Low Tide


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Scene Title Low Tide
Synopsis Miles apart, two heartbroken souls are linked by memories and regret.
Date December 28, 2010

New York and Cape Cod

Three days after Christmas.

Four days since Wes Smedley kissed Peyton Whitney goodbye before going to run a few errands before the holiday.

If he'd know what was going to happen in the span of those few hours-

It's those lines of thought that keep trying to snake their way into Wes's consciousness. Those are the poisonous what-ifs that Wes has been keeping at bay with his own brand of self-medication.

At least it keeps him relatively warm as he stands on the deck of What Jenny Thought, looking out across the Hudson at the skyline.

* * *

Cape Cod is cold and desolate in the winter; many of its residents "winter" elsewhere. The icy wind coming off the water blows Peyton's dark hair around her face as she walks the empty beach, wrapped in coat and scarf and hat to keep herself warm.

Von doesn't mind the cold, and chases sea gulls merrily along the water's edge, daring even to get his paws wet by the surf before deciding the water's too cold even for him.

A cell phone in Peyton's pocket has gone ignored — turned off, in fact; while she promised she'd return in case of an emergency, she hasn't checked her messages.

Things could be worse. She'd finally met her brother, spent time with her mother — family is what Christmas is about, after all.

Or that's what she's telling herself.

* * *

Carson rests inside the wheelhouse, guarded from the wind by the rickety walls, while Wes lets the relatively gentle breeze buffet against him. His bare fingers flex around the bottle in his hands, making the brown paper that shrouds the glass crinkle.

There are a few messages on Peyton's phone from him, mostly slurred apologies scattered among pleas for her to come back. Then again, that would mean he would have to go back too. Being in the space she decorated for the season, surrounded by the small touches that made it more than just where he dealt with human necessities was too much. So despite the cold weather, Jenny has become his temporary home, with small excursions to truck stops on the fringes of the metropolis where he can shower and eat something that didn't come out of a box.

Eventually, he tells himself, he'll have to go back, if only to retrieve his own belongings and transport them elsewhere. There's a real chance that Peyton has disappeared for good, and it isn't as if he could blame her. Then again, whether the truth about his past came from his own lips or a website, he can't imagine her reacting in any other way.

But there's an old saying about letting go of what you love.

* * *

Peyton moves to sit on a rock and let Von frolic — here he can run and scamper without a leash, though she can't help but wonder how lonely he is, without Carson by his side. Her arms wrap around her knees, and she stares out at the gray-blue ocean, the gray-blue sky above melting into it at the horizon so she can't be sure what is sky and what is sea anymore.

The color reminds her of Wes' eyes, which brings a familiar sting to her own dark set as they stare out at the waves, a prick of tears she can't blame solely on the chilly wind that makes everything taste like her tears have tasted on her lips so many nights in a row.

It took her almost 22 years to say she loved a man, and only a few moments to unravel everything built up in the last few months.

Von comes bounding back toward her, puppyish leaps and bounces that make her smile. "Time to go?" she says, sliding off the rock and into the sand to begin the walk back to Faye's home.

* * *

Not having Von around has definitely lead to Carson sleeping more, but it isn't as though Wes has stepped in to keep the old dog's activity level up either. He lifts the bottle to drain the last mouthful of liquid from it before he throws the whole thing - paper bag and all - into the river.

Environmentalism be damned.

It would be simple enough to throw the bottle away in a more proper manner, but in addition to the release of angry energy afforded by the physical exertion, the conscious effort is something Wes just can't do right now. Why would it matter, anyway?

Why does any of it matter anymore?

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