Photo Friday 1: 2/17/17

Below is the photo writing prompt from 2/17/17 and my short story. Enjoy!

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“Can’t it be dangerous?” Jennifer asked.

“Only if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Danny said. “Fortunately for you, I’m the smartest man in the world.” He walked up to her and slid his arms around her waist.

Jennifer laughed. “Oh, is that right? The entire world?”

“Well, I’m married to you, aren’t I?” Danny leaned down and kissed her, making her feel weak in the knees.

“You’re not smart for leaving me today,” she said, pressing her forehead against his chest.

“I’m not leaving you; I’ll be gone for one week, that’s all.” He held her out at arm’s length, studying her. “Jennifer, I’m only going scuba diving. It’s nothing crazy.”

She sighed. “I know. I’ll just miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too. Come on, we’ve got to go.”

Jennifer drove Danny in her Jeep to the dock from where his boat was departing. When they pulled up, his friends Victor and Scott were already there.

“Danny’s here!” Victor called as Danny and Jennifer got out of the car. “Let’s do this; I am so ready to get out there.”

Jennifer laughed. “He’s sure excited.”

“He is. I am too; it’s going to be nice to go away with them. Don’t worry, I’ll be thinking of you the whole time.” Danny kissed her on the cheek.

Jennifer stood on the tips of her toes and pulled Danny in for a kiss.

“If you keep kissing me like that, I might not ever leave,” he said.

“Go,” she said, waving him away. “Have fun, and be safe. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Jennifer stood on the dock and watched them board the sleeper yacht they had rented. She and Danny occasionally waved to one another until he was out of sight. After the last of the boat had dipped below the horizon, she remained on the dock, staring out into emptiness.

 

The next two days without Danny went by painfully slow. Jennifer woke up alone, went to work, came home, then went to bed alone. Any time something out of the ordinary happened, she wanted to tell Danny. Then she remembered that she couldn’t; there was no cell service out in the ocean.

One night while she was home reading, there was a knock on the door. Startled, Jennifer checked the clock. It was almost ten o’clock at night – an unusual time for a visitor.

She walked to the door and looked out of the peep hole. Her heart immediately started racing. There were two police officers on her doorstep.

When she opened the door, they were solemn. She felt as if her heart would pound right out of her chest.

“Are you Mrs. Cleary?” one of them asked.

She couldn’t speak – she simply nodded her head.

Both of the officers removed their hats. “Ma’am, we’re sorry to inform you that contact with your husband’s boat has been lost.”

Jennifer felt the blood drain from her face. Her world started spinning and she grabbed onto the doorframe to steady herself.

“It’s not very clear, but there seems to have been some kind of accident.”

“Accident?” was all she could say.

“Yes, ma’am. We’re very sorry. First thing in the morning there will be search teams out there, looking for him.”

“Search teams?” Jennifer could barely comprehend anything anymore; she was feeling more lightheaded and fell to her knees.

Both of the officers reached out to her. “Are you all right, ma’am?”

“Yes, yes,” she said, trying to push them away from her.

“Do you have anyone you can go stay with?”

“No, I live here. With Danny.”

“Yes, it just might be good if you could go be with someone right now so you’re not…” the officer trailed off. Jennifer glared at him, daring him to say it, but he just stood there in silence.

“Alone?” she said, her tone sharp.

“It’s just a suggestion,” the other officer said.

“I’ll be fine.” Jennifer started to stand up. “How will I know what’s happened?”

“We’ll remain in contact with you. Are you sure you’ll be all right?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need anything.”

“Of course, thank you.” Jennifer shut the door behind them as they walked away. She took a step forward and collapsed on the floor, sobbing. She kept calling out for Danny, but there was no answer.

 

Jennifer felt as if she were in a trance. The search and rescue had been called off. They had sent out multiple teams, all with no success. Danny and the rest of the souls on board were presumed dead. She refused to plan a memorial service. Danny was still a part of her, and if she could still feel him within her, how was she supposed to say goodbye to him?

Days went by. She didn’t go work; she didn’t even leave the house. Mostly she just sat in her living room, with the lights off, staring. She was numb. Her eyes were open, but she didn’t see.

One evening, while the afternoon sunlight was trying to slither through the closed curtains, Jennifer heard a knock at the door. Slowly, she stood up and walked to the door. Looking out of the peep hole, she saw the same two police officers who had told her Danny was missing. She felt a familiar rush of panic and her heart started pounding.

When she opened the door, the officers were smiling.

“Mrs. Cleary, we have confirmation that Danny has been found.”

“What?” She felt chills travel through her body.

“Ma’am, your husband is alive and well. A man went out sailing today and found them drifting on a life raft and was able to pull them onboard. He just radioed it in a little while ago.”

“Danny’s alive?” Her voice broke and tears flooded her eyes.

“Yes, he’s very much alive. He and everyone else from the yacht will be arriving on the sailboat at the pier shortly.”

“Thank you, thank you!”

After they left, Jennifer ran upstairs to get changed. When she saw the bed that she and Danny shared, she fell to her knees, sobbing. Slowly, her sobs turned to laughter and she was able to pick herself up.

 

Down at the pier, there were people already lined up, as well as camera crews, all waiting for the sailboat to make its way in. When Jennifer stepped out of her Jeep, there were instantly cameras and microphones shoved in her face, but she barely noticed them.

She couldn’t take her eyes off of the horizon. The sun was dipping low in the sky and reflecting off of the soft waves. Jennifer stood, gripping the rail, her knuckles turning white, waiting for the sailboat.

Time seemed to stand still; Jennifer wondered if everyone else felt the same way.

Then she saw it.

A mast popped up over the horizon and was moving toward them. Jennifer’s breathing quickened.

Slowly the boat made its way closer; Jennifer wished she make it move faster. The sun was setting behind the sailboat and created a silhouette; Jennifer could almost make out the outline of Danny.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as the sailboat docked. Paramedics hopped on the boat to help Danny, Victor, Scott and the yacht captain off. Jennifer pushed her way through the crowd down toward the boat. Danny was leaning on a paramedic, walking up the dock, when he looked up and saw her. Jennifer was frozen in her tracks; she was too afraid that if she went up to him he wouldn’t be real, that all of this would be shattered.

Slowly, Danny walked up to Jennifer, never taking his eyes off of her, and gently stroked her cheek.

“Danny…”

Before she could finish her sentence, Danny scooped her up and kissed her, leaving her breathless.

“I love you, Jennifer,” he whispered, holding her close to him.

At that moment, Jennifer knew: the part of her that had been missing was finally back.