The following story and accompanying photograph were mailed to me by a pen-pal, who got them from her pen-pal, who got them from god-knows-where. The text is entirely sic. The author remains anonymous.


I sit on the beach and stare across the vast expance of the ocean. I feel completely alone and isolated. Even though, I'm not alone on the beach.

A storm is making it's way across the sky and is reflected in the grey of my eyes. Eyes that at this moment are the exact color of the storm clouds above.

One tear trickled slowly down my cheek. I watched as it splashed gently on my hand. One tear, yet it held so much. With the sheding of that tear, were all the hopes and dreams that had once filled me with joy. Now, in my dispare, I felt only sadness and confusion. I had escaped to the beach because I felt it was the only place I was free enough to let go. At home and with my friends I felt I always had to be happy. Rarely if ever, did anyone know the pain and confusion that consumed my being. I had become so good at convincing. People were sure I was always outgoing and cheerful. For the most part, even my friends from grade school had forgotten how shy I used to be. Sometime in Junior High, I metamorphised from an unsure, shy little girl, into a confidant, outgoing beauty. I learned the art of flirting, and realized that the boys found me irresistable. In Junior High I made a lot of new friends, and fit in with most groups. Then came High School. A whole new world. I became well known amongst not only my age group, but the upper classmen as well. They enjoyed my humor and confidant manner. I blossomed under the attention. Then the doubts started. Did the boys like me for myself, or because my looks fit some fantasy image they had of what a girl should look like.

I met a Senior and was immediately attracted to him. His quick smile always made my heart beat just a little faster. He was popular also and very handsome. We talked some, but as the year wore on, I realized he still saw me as a child. With my confidance shot, I fell into the arms of the first boy who seemed sincere. In the beginning we had a sweet little romance. He was loving, kind and sweet. Then, I made the cheerleading squad and things changed. He became demanding, obsessed and often cruel. I finnally made my break after a long intense summer.

I enjoyed cheering. The guys especially made it fun. I looked good in my uniform and knew it. With the new year and free from my demanding boyfriend, I became even more fun loving. Always with a ready smile. I soon became a favorite amongst my peers.

One night at a football game, I ran into two entirely oppiset guys. First I met "the rebel". A little on the drunk, rowdy side and more than a little dangerous. As it was a cold night, he lent me his jacket. I was attracted, but never expected much from him. Then I noticed the guy I had been attracted to the year before when he was a senior and I just a freshman. He noticed me also and seemed very happy to see me. We started talking and spent the rest of the game together. I was estatic. I'd told him to call, and judging from his enthusiasm, I was sure he would.

The next day the "rebel" called. We spent the day together and had fun. I didn't hear from the other boy so figured I'd imagined his interest. I guessed he still thought I was too young. Later that night when he got off work, he called. He seemed very surprised when I told him I was seeing the "rebel". He had known him for a while, and knew of his reputation as a womanizing "bad boy". He warned me not to get too involved. I was deaf to his warnings. I only saw the sweet, loving side of my "rebel" and thought he was just upset because I hadn't listened to his pleas. I was so confused. I wondered if he was only interested because I was "taken", so therefore, wouldn't have to worry about becoming too involved. Surely he could have found the time to call me earlier. Doubts, once again haunted me. Even though my relationship with the "rebel" seemed to be going well and he had told me he loved me, I felt something was missing. He seemed to have this need to party all the time, leaving me alone while he went off with his friends. Not wanting to seem over possesive, I tried not to mention it too much. On the other hand, my friendship with the other boy blossomed. We took to calling eachother nightly and as my boyfriend wasn't around much, we spent more and more time together.

Eventually I realized that my feelings for my "friend", had changed. This scared me as I knew it was wrong. Still he crowded into my thoughts. I told him to give me time. I was confused about my feelings. Just when I was sure it was over between me and my boyfriend, he assured me he loved and needed. He told me I was the only one he could open up to. I was so afraid of what would happen to him if I walked away. Plus I feared for my friends life. My boyfriend told me he would kill anyone if he found out I was interested in him. I broke off seeing or talking to my friend. Even though in my heart, I longed to hear his voice and be once again comforted by him. He had been my confidant. He seemed to understand and care about me. Now when left alone night after night, I had no where to turn. Then, just as I'd given up so much, including my innocence, my boyfriend decided that although he loved me, he wanted his freedom. He was affraid of the commitment he told me. My world crumbled. We had a confrentation after one of the games. I left with his cousin, feeling like my world had tumbled down around me. As usual though, I couldn't or wouldn't let the world see me cry. In the car was a boy with alcohol and arms ready and willing to comfort my aching heart. The alcohol helped ease the pain.

I wanted desperately to call my friend. I was so afraid though that he would think he was being used or only filling the void left by my former boyfriend. Plus there was still the fear that he hadn't really wanted me either. Well meaning friends, began to tell me that he had only wanted what his former friend had got. Uncertainty began to flood my being. I was so unsure of myself. I was filled with self doubt and confusion yet again. My friends were amazed at how well I took the break up. They figured I probably hadn't loved my rebel as much as I thought or else I'd surely be suffering more. Finally in desperation to be understood, I again called the one person who always seemed to listen to me even if he didn't agree with me. I told him of the break up and he offered to come over.

When I saw him, my heart raced. So many feelings came flooding back. I was so scared. So vulnerable. And so unsure of myself. He took me in his arms. I felt loved and wanted. I was where I had desperately wanted to be from the first time I laid eyes on him a year earlier. Things began to heat up and logic told me we should stop. Never one to reason, I insted followed my heart. Underneath my confidant exterior was a scared little girl. One filled with feelings I wasn't sure quite how to deal with. A little girl, in a womans body, desperately looking for love. Love for myself, and not just my body, name or popularity. On the outside, I was laughing. Appearing to be enjoying myself immensly. Inside, I was frightened. So afraid that after this night, I would never see him again. I weakly told him no. If he heard me, he showed me no indication. He felt so good in my arms. His body next to mine. Finally, I felt complete. My heart told me I had made the right choice at last. I was finally content. And then, he didn't call the next day. Again my heart was broken. I tried calling his house. He told me not to call him at home. Self doubt filled me. If he doesn't want his family to know about me, I must not be good enough. I gave up hope. Unhappily, I drifted back to the arms of my ex-boyfriend. Convinced I deserved no better. Besides, he told me he loved me, and as I was so naive, I believed him. Hurt and feeling let down, I confessed to my boyfriend that I have been seeing my friend. Not telling him the extent of my feelings or our involvement.

When next I talk to my comforter, he is angry. He tells me he feels I just used him to get back at my boyfriend. Hurt by his attitude, I tell myself he never really cared. I feel used. I begin to think that no one will ever want anything from me but my body. My ex-boyfriend still didn't want to commit and only finds time for me occasionally. His life is one party after another. I spend time with friends, laugh, and party. And inside, I am filled with turmoil. I tell myself that the relationship isn't wrong. My ex-boyfriend's moods change daily. Weeks go by without my seeing him. Still, he threatens any other contact I might have with another guy.

Eventually I realize my life can't possibly continue as it is. No matter how much I love someone it doesn't give him the right to treat me badly. I write my ex-boyfriend a letter, cutting any ties that still bind us. Being ever macho, he laughs it off. Never even realizing how much he has hurt me. I want so badly to call the one who so often in the past picked up the pieces of my broken heart. But I am afraid. So afraid. Still, I gather my pride and call. Every doubt leaves me when I hear his voice. Feelings come back so strong. My breath comes in short gasps. I tell him I need to see him. He comes, never questioning my motives, or my need to see him. Always there when I need him most. Worry shows in his eyes, as he inquires if I am allright. I wonder if he is able to see in my eyes, all the love I have been trying so hard to deny. I need to be with him. Let him know that I know now that I abused a friendship because I was afraid of my feelings for him. I was so unused to being treated decently that the fact he might actually care for me scared me. Because of this, I destroyed any chance of happiness we could have had together. But instead, I remain quiet. He tells me he's been seeing someone. I feel defeated. Yet, also know that if it hadn't been for my indicision, things might have been very different.

While we talk, my heart beats wildly. I so want to cry out to him the love I feel, but instead I just laugh and joke, hoping he will see through my mask to how I really feel. Afraid as always to let him see how frightened I really am. Afraid that too much time has come between us. Afraid of the person he is seeing now. That perhaps he has found someone else to love. Someone who isn't a confused and lost soul as I am. Someone not afraid to show her true feelings.

And so ... I sit, and stare.

Hoping to find solace in the crashing waves. Waves that crash, with the same force as my beating heart.

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