“This is why I came here,” Magda said, looking out at the water, breathing in the smells of the sea.
“You needed a vacation,” Terry said, nodding.
“I needed to get away from everything, that’s true enough, but that could be anywhere, right?” She pointed her chin toward the water. “I needed this. More than I knew.”
Terry nodded, but felt unsure. They’d split up after dinner the night before, and not seen each other until an hour earlier, just after breakfast. Something about Magda seemed different.
“What’d you do last night, where’d you go with those women?”
Magda closed her eyes and said nothing. Yes, Terry would have noticed that she had changed in some way. The safety and simplicity of her thinking would only allow her to imagine a visit to some club, dancing with a sexy stranger, maybe letting him bring her home.
Not that such things were out of the question, but neither dancing nor sex could leave her as full of light and air and magic as she felt.
“I went to the beach, Terry. Nothing racy or exotic.”
“Well, I never said anything about — You went to the beach? At night?”
“Is that so unbelievable?”
“With strangers you went? What if they had lured you there to rob you? Or worse?”
“I’m fine, Terry.” She stood and did a turn then sat. “See? All my parts and everything.”
“There’s no need to mock me. I know you’re fine. That isn’t the point, and you know it. You couldn’t have known last night that you would be fine. That was a crazy chance to take.”
“Maybe. But how much do we miss if we never take crazy chances?”
Terry sighed, refusing to come out of her sulk. “And that’s all you did, go to the beach?”
“What does it matter?”
“So you did do something else. Are you ashamed about it today? Afraid they’re going to come looking for you again tonight?”
“Good lord, Terry. I can’t even pretend to know what nonsense is in your head right now. I went to the beach. I got in the water. I came out of the water. I let those women — strangers — bring me home. I thanked them. End of what is not in any way an exciting story.”
“So why do you seem different?”
“Different how?” Magda tried to sound uninterested.
“I don’t know. Like something happened to you, like you met someone.” Terry stood and picked up her bag. “Never mind. I’m going for a massage. It’s our last day here, and I don’t want to miss out on that spa.”
Magda smiled at Terry’s pointed lack of an invitation, thinking it was just as well. She’d only have waved her off. Good thing it was the end of their girls’ getaway. She’d grown increasingly tired of Terry during the five days they’d been at the resort. Even if she hadn’t met Amparo and Cinthia at dinner last night, she’d have found a reason to part from Terry, have a night on her own.
But she had met them. Everything she’d told Terry wad true, but it was only the thinnest membrane of the truth.
Cinthia had smiled after Terry left, extended her hands to Magda. “We are going to the sea,” she said. “Come with us. This is a good night for making a connection.”
They had driven to a stretch of beach a mile or so from the resort. Holding hands so as not to lose one another on the dark path, they picked their way through the trees to the sand. Magda stopped short, breathless at the moon-bright scene.
“Yes,” Amparo said. “Much more dramatic than in full sun.”
The sea, more alive and unknowable than in daylight, rushed at them then called them to follow her back.
Cinthia and Amparo began to undress. Magda, suddenly tentative, stepped out of her sandals. “What do we do?” she asked.
“Call to whoever you will. For me, my mother and her mother. Amparo?”
Cinthia nodded. “The sea is … I don’t know how to say it. She is the way you will connect. From here we call. Then we walk out as far as we can and let go.”
“Let go of each other?”
“We will already be alone. We let go of fear, of fighting the waves to stand. Let go.”
Cinthia shrugged. “The sea will take you.”
“But what –”
“That’s your fear,” Amparo said. There is no “but what.” The sea will take you. If you fight her, she will hurt you, maybe kill you.” She shrugged and looked out at the water. “Let her take you, let her bring you to the ones you love, let them carry you back to the shore.”
A connection, Magda thought. With gods, with ghosts. She looked out at the calm, daytime sea, considered following Terry and getting her own massage. After the beating she’d taken in the water, she could use some gentle touching. But she resisted. Her conversation hadn’t ended yet, she wasn’t ready to break the connection.