This story is by Debra Campoli and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Mandy needed some alone time. Her dad had died suddenly 2 weeks ago and now at 22, she was parentless. She didn’t want to talk to anyone, so decided to go to Island Beach for the day. Avoiding the usual beaches, she headed to a more secluded area. Mandy was disgusted with the world because her whole life kept changing for the worst. She even lost her job due to down-sizing. Mandy only now realized just how abandoned she was.
While strolling along the shore-line, she picked up a piece of leaf-green colored sea glass. It probably was from a broken beer bottle that someone never recycled. After about a half hour, she decided to walk back to where her blanket was. Her mind reeled with a million thoughts of how she lost her mom from cancer when she was in high school. Now, her dear father passed with an unexpected heart attack. How unfair life felt for her. She virtually had nobody now. A month ago, Mandy even had to dump her old boyfriend. He was such a loser with his constant beer drinking and cheating.
Mandy was walking back up to her blanket when she stepped on something. It wasn’t sharp, but it was covered with sand and it needed to be looked at! She found a thin strap sticking out of the sand that was thin like a ribbon, yet strong as it stretched. Pulling it up revealed some strange-looking goggle type gear. It probably was some diving equipment that washed up with the surf. She walked back to the water to rinse off the sand and discovered that there was a small light on the top of one of the eye pieces. It actually blinked when she was examining it.
Mandy kept thinking how different this contraption was with this little light blinking once every few minutes. It wasn’t a toy because it seemed a little too high tech. She looked all around to see if maybe somebody dropped it and she hadn’t noticed. But, no one was around and the only sounds came from the waves that were rolling in. So, the next step for her was to try it on!
As she put the goggles on, she heard a slight whirring noise. It was near the dune that she had walked over before. The sand was swirling and swirling like what you could imagine in some nightmare where you were going to get sucked into it! Then, to her utmost surprise, a “being” came straight up and stood on the sand.
He seemed to be scrutinizing her as she stood like a statue staring back. Mandy’s mind was freaking out thinking that she must be dreaming. She HAD to be dreaming. She slowly raised her arm to wave at this humanoid type figure, who seemed to be a man but with no hair on his milky light complexion. He also was wearing the same kind of goggles. To her surprise, he took a step forward and waved back. They both just stared for a few more minutes, which felt like hours. Then the figure took another few steps forward and stopped. Mandy didn’t feel scared but intrigued, so she also took another few steps toward him.
The closer he got to her, his features appeared more human-like, with two eyes, a nose, and mouth. His eyes were black looking which seemed scarier the closer they got to each other. But when they were about 4 feet apart, Mandy extended her hand. She smiled politely even though she was ready to pass out! He touched her hand gently and without moving his mouth, she heard his voice in her mind!
“I am Esa. What is your given name? I feel your fear, but do not be afraid. We have lived amongst your kind for hundreds of years. I am not here to harm you.”
“I’m Mandy. I am so confused right now because I think I am dreaming.” Her knees began to wobble and her heart pounded in her chest ready to explode. Tears ran down her cheeks uncontrollably and her nerves just dropped her to her knees in the sand.
Esa stepped closer and put his hand on her head for comfort and it did provide comfort because he felt her body relax more and her crying turned into small whimpers. “Mandy, do not be afraid. If you are still so fearful, you may remove the goggles and you will no longer be able to see or feel me.”
After that comment, Mandy looked up and said, “I am sorry Esa. I am just so confused by all of this. I have been through a difficult time and I just don’t understand how this is happening or if this is real?”
Esa now sat on the sand next to Mandy and explained. “My species is from another galaxy which landed here long ago. We live mostly under beaches. We have our own tunnels which connect to our habitats where we have family units much as humans do. We have stayed to ourselves as we are content with our own happiness and lives and do not wish for any contempt whatsoever. The sunlight from Earth affects our eyes so that is partly why we need the goggles to come above. The goggles you are wearing were lost months ago during a storm that one of my friends tried escaping from. He unfortunately lost his life here, above ground during high winds and rough seas. I tried looking for his goggles but to no avail. We were only able to bring his form to his final resting place among us.”
“Esa, this is so very unbelievable. I can feel your compassion and truly have the feeling that you are not going to hurt me. But, how can this be? How can you be living on Earth without anybody aware? Do you have flying saucers to fly back to your planet or out in space? How could nobody know about this? Do you have male & female in your kind? Do you have animals? Do you have families? I just don’t get it!”
The reply was again heard only in her mind, “Yes, our units are very much like what you are used to as far as male and female. We are a monogamous ‘people’ where we find our ‘ONLY’ and it is forever. We love and procreate in much the same way as humans except when we do find our ‘Mate’ we are together for all time until one of us passes. Then, the other spouse passes within hours because our commitment syncs us together as only one being. We can have 2 children, one of each gender with 3 years between them.”
Esa asked Mandy if she wanted to come into his habitat. She hesitated for about one minute and said, “Esa, I really would love to! I have nobody waiting for me and at this time of my life, an adventure like this may be just what I need!
Taking her hand, they both stood up and Esa led them to the spiraling hole, while that humming sound started up again. Mandy was nervous but held on to Esa and WHOOP…into the whirl they went! She couldn’t believe her eyes! She was in a hallway filled with tiny LED looking lights illuminating the walls. Esa told her that they could remove their goggles as he was removing his own. Mandy took her goggles off and was surprised that everything felt kind of normal. NORMAL? She was with an alien who communicated without words and was walking underground. Actually, under the beach that she loved to go to since she was 2 years old!
They walked into a large round room where there were a few other aliens. They all looked exactly the same! Plus, as she looked around, she realized that there wasn’t any noise. No voices, just nods and hand movements and even saw a few cuddling bodies. Esa noticed her staring and humorously put his arm around Mandy as a few beings were staring back at them! He looked at them, and in her mind, she heard as Esa told the others that she was a human friend and to not worry about anything. She was no threat. A very kind individual who was suffering from intense sadness and needed some empathy for the pain she carried.
Mandy just looked at her new acquaintance and smiled, feeling so cared for. It was a feeling that she hadn’t felt in a long time. Yes, her dad was her dad but, he was supposed to care about her. Her high school friends had all gone away to college or moved away and they barely kept in touch anymore. She realized how pitiful it was that a mere touch from a caring individual…or dare I say ALIEN…made her feel special. It surely was a long time since she felt she was worth something.
Meanwhile, Mandy wondered, that since they all looked exactly alike, how did they tell each other apart? How could they know who their significant other was? The whole premise was mind-boggling to say the least!
As they walked through the big room and down another corridor, they came to a room full of alien children playing and rolling on the ground. They were jumping over each other and playing tag but still there were no sounds of laughter or screams, just nothing! Mandy looked at Esa and asked him if he had a spouse or children? He shook his head and said that he just never came across his mate yet but it would happen soon because he was reaching almost the last years of his finding her.
Mandy turned and looked at Esa, “What do you mean your last years? How do you find her? What happens if you can’t?”
“Oh, it’s okay. Our kind connects one day to another and a special chemical releases and emits the enzyme in our brains that brings us together. Sometimes, if we don’t find each other in our designated time, we just go into our Fade which is equivalent to your Heaven. Then another young grows up and the process continues. It is our way and we are all happy with our life.”
Esa realized the time and told Mandy that she should now return to the beach and needed to give the goggles back to him. She asked if she could keep them.
He explained, “Mandy, these goggles are the reason you were able to see our opening in the sand and to see us. I also cannot see you above without them. You must always be happy with your life, for it is short. Be thankful for your planet and for all who live there. You will NOT remember any of this day once the goggles are back and you ascend to the beach.”
Mandy gave Esa the goggles and was suddenly on the beach looking at the setting sun. She packed up her blanket and igloo and noticed how chilly it was now, since it was almost dinner hour. She turned toward the sand dune she walked over this morning, thinking, “What a great day! I feel exhilarated – like I can accomplish anything! The beach was just the thing to make me feel better about my life!”