“Ilana is going to be so upset with me,” were the first words that came to Hazel’s mind as Ray came to stand by her side. She didn’t look away from the horizon to confirm it was him; there was only one person who would venture waist-deep into the ocean to her.
“Honestly, she should be used to getting the salt-water out of your clothes by now,” his voice was calm as he rested an arm gently over her shoulders.
Hazel laughed at this, tuning her look from the endless ocean briefly to glance at her brother’s best friend. “They’re still out there, Ray. You believe me, don’t you?”
Ray took a breath but didn’t say anything immediately. Hazel waited, her hands clutching tighter on her elbows.
“How are you so certain?” he asked finally, nearly too quietly to be heard over the increasing waves.
Hazel’s lips pulled up in a small smile as she turned to face him, “The ocean told me.”
Ray didn’t give her that look that everyone else had been in the past weeks, as though she were a fragile being that would break if they didn’t treat her with great caution. He just looked at her thoughtfully for a while.
“You believe me, don’t you?” She asked again.
Ray was never one to answer quickly. Despite the darkening sky, the ominous clouds deepening on the horizon, and the restless waves increasing their vigor, he took his time to be able to give her a true answer. It was one of the things Vince had always really appreciated about his friend, and Hazem found herself thankful for it these days.
“I think that there are a lot of signs to say that they have been lost. The ship wreckage that was found, the lack of signs of survivors.” Ray kept his eyes in the horizon as he spoke in an even tone. He turned to Hazel, “My father always said that your mother had the most uncanny ability to tell what was out in the waters. She would tell him that the ocean had whispered to her that a storm would be coming, or that a ship was going to be returning the next day. And she was always correct.”
“Papa said that she would go out by the waters edge every night to hear what gossip the waves might be carrying.” Hazel’s face lit up, she adored every story about her mother and drank them in eagerly.
“You know my father is not one to believe in the mysterious.”
“He always scoffed at all of Papa’s superstitions,” Hazel agreed with a laugh, remembering the late-night conversations the two would often have. “Judge Memen is perhaps the most no-nonsense individual I have ever met.”
“And, despite all that he told me,” Ray smiled looking back over the water and launching into a near perfect imitation of his father, “Raymond, if Nerissa Salarm told me that the ocean had whispered that the King of Halferan would arrive tomorrow night, with plans to give his entire fortune to the first person he saw wearing a purple-plumed hat. You can bet that I would be out dockside, wearing your mother’s finest and brightest purple-plumed hat.” Ray laughed, “and I do believe you have the same gift. Who am I to ignore the wisdom of my father?” He took her hand in his, giving it a squeeze. “If the ocean told you they’re okay, the I believe you one-hundred percent.”