I love the ocean.
It always changes, unlike me.
I live in regrets. I live in my past decisions, most unfavorable to those around me. I cannot move on, unlike the ocean waves that come and go. I am stuck in the past.
“Josh!” I hear my mom say. “Dinner is ready!”
“Coming!” I reply. I shut my window and close the curtains, hiding the view and the salty smell of the ocean. I throw the door open and hurry my way down the stairs. Mom and Dad are already at the table, sitting down. I take my usual seat. “Thanks for the food,” I say with a smile.
“No problem,” Mom says.
I look over at the seat next to me. Of course, it is empty. Why did I even look? It is not like she would ever come home. Not with the circumstances. Not with what happened. A hollow feeling builds up in my chest. I don’t have much of an appetite anymore.
“Joshua,” my dad says with a worried look. “Aren’t you going to eat?”
I must have been spacing out again. Mentally, I slap myself awake and grin at my parents. “Yeah!” I grab my spoon, forcing the soup down my throat. But I can’t taste a thing. It’s as if my senses are somewhere else. Everything feels blank to me because she isn’t here. I feel like I can’t enjoy life and move on. I am missing a part of myself, a part of me that I could’ve protected and cared for, but I didn’t, so now it is gone.
“Josh?” I hear my mom suddenly say.
“Huh?” I say, a bit startled. I look up at her. “What is it?”
“You stopped moving your spoon,” she says. She pauses for a few seconds, taking a deep breath. “Are you thinking about Wendy again?”
I feel a lump in my throat. I can’t seem to move my hand to eat. Wendy. Wendy. Why did Mom have to mention her name? I can’t stand listening to it. It reminds me of what I have done, times that I want to forget, but continue to be clouded in my mind.
“Look Joshua,” Dad says. “I know you are having a hard time, and we are too. But you cannot continue to be like this. Wendy wouldn’t want this-”
I put down my spoon and grab my bowl, interrupting him with the clanking of my dishes. I look at my parents with a smile. “The food was great,” I tell them. “Thank you.” I quickly put away my bowl and run back up the stairs, burying myself in the comforts of my room. Slowly, I walk over to my window and open the curtains. I see the dark ocean again. It calms my mind. Ever since what happened with Wendy, I try not to give my parents a bad attitude. I attempt to hold my anger in. I need to be a “good kid” after all.
My alarm goes off at six in the morning. It is time to get ready for school. I quickly do my morning routine and go out the door with my backpack on my shoulder. I get on my usual bus and spot a familiar face. It is Kevin, my closest friend at school.
“Hey Josh!” he says.
“Hey,” I reply, sitting on the seat beside him.
“Didn’t expect to see you so early.”
I shrug. “I thought that I’d stop my oversleeping habits.”
Kevin laughs. “That would be a good idea. The teacher is always mad at you for being late.”
I nod. We have an awkward silence.
“So how have you been doing?” Kevin asks.
I feel a lump in my throat. I know what he is implying. He is just being worried and considerate of me, but I still have a hard time talking about it.
“Good,” I reply.
We arrive at school and head to our homeroom for attendance. I can hear my loud classmates from the end of the hallway, but once I walk in, every one of them goes silent. Ignoring the stares from others, I go over to my seat.
“He’s here,” I hear someone whisper.
“What do we say?” another person says.
“I don’t know how to act in front of him.”
“That poor guy – losing someone so close to him.”
“I wonder what his parents think.”
As usual, the talk is about me. I put down my bag and take out my headphones, playing my music loudly. For the last year, many of my classmates have been cautious about what they say to me, as if I would break from any small mistake. They pity me. I don’t blame them though. If I were in their position, I would do the same thing.
I feel someone tap me on the shoulder. It is Kevin. “You okay?” he asks.
“I’m fine,” I say with a grin. “Thanks.”
It’s going to be a long day.
School was tiring as usual. I try to be optimistic, so my classmates will stop worrying about me, but it is exhausting. I yawn. Maybe I should take a nap when I get home, maybe watch a few random videos before getting started with my homework. I open the door to my house and see my parents inside preparing dinner. “Hi Mom. Hi Dad,” I say.
“Josh!” my mom says. “Welcome home.”
“You came just in time,” my dad says. “We just finished making dinner.”
I help place the dishes around the table and we sit on our usual chairs. I try to ignore the empty seat beside me and force myself to eat. I shouldn’t worry my parents by refusing to eat all the time.
“Josh, we have some news to tell you,” my mom says.
“News?” I ask. I put down my fork to listen.
“You see, it has been almost a year since Wendy…” my dad stops. Even he has trouble saying what happened. “Anyway, you haven’t been very happy since, so we figured that it was because this house has too many memories of her.”
My eyes widen. What are they getting at? I feel a lump in my throat again. I have a bad feeling about this.
“We want to help you move on, Joshua,” my mom says. “We thought about this for a long time.”
“What are you saying?” I ask. “Just tell me.”
“We are going to move out of the city,” my dad says.
“No!” I instantly shout without thinking. I stand up from my seat.
“Are you just planning to forget about Wendy?” I shout, releasing all my anger that I have built up for ages. “Are you just going to pretend that she never existed? I can’t leave this house. This house is the only thing that has traces of her, Mom, Dad! We can’t just leave it behind!”
My parents try to calm me, a bit stunned because I haven’t yelled for a long time. “Listen, Joshua,” my mom says. “We are doing this for your own good. Dad and I are trying really hard to move on. But you can’t stay stuck in the past like this. You have to accept what happened to her. You have to move on too.”
“I can’t,” I say strongly. “I won’t leave this place. You can leave, but I never will.”
“I’m reluctant too, Joshua,” my dad says. “I am afraid to leave this place too, but I am more afraid that I will never see my only son truly smile or laugh ever again. Please, Joshua, you must understand.”
I open my mouth to answer, but no words come out. I just turn around, race up the stairs and lock myself in my room. I want to cry, but no tears come out. People say that an average person cries about 121 liters in a lifetime. I must have cried all 121 when Wendy passed away. I have no tears left.