General Fiction posted March 16, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sometimes being loners is all you need have in common...

Endings and Beginnings

by Y. M. Roger

Two women sit at a deserted bar Contest Winner 

The ocean breezes were just as playful as they had been the first night of her vacation, and the beach was just as un-crowded. Victoria smiled – she would, without doubt, be returning next year at this same time. In fact, she had decided to call it her very own hidden oasis.
It was a small island resort and the accommodations were minimal, but they had suited her just fine. She had not wanted much: a beach to walk on, the ocean to swim in, some electricity, and food and drink that she didn’t have to prepare herself. Her only other requirement was privacy and a fresh-water shower. And, truth be known, she would have taken a fresh waterfall if it had been private. Victoria had not even required air conditioning. She dealt with enough details and comforts for everyone else in the non-stop world of high finance and restaurants. Simply put, she enjoyed being alone and wanted to relax...alone.
The sun was getting lower on this final evening as she strolled along the beach on approach to the beachside bar. Searching the length of the area, she only saw two people: the bartender, Miguel, and a tall blonde woman with sun-streaked waist-long hair that she had not seen before now. The new guest must have arrived last night as Victoria had not heard the water transport arrive while she was reading or taking her morning walk.
After nearly a full week of limited human interactions, she felt a bit of anticipation stir as a genuine smile lit her face. Miguel waved to her. She could tell he had begun making her frozen pina colada before she even reached the barstool.
The blonde sat on the end of the bar facing the ocean. When she turned to glance in Victoria’s direction, the intense beauty of her features almost brought Victoria up short. But it also did something else; it quelled that small bit of excitement Victoria had felt about striking up a conversation. Slowing her pace only in the slightest, she looked out over the ocean.
Victoria may be a dominating presence in the board room, but she was not what most would call a ‘looker’.  Not that it bothered her, because truthfully? It did not. It did not take looks to command the respect Victoria Rothschild did. But women who looked the way this gorgeous blonde did? Victoria was pretty sure that her own lack of designer suit and heels would leave not much else in the way of offering for companionship much less simple conversation.
C’est la vie, she thought as she felt the solid foundation of the bar area under her bare feet. She could still be friendly.
But, upon reaching for her barstool, she looked once again at that stunning face. Victoria could not help but return the radiant smile that lit the depths of the perfect features there.
Victoria seated herself, leaving one seat between them, although her eyes never left the other woman’s. It was Miguel that broke their silent stare – the kind that strong women have between them as one sizes up the other. No animosity, mind you, just a ‘getting one’s bearings’ and such.
“Ola, Miss Vickie.” She could tell the friendly bartender with his broken English was working hard on the ‘going for casual’ when there was a definite tension in the air. He set her favorite pineapple-accented drink in front of her and patted her hand and motioned toward blondie. “I would introduce to you this ocean friend of mine, Miss Callie.” Miguel then proceeded to set the exact same kind of drink in front of the gorgeous woman, patting her hand as well as he indicated Victoria. “Miss Callie? Meet my newest island friend, Miss Vickie.”
Callie raised a questioning eyebrow at Miguel’s reference to her, but the unruffled bartender just laughed and turned away. She then leaned over toward Victoria, her height evidenced in the ease of the reach across the empty chair. 
“I do hope we get to meet the sky friend next, don’t you?” Callie’s humorous whisper was the perfect icebreaker.
And just like that, all the tension was swept away with the ocean breezes.
They both laughed and took a long sip of their drinks as Miguel, his back to them as he busied himself further down the bar, muttered to himself. Vickie’s eyes followed him at first, and she thought he said something like ‘hoy no’ or some such, but she couldn’t be sure. Besides, it didn’t really matter.
She turned her attention back to Callie. The woman truly was beauty incarnate. Her eyes were the color of sapphires and sparkled just like those fiery jewels. There wasn’t a flaw on her face that Victoria could find. Her bare arms seemed perfectly formed, and Victoria reckoned she must work out every day as a matter of course. Victoria averted her gaze to take another long pull on her colada, closing her eyes to savor the rich flavor.
“Miguel says you are leaving tomorrow?”
Callie’s melodic voice at normal volume startled Victoria out of her drink-sensory enjoyment. She tried to disguise it, but Callie made to apologize. Victoria smiled, attempting to capture the ice cream droplets on her lip and chin.
“Don’t.” She managed to locate the napkin holder and giggled at her own clumsiness. “Don’t you dare apologize because I’m the goofy island friend who can drink from a straw!”
They both laughed, at ease with each other, as Callie leaned in to take a drink, giving Victoria an opportunity to answer her question.
“Yes, tomorrow, in the morning. I have a flight out of Punta Cana at lunch time. You’re just getting here, yes?”
Callie nodded rapidly, signaling that she would answer, but still had a mouthful of drink. Victoria took the opportunity to turn her barstool toward Callie, gesturing in a non-verbal manner to question if such an action were agreeable with the blonde.
Callie turned her stool toward Victoria in like fashion, the picturesque build of the tall woman all the more evident in their now face-to-face positions. Around Callie’s neck and obscuring all but small glimpses of the sheer tank-top she wore, was an ornate seashell necklace that immediately drew Victoria’s eye. Callie gently fingered the unusual and, in many cases, unidentifiable shells included in the handiwork there.
“Oh, I visit periodically.” Callie smiled as she reached for a piece of fresh fruit that adorned her drink. She popped it in her mouth and smiled at the flavor. She indicated the bartender with an angling of her head. “Miguel here keeps me up to date on all the local and global gossip and politics.” Victoria was pretty sure she could sit and listen to Callie’s voice forever – it had a distinct melody that played along with the rhythmic waves lapping the beach just a few feet from them. “He’s like an entire newsstand with all of the information he’s up to speed on.” Another piece of fruit, this time a piece of pineapple that needed a little work before it could be savored. “All in all, though, I’m more of a loner.”
With Callie’s voice washing over her, Victoria drank and let her eyes take in the rest of the mesmerizing woman. She had to be half or more legs – beautiful, perfectly-formed legs. Oh, yeah, she definitely worked out. A lot.
But Victoria found herself quickly glancing back at Callie’s face with her final statement. She frowned as she tried to swallow quickly and responded.
“What do you mean, a loner, Callie?” There was no animus or jealousy in Victoria’s voice, only disbelief. “My goodness, look at you! Friends must be a dime a dozennn….”
Victoria’s voice trailed off as she remembered her own initial reaction when her and Callie’s eyes had first met on her approach to the bar. And looking at the hurt on Callie’s face, Victoria took action immediately. As Callie’s feet met the sandy floor to walk away, Victoria grabbed her arm.
“Wait! I’m an idiot, Callie.” A warmth climbed up Victoria’s arm at their point of contact, but she ignored it. “A complete and total idiot. Please ignore my dumbass mouth.”
Callie stopped and narrowed her eyes at Victoria, but she didn’t make to pull away. Victoria took that as a positive sign and continued.
“Look, you say you’re a loner. Well–”she made sure to look to the tall blonde right in those sapphire eyes “I’ve got you beat. My middle name is ‘loner’, Callie.”
They stared at each other and Callie’s brow began to furrow. It was a slow process, almost as if she were trying to figure something out.
“Vickie Loner?”
Victoria huffed out a small, exasperated laugh and released Callie’s arm.
“Okay,” she said, rolling her eyes, “so, it’s actually ‘Lynn’ but I’m pretty damn sure mom and dad meant for it to be ‘loner’. You see, unless it’s a business activity for profit action or positioning for negotiations, I really suck at socializing.”
The two women stood, staring at each other once again. Callie’s brow beginning to unfurrow just in the slightest as Victoria tried to make herself relax.
They were physically startled out of their silent battle of wills by Miguel’s loud placement of two more pina coladas on the bar beside them.

“Maravilloso!” Miguel's cheerful Spanish exclamation made them both smile. He took their half-empty drinks away and added extra fruit to the new ones. “Now you both loners no mas!” He indicated two barstools next to each other. “Sit! Enjoy being loners together!”
Both women laughed. As they turned to take their chairs, Victoria opened her mouth to apologize, but Callie waved a hand at her.
“Don’t.” She smiled at Victoria as they both plunked themselves back onto their barstools. “Don’t you dare apologize because I’m the goofy ocean friend who over-reacts to hu – uh, people!”
As they reached for their drinks, Miguel patted each of their hands again, perhaps squeezing Callie’s with just a bit of reassurance before turning away once again.
Sunset became sundown and, soon, only the distant ocean radiance and thousands of stars lit the night. And still, the new friends sat and talked. They had moved from the bar when Miguel had closed up for the night and had been sitting on the beach for hours, still talking about anything and everything and just a few more other things, too.
Victoria yawned.
“You need to get packed and get some sleep, Vickie.”
Callie’s gaze was just as intense now as it had been that first time, but Victoria no longer demurred. The friendship Miguel had encouraged had well and truly taken hold.
“Yeah, I guess.” She smiled at Callie. “You probably need to get to bed, too.”
Callie tried to stand, but seemed to struggle. Victoria immediately leapt to her feet to lend her a hand – the task was much more arduous than she would have imagined.
“Callie, is everything okay?”
As she finally stood on shaky legs, Callie laughed and reached over to enclose Victoria in a huge body hug. They held each other for a really long time. Callie enjoyed the cotton and polyester scent of Vickie just as Vickie reserved a special place of memory for the salty almost fishy scent of Callie.
They pulled away just far enough to look into each other’s eyes as they spoke simultaneously.
“You’ll be back next year at this time?”  “I’ll be back next year, same time.”
And, again.
“Good, I will be waiting right here.”  “I’ll meet you right here, yeah?”
They both laughed, the laughter trailing off into a comfortable silence.
“Pina Coladas?” Victoria asked just a bit misty-eyed. No one had ever actually understood all of her quirks and hang-ups like Callie seemed to.
“With all of Miguel’s extra fruit!”
They again laughed out loud until Callie became a bit more serious.
“Walk me to the water, my friend.”
It was Victoria’s turn to frown.
“There’s a shower in your little hut, Cal–”
But Callie continued limping toward the surf lapping just beyond them.
“Please, Vickie. Help me walk to the water.” She leaned heavily on the smaller woman. “You know, you never told me your real name.”
Victoria walked with her, supporting her best she could as she spoke.
“Victoria. Victoria Rothschild.” She concentrated on not stumbling under Callie’s weight as the larger woman seemed to struggle more and more with each forward step. “But my friends call me Ms. Rothschild.” She snorted at her own self-deprecating humor as they continued their awkward pace into the surf. “You know, I’m not sure a midnight swim is the best idea.” Callie’s weight on her lessened the further out into the water they got. “But, hey, if your sur–”
When the water reached about waist-high, Callie fell away completely, and Victoria stood there alone. But before she panicked about dropping her friend in the dark, a large something brushed past her leg and she screamed and jumped away. That’s when Callie appeared in front of her, bobbing in the water – her blonde hair fanning out in a golden glow over the surface as the water lapped at her ornate necklace. A luminous aura surrounded her entire submerged body that, instead of legs, was completed with a huge fish-like tail.
Callie just smiled as her friend’s realization dawned. Victoria’s hands flew first to her mouth, her eyes wide as saucers.
“Callie! You’re a–”
She stopped as her eyes trailed the entire length of Callie’s beautiful tail glowing just beneath the surface.
“How in the wor–”
But Callie interrupted her exclamations.
“And my real name, Vickie, is Calypso,” she said, only this time, those melodies that were but slight before were gloriously harmonious with the tunes to which her words played, “but my friends call me Callie.”
They laughed together one last time.
“Next year,” Callie reminded before she turned away and dove into a wave. She did wave goodbye, though …. as a dolphin would do: with her tail.  
Victoria stood, waving out across the ocean toward the horizon until she could no longer catch sight of Callie’s tail breaking the surface in the distance.
As she turned inland, Victoria took a deep breath and slowly let it out. She had truly found her hidden oasis – an oasis of friendship.


Writing Prompt
Write a story using the premise two woman sit at an otherwise deserted bar. They share a secret. They strike up a friendship.

Two women sit at a deserted bar
Contest Winner

Thank you so very much for reading me - hope you found a smile at the beach bar this evening! ;)

For those of you interested, the story doesn't end there:
Every year, Victoria returned. And every year the friends spent the entire ten days together.

One year, long after Vickie had retired, her body had trouble even making the plane trip much less walk along the beach. Calypso appealed her father, Poseidon, to grant them passage to his Kingdom together.

To this day, you can find the two loners, Vickie and Callie, enjoying each other's company amidst the ocean waves.

Oh, and they always find time to have a pina colada at Miguel's beach bar!

Image of 'Pina Coladas, Beach' from Google Images.
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