucked into the back pockets of her cargo shorts.

Every morning, she promised herself a full sixty minutes of spiritual cleansing. In a life that had become routine, she could always enjoy mornings such as this where the air was crisp, and the wind blew freely. A person could breathe here, she thought and could enjoy the luxury of emptying their mind and simply absorb the solitary for a span of time like she set aside for herself, each and every morning.

And for this moment, Brylee wanted to enjoy the taste, smell, and feel of the air delivered compliments of everything the morning sea had to offer.

Today, even as she absorbed and accepted the peace around her, she felt restless. This was her place. This was where she found peace.

Brylee hesitated briefly, tilting her head when somewhere a dog barked in the misty morning, a faint yap, yap, yap that sounded happy, adding to the ambiance of the morning. Maybe the fury beast leaped through the waves after a piece of driftwood its owner had tossed.

As she stood there, Brylee watched gulls swoop low over the water, slicing the water’s surface, as their lonely cries disturbed the morning as they fed.

Restlessness be damned.

This was exactly what she’d come to expect every single morning, and yet it was here where she found something new and exciting than what she had found on her previous mornings’ journeys.

It was true. Everything stayed the same—almost.

Her mind paused as she took in this exact moment of her life. The vast moving blueness, blending with the blue horizon, the salt-laced air, forever engrained in her mind—filed away for another day. This was where she was born and raised. This was her life. A life she loved. A life that would take Brylee well into her golden years of life.

Few things could match the sheer breathtaking beauty of a Big Crested Harbor morning, with the waves crashing and sea for miles and miles.

Brylee blew out a long breath.

At twenty-four, it was a shame to want to spend this amount of time alone. This might be true if she listened to her mother’s constant harping about the time she chose to wander life alone. But her grandmother, God rest her wonderful soul, always told her she was an old soul—which was a good thing—or so Grandma May had tried to convince her skeptical granddaughter, who spent her childhood getting lost for hours in the wonders that Mother Nature provided. A sanctuary where her young mind could ponder life while building sandcastles, snorkeling, or searching for lost treasures buried somewhere along the coastline she called home.

Yes, life was good, Brylee thought as she felt the breath of the salty breeze, cool and damp against her face. She wished today would be the day she could find some peace of mind. The kind that was supposed to come when a person lived in a small coastal town, walked the beach in the early morning, sand squishing beneath their toes, as they stared out at the vastness of the ocean absorbing the serenity it offered, walking along the edges of the water. She ambled along, taking in a lungful of salt-laced air, reveling in the frothy tide nipping at her toes and ankles, only to ebb away, leaving her to feel restless and unfulfilled.

As she splashed along the shore, Brylee gnawed on the corner of her lip, and then laughed out loud. Her best friend always accused her of being too self-absorbed on meaningless thoughts. Maybe she was right. She’d always been the odd one out, never really meshing with the townies her own age.

Her thoughts read if a moment was nothing more than the tiniest representation of time lasting less than a blink of an eye of a person’s life, then why did it seem endless? Was time really a valuable thing? Did it really help mend all things broken? That perhaps this little moment of time as presented in itself would never be offered again…as it floated back into the past like a vapor of breath in the air.

It was true that time was nothing more than a snap of the fingers—poof—gone—forever a thing of the past, like all of the yesterdays. Just like the saying, ‘time is the measure of all things but is itself immeasurable.’

For many years, these same thoughts propelled through Brylee’s mind like an endless echo of voices competing for attention as they bounced along the darkest recesses of her overactive mind, all the while waiting for the humdrum of her routine, predictable, and boring life to begin.

Her heart clutched, and she squeezed her eyes shut as the images from the past that had kept her awake at night once again taunted and floated through her memories. Like every time before, they worked against her hard-fought promises to herself that she would stop crossing the painful emotional barrier. Yet, the same face, seven years before, when she’d lost her heart to—and had never recovered from—her first crush. The familiar hollow ache returned. It had taken only one look, and she’d been undone, turned inside out.

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