She pushed herself to the surface. Her wet hair stuck to her face as she looked around frantically, but all she could see were the rolling waves, the dock now several feet away, and the horizon where the sun was starting to set. She filled her lungs once more and dove back beneath the water.
The ocean floor was empty of another person. She looked around until her lungs felt ready to burst, and then she pushed to the surface once again.
As she gulped fresh but cold air, she reached for the dock to pull herself up. A hand grasped onto her wrist and she looked up to see a man about her own age helping haul her out of the frigid water.
“What are you doing?” He asked incredulously as he immediately took his long brown coat off and wrapped it around her.
Angeline held the warm coat around her shivering body and took one more look at the sea.
“Ma’am? Are you alright?”
“F-fine.” She shivered through her words. “Just a bit cold.”
He chuckled. “I imagine so. What were you doing out there?”
She looked up into his dark brown eyes and realized how ridiculous she must look.
“I-I’m so sorry. It’s just…” She paused and looked out over the water, as if the woman in white might suddenly appear again. “I must have been seeing things. I thought I saw…a woman…she just dropped off the dock.”
The man chuckled again. “That’s what I saw. A serene woman resting on the beach who suddenly dove into the icy waves. I was about to jump in after you when you came up for air the first time.”
“No.” Angeline shook her head, her cheeks were sore from chattering her teeth together. “I was going after another woman. She was wearing a white dress. But, then she wasn’t there.”
The man’s eyebrow raised and Angeline didn’t know what to say to take back everything that had just been said.
“What’s your name?” He asked after an awkward moment of silence.
“Angeline. I live just over there.” She reached from beneath his warm coat and pointed north. “I come here all the time.”
“I’m Jack.” He stuck out his hand. She felt his warm fingers envelop her still-cold ones as they shook hands. “I live over there.” She followed his own pointing finger and saw he was pointing towards one of the half of a dozen boats tied up along the dock.
Angeline felt herself slowly warming up beneath his jacket. Her teeth had stopped chattering and feeling returned to her toes. She turned away from Jack and started back down the dock.
“Where are you going?”
Jack was following her. She shrugged off the coat, turned, and handed it to him.
“Thank you for the coat. I think I must be getting home.” She made it to where she had abandoned her book and lounge chair, Jack still following at a little bit of a distance. She tucked her book into her bag, slipped her feet into her shoes, and tucked the folded chair under her arm. Jack was standing next to her.
“Are you sure you’re alright Angeline?”
She shook her head, “I mean, yes. I’m fine. I just need to go home. Please, leave me alone.”
She left him there, standing on the sand in the fading daylight, as she hurried to the street that would lead her back home. The cold was catching up with her again, and all she wanted to think about was a warm shower and putting herself to bed.
But all she could think about, was the woman in white.