Shorefronts faded from view as a sprinkle of water sprayed from the ocean and onto Marcas’s arm. He didn’t flinch, his mind distracted by two objects – a stamped, unopened envelope flapping around in his left hand, and a pair of shoes tied to the edge of the rail at the stern of the boat.
‘You care for a slice of cake, sir?’
Marcus turned. An elderly waiter stood nearby, a tray of food in his hand. Marcus waved him away.
‘You ok, sir?’ The waiter placed the tray on a seat nearby.
‘Why is life so cruel?’
The waiter smiled, ‘Only to some, sir.’
‘I’m one of them. No one respects me at work. My partner leaves me for a co-worker. Was going on while we were still together. Didn’t have the guts to tell me. Third time a girl has dumped me like that. Nice guys don’t prosper in this world. Only pricks do!’
‘How long were you with her?’
‘And the letter?’
‘It’s from my doctor.’
‘You gonna open it?’
‘It’s not good news, I know it.’
‘What if it isn’t?’
‘I can’t take another kick in the guts.’
‘That why you’ve tied your shoes to the railing?’
Marcus did not answer. His eyes drifted to his feet that stood on the second top rail. He staggered, the straight shots of scotch he had earlier finally kicking in.
‘Don’t do it!’ continued the waiter. ‘It’s not the answer.’
‘It will help me escape this emptiness, unfulfillment. The view sums up exactly what life has to offer me.’
The waiter shuffled a little closer.
‘There are two types of people in this world, my pessimistic friend. One sees the night sky as pitch-black. The other sees the stars. Same view, different perspective. You see the end of the line. I see endless possibilities. The sun setting on an old chapter and rising to begin a new one.’
‘The sun has not risen in my life for three months.’
‘If life kept a tally of the times we succeeded and failed, you will find we score a lot more in the latter. That’s how we grow. Become a phoenix, rise from these ashes. Switch your mindset. Your outlook on life will be much clearer.’
Marcus listened to the squelching footsteps disappear before he turned his attention to the letter in his hand. His fingers shook as he opened it. Slowly, he slithered the piece of paper out and unfolded it.
A smile transformed his gloomy expression. As he wiped away a tear that rolled down his cheek, a pod of Dolphins appeared before him, dancing in amongst the whitewash.
‘Beautiful, aren’t they?’
Marcus turned. A woman stood beside him. His heart skipped a beat, his breath left his chest, and warmth returned into his soul. The phoenix was rising from the ashes.