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Beautiful Collision Liv Connelly
Chapter One

“Your heart is the size of an ocean. Go find yourself in its hidden depths.” ―Rumi


It was okay, serene almost. I’d accepted the fact I would die that night. Of all the ways to go, drowning didn’t seem that bad. Better than burning alive I supposed. All those hours alone in the vastness of the ocean made it easy to lose hope. I simply wanted a quick dip during my nightly stroll along the beach, the temperature was warmer than usual, tempting water called to me. Had I known that the angry current would become fierce; force me farther into the depths of
the sea, I’d never have even dipped one toe in.

Hands trembled as I rubbed my stinging eyes. Scouring my surroundings, I couldn’t tell the direction to shore. The beach vanished, nothing but the ocean in view. I was worn out from kicking, thrashing against a torturous rip. The fear that had gripped now dissipated. I’d given up, stretched out my arms and legs, faced the night’s sky and floated horizontally. Billions of stars scintillated the sky before me, but their light was too far away. I was swallowed up by darkness. A half-cast moon’s reflection delicately traced the outline of my body in the flickered ripples of the sea. It was beautiful.
Nausea rolled in my stomach after a soft wave curled and collided. I gulped in more unrelenting saltwater. I wretched through quivering lips, cold and tired. Long blonde curls floated wildly, alive under the deep black ocean. Twilight-
blue sea met grey clouds on the vast horizon. I shrunk to the size of a pebble, inconsequential to its grandness.
Visions of my parent’s reaction clouded my mind. So cruel was fate, how many family members could one lose in a lifetime? A salty tear rolled down my cheek, became lost, immersed, as was my body soon to be drifting to the seabed.

Soft whispers of rain rippled the sea, kissed my face. I closed my eyes. Exhausted, every inch of me drained.
“I guess you were wrong,” I confessed to the night.
Aunt Donna’s last words echoed through my mind.
You may not recognise it yet, but you’re destined for great things, she’d said with fierce determination. It will all come to you here, she pressed her finger between my brows. And here, then settled her palm on my chest where my heartbeat. Trust in yourself; when it’s time let go, allow yourself to be who you were born to be. Why had I believed my aunt’s words held a glimmer of truth?

I exhaled through the familiar notion in my chest, accepting my new fate. Heavy rain battered down from all directions. Movement surrounded as the wind picked up; I gagged, choked on water, the ache in my body robbing me of my peaceful end. Wind and rain and ocean collided into my body.
Should I let myself go? Let my lungs fill up with water? Accepting death was different to willingly drowning, wasn’t it? No. I’d hold on to my last breath until I couldn’t.

The current became stronger, my wheezing uneven as I bobbed about, struggling to stay afloat. It wouldn’t be long, not long at all, I’d thought.

Sinking. Blackness.

No, said a voice, a man’s voice, urgent, distinct and clear in my mind. Strong, warm arms hauled me above the ocean’s surface. My lungs drank in the air with noisy rasps. His taut muscles held me secure, pressed against his huge chest. I tilted my head, wanting to see his face but barely identified the outline of a chin. I coughed, heaved water, again and again until the darkness took over.
In and out of awareness, disoriented, I thought he said something, but the wind stole his words. Where’d this man come from?
My limp, shaking body settled on him. Cocooned in the safety of his arms, he waded through the sea in the current’s swift direction. My eyelids dragged closed, I hadn’t been able to think a coherent thought, except that we were moving unusually fast.

Firm hands rocked my shoulder, I stirred. Holy hell, I was unbelievably cold. Red, blue and white lights cut through the black night. My clothes were soaked with coarse sand caked on my face. Icy fibres bit to my core. What is going on? A torrent of nausea churned my insides. Shivers intensified with each wretched heave as I gagged, my back arched and then the bed of sand flooded with salty water. Ugh.
A lady spoke, I knew she was close but her voice sounded far away. “Hi, I’m Louise.” My vision blurred into focus. Her transparent blonde brows held together in thoughtful consideration. “Can you tell me your name?”
“I’m...” God, my head wasn’t right, my name, what was it? None of this seemed real. I tried to wipe my mouth with frail, trembling palms. I was conscious I’d just emptied my stomach right where she was kneeling, albeit sea water, but still... gross. A familiar yelp caught my attention. It was my black French bulldog. “Jett,” I rasped. A swaying arm pointed towards his cries.
“Is Jett your dog or friend?” Louise asked. Her voice firm, she meant business.
Jett growled as a burly man in a paramedic uniform carried him towards the truck. “My dog,” I whispered, feebly lifting my head to track his whereabouts. There was so much noise, so many people. The fast-moving blades of a helicopter echoed along the shore, a spotlight skated along the choppy ocean.
The woman touched my shaking face; it felt good against my arctic skin. “Do you know your name?”
“Helena,” I blurted but shivered too violently to elaborate.
“Nice to meet you, Helena. We will get you to the hospital shortly. Can you tell me how you got here and where your friend is?”
I nodded, swallowing in preparation for my sore throat to speak a full sentence. Opening my mouth, words wouldn’t come out, as if my brain shuddered with my shaking body.
A fast-approaching commotion gained Louise’s attention. Relief took over and I slumped back into the sand. Reflecting lights flickered off the sea.
Paramedics brushed the lady aside and cut my sodden clothes off with large scissors then swaddled me into a blanket. It felt like ice burnt and frosted through my veins. I didn’t care who saw my naked body. The blanket was hooked to a heater which sent warming air currents, but the heat didn’t so much as touch the surface of the brittle cold that gripped onto my bones. They carried me on a stretcher, then a waiting bed with wheels. I trembled furiously; the cold metal rail hit my arms as they wheeled me into the ambulance.
What happened? A strong tangy odour of plastic engulfed my senses as a mask was positioned with a hiss of pressurised air. People were shooting out orders, but all I could take in was Jett’s unrelenting bark.
“My dog...” Louise leaned next to me in the ambulance and narrowed her eyes. “My dog,” I croaked out again, voice muffled by the mask.
Louise’s face relaxed and said, “Jett is in good hands,” she squeezed my elbow. I noticed she dressed in normal clothes, everyone else in the blue paramedic’s attire. Police.
“The man who, who saved me, is he okay?”
“We’re searching for him.”
He left me?
“This is important, Helena, were you with any other people?”
“No, just my dog. And the man, I don’t know him, or where he came from.

He, he saved me.” I tried to sit up but flopped back onto the soft mattress, my muscles were like jelly. Heavy doors slammed shut and the motor roared, muting Jett’s wines and the hum of the helicopter.
“We presumed as much. Do you know how long you were waiting on shore?” I shook my head. “We’re trying to determine if he called before, or after he rescued you, can you remember?”
“I don’t know.”
I hope it was after because that could mean he may not have made it. Could it?
Harsh lights bored as my head thumped. Blurry faces peered at me; I was moving. The metallic smell, sterile bleach and sick people confirmed we made it to Auckland City Hospital. Looking around, I noticed two of the three uniformed women pushing my bed wore ridiculous cartoon character headscarves. One of them trailed my line of sight and smiled. It was hard to catch everything she said but I picked up that someone they knew made them. I wondered if they did this to distract patients from their dire situation.

A nurse hoisted the bed higher once I was parked in a room. Tubes attached to the top of my hands, warm liquid poured into me. The chill in my bones finally melted. I closed my eyes as my body sank into the bed.
I could finally breathe.
Within beats, the nurse hurriedly said, “She’s lucky. They think her boyfriend’s still out there.”
“I heard. Apparently, there were no footprints leaving the beach.”
I tried to hold out to listen in on their hushed conversation, but the slumberous blanket of sleep took me.
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