Indigo Waters – Chapter I

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Everyone fears something.  Indigo Waters is about taking life adventures and the people you want with you along for the ride. Full synopsis here.

Chapter I


          “Co! Wait up!”

            Cosette Hadley turned to see her best friend Miranda waving at her excitedly.  It was the last day of their senior year of high school.  It felt surreal.  Cosette would be going away to the University of Miami on a full writing scholarship.  She was looking forward to a summer of reading, writing and spending time with Miranda.  Since Bill’s death, the Hadleys left their beach house on small Bailey Island in Maine and moved to Portland—a big city that Cosette felt invisible in.

            “Hey,” Cosette smiled, pushing her long curly hair off her shoulder.

            “Were you going to leave without me?” Miranda asked offended.

            “Sorry.  Reef sent me a text.  Some kind of emergency family meeting,” she sighed.  “The last time Mom called one was when she found weed in Madeleine’s room.”

            Madeleine Hadley was barely nineteen, and was set on milking the rebellious teenager card for all it was worth.  While Cosette was shy, reserved and at times, withdrawn, Madeleine was outgoing, scattered, and at times, hurtful.  As for their older brother, Reef, he tried to help their mother enforce authority, but mostly, he was distant and absent.  Unfortunately, at twenty-two, Reef was no longer living at home and he followed in their father’s footsteps by joining the Navy.  Cosette worried everyday Reef was away.  She feared losing him just like she lost their father.

            “I’ll call you tonight, Mo,” Cosette said, waving goodbye to Miranda.

            The entire walk home, Cosette wondered about the family meeting.  Her mother was supposed to be at work.  Fear and anxiety consumed her as she began to run home, now worried something terrible had happened.  It had been five years since Bill Hadley passed, but not a day went by that Cosette didn’t relive the hurt or the terror that she went through in some form.  It still felt like she was fighting to keep her head above water and hold onto something that was already gone.

            She burst through the door, out of breath, and silently prayed she would see her mother and both her siblings in one piece.  As much as Cosette couldn’t stand Madeleine sometimes, she was still her sister.  Losing her father made her want to hold onto her family even tighter.  It seemed her siblings didn’t share the same sentiment.  Sure, Reef checked in with her and made time for her when he was home.  The problem was: Reef was never home.  Between the Navy and his girlfriend, Claire, Reef was slowly drifting away.  Cosette could feel it.  What was even worse was the way their mother had distanced herself.  It had been five years without a father, but it felt like the Hadley children lost both parents in that accident.  Rebecca Hadley may as well have been a ghost.

            She only made her presence known to scream at Madeleine or to call Reef to help her deal with her.  As for Cosette, she was the perfect student and a well-behaved kid.  She sometimes thought about getting trashed at parties or sleeping around with guys just to get her mother to notice her.  She just couldn’t do it though.  She knew somewhere her father was watching and she wanted to make sure he was proud of her.

            “Reef?” Cosette called out.  “Is everything okay?”

            She walked around the corner and into the family room.  It wasn’t at all like the family room they had on Bailey Island—where they had played hours of Monopoly in or watched movies on Sunday nights as Cosette and Madeleine fought who sat on Daddy’s lap.

”I have two legs for my two special girls,” he would say.

            This family room was much smaller and was barely lived in.  Fun times never occurred there, only family meetings—which were never a good thing.  The chair Rebecca sat in now was the same one she sat in five years ago crying her eyes out when they returned from the funeral.  The armchair was in her family for three generations.  Cosette hated that chair now.  Memories of her father sitting in it were too much to bear.

            “Everything’s fine Co,” Reef smiled, assuring her while standing next to his mother.

            Cosette pulled her strawberry blonde curls back into a ponytail.  Madeleine was already sitting on the couch with her feet on the cushion and knees pressed against her chest.  She had on her best “I don’t give a shit” face, and Cosette reluctantly sat down next to her.

            Rebecca Hadley looked sad, but that was nothing new.  What had Cosette concerned was that her mother looked like the one who was in trouble this time.  Madeleine was almost a spitting image of their mother, and she made the same face whenever she got caught doing something wrong.

            “Girls,” Rebecca swallowed a lump in her throat.  “I’m going away for a little while.”

            Madeleine’s light blonde head popped up.  Cosette could almost see the wild parties she was planning in her mind.

            “Where are you going?” she asked.

            Rebecca looked up at Reef.  He smiled at her encouragingly.  It almost seemed like he was the parent and she was the child.

            “To a facility that helps people suffering from depression and drug addiction,” she cleared her throat at the end of the sentence.

            Cosette looked over at Madeleine.  They were both shocked by their mother’s confession.

            “Drug addiction?” Madeleine confirmed.

            Rebecca nodded as she cried, “Prescription drugs.  Sometimes mixed with a few glasses of wine.”

            “Oh, because you’re a classy addict,” Madeleine said, angrily.

            “Maddie,” Reef sighed, his blue eyes warning her.

            “What?” She snapped.  “Don’t play the doting son act while she…” she bit her lip as she paused.  “All she cares about is herself.  What she lost.  I get screamed at for having a cigarette when she’s popping pills!” Madeleine shouted.

            “Enough!” Reef yelled.

            Rebecca was crying and Cosette couldn’t help but want to comfort her.  She crawled onto the floor at her mother’s feet.

            “Mom,” she cooed, wiping her tears.  “A few pills do not make you an addict…”

            “Oh Co,” Rebecca ran a hand over her daughter’s porcelain face.

            She was so young and innocent still, and yet she was no longer a child.  It made Rebecca weep even more for all that she missed while mourning and medicating herself.  How many times had she almost lost her job for mistakes she made or days she couldn’t get out of bed?  She was able to keep such an awful secret hidden from her children and even her co-workers for so long.

            “Sweetie, I am an addict.”

            “What do you think she was doing when she locked herself in her room all day, Cosette?  Don’t be so Goddamn naïve!” Madeleine yelled.

            Reef charged at Madeleine as if he were going to slap her.

            “Reef!” Rebecca yelled at him before turning to her eldest daughter.  “I’m sorry.  I was a hypocrite, but do you think I want this for you, Madeleine?  We all handled your father’s death differently,” Rebecca sniffled, her voice uneven.  “It’s time we stopped being victims and started living again.”

            “Remember Dad’s friend, Cappie?” Reef asked.

            “Who?” Madeleine asked, looking at him as if he had four heads.

            “Captain Hughes.  Dad’s friend from the Coast Guard,” Cosette nodded, remembering him being one of the men who rescued her that horrific day.

            “What about him?” Madeleine asked, wanting to get to the point.

            She just wanted to go to her room, listen to her music and write in her journal.  She felt like no matter what she did, she was the outcast of her family.  Reef was the responsible son, who followed in their father’s footsteps, while Cosette was a goody-two shoes who could never do wrong.  Even now, while their mother confessed her drug problem, she could feel the pity pouring out of her siblings for her.  If it had been Madeleine with the problem, she was sure the family would not show any sympathy—just disgust.

            “Cappie leads wild dolphin expeditions now,” Rebecca said, smiling at Cosette.

            Her face immediately brightened.  She loved marine mammals—especially dolphins.  Cosette had signed up for many animal rights organizations throughout her childhood.  She had done volunteer work to protect the oceans and save their marine life.

            “That’s so awesome,” she smiled.

            “What is that?” Madeleine asked.

            “I read about it,” Cosette said.  “Instead of swimming with trained dolphins, you can go out into the middle of the ocean and swim with dolphins at their own will.”

            “Their own will?” Madeleine asked.

            “The dolphins are free to leave if they want,” Cosette explained.  “They’re not captured and forced.  That’s why so many animals attack their trainers—because they’re depressed and mistreated.”

            Madeleine looked at Reef and her mother.

            “So, are you going to rehab with dolphins?”

            Rebecca laughed, “No, Maddie.  I’m going to a facility, but you and Cosette are going to work on Cappie’s dolphin boat for the summer.”

            “What!?” Both Hadley girls yelled.

            Madeleine threw her legs to the floor and stood up.

            “I am nineteen!  You can’t keep controlling my life!”

            “While you’re figuring out what to do with your life and living here rent free, yes, I can!”

            Reef interjected, “Madeleine, you’ll get to spend the summer in The Bahamas for free.  You’re not being tortured.”

            Madeleine thought about it for a moment.  A summer away from her nagging mother and brother seemed appealing enough.  Add on a trip to The Bahamas with cute boys?  She realized it was a pretty sweet deal.

            “Fine, I’ll go,” Madeleine sighed, as if she were still displeased; not wanting to let on she was kind of happy about it.

            Cosette on the other hand felt her heart stop for a moment.

            “I can’t go,” she shook her head.

            “Co,” Reef sighed.  “You have to overcome this.”

            She looked at him and then at her mother.

            “I haven’t been on a boat since…” she swallowed.  “Mom, don’t…”

            “Get over it, Cosette,” Madeleine sighed.

            Cosette shot her a look, “You weren’t there, Maddie!”

            “Baby,” Rebecca spoke up, “I know you’re scared, but you loved going sailing with your father so much.  You all did,” she said, looking over at Reef and Madeleine.  “He would want this for you.  It’s such a great experience for you.  I know how much you love the ocean and dolphins.”

            Cosette was crying, shaking slightly.

            “Why are you making me do this?”

            “Co, you have to get past this.”

            “Why?” She asked.  “I’m fine.”

            “You used to want to be an Olympic swimmer.  Now you don’t even want to get into the water,” Reef sighed.  “You’re not fine.”

            “I should have helped you overcome your fear much sooner,” Rebecca said.  “I’m so sorry.”

            “I’m allowed to change my mind.  I was twelve when I wanted to be a swimmer.  It was an unrealistic dream,” Cosette said vehemently.  “I am happy with choosing to be a writer.”

            “Because that’s so realistic,” Madeleine rolled her eyes, a habit of hers.  “You think it’s so easy to get published?”

            “At least I try, Maddie,” Cosette said.

            “Girls, stop.  You’re both going on this trip.  I need you to look out for one another.  Cappie understands your fears Cosette.  He’s not going to push.”

            “I can’t wait to go to Miami,” Cosette said, biting her lip.  “I’m sick of being ignored.  Nothing I say ever matters.  Nothing I feel ever counts.  I won’t go on this trip.”

            It was the first time she ever went against her mother.

            “Then you better find some place else to stay for the summer,” Rebecca said.  “You’re not allowed to stay here.”

            “Fine,” Cosette said before running out of the house.

            She could hear Reef calling her name, but she ignored it.  Instead of celebrating her high school graduation, she cried all the way to Miranda’s house.


            Miranda watched Cosette throw herself onto her bed and cry into her favorite pillow.  Her first instinct was to yank the pillow out from under her best friend, for two different reasons.  The first one: Miranda would jump at the opportunity for a paid trip to The Bahamas!  The second reason: Cosette was getting her pillow soggy with tears.

            “Co,” Miranda sighed, sitting down next to her.

            “Don’t tell me I’m overreacting,” Cosette sniffled, turning to look at her friend.

            “Well, aren’t you?”

            “How would you feel if your mother was addicted to pills?”

            Miranda almost forgot about that part.  Cosette told her so quickly and all that stuck in her head was The Bahamas.

            “Upset, but she’s getting help.  Maybe now you’ll get your mom back,” Miranda smiled.

            Cosette propped her elbow onto the bed and rested her head against her closed fist.

            “Maybe, but I’m not going.”

            “Yeah, I’d be pissed too if my mom forced me to go to The Bahamas,” Miranda scrunched her button nose with the freckle on the end of it.

            “It’s not The Bahamas I’m pissed about,” Cosette groaned.  “I’ll be on a boat, Mo.”

            Miranda sighed, “A cruise ship is huge, you’ll barely feel like—“

            “Have you not been listening to me?” Cosette huffed.  “I’ll be on a dive boat.  I’ll be working on it,” she explained.  “That means helping it dock and whatever else Cappie has planned for me.”

            “Who the heck is Cappie?”

            “Ugh!” Cosette threw the pillow at Miranda, who was genuinely confused. 

            Miranda caught the pillow and put it in her lap.

            “I hate to say it, but your mom is right.  You need to face your fear.”

            “No, I don’t.  I could understand if it was a fear of people or sidewalks.  I don’t have to go on a boat.  Ever.  I don’t need to go into the ocean.  Ever.

            “Or a pool either?” Miranda asked, remembering Cosette avoiding pool parties every summer.

            “No,” Cosette whispered.

            “Look, I know I didn’t know you before, but from what little you told me and from what I’ve heard—“

            “What you heard?” Cosette gasped.

            “Come on, Co, you were the new kid.  Of course there was talk.”

            She groaned, “I can’t wait to go to Miami.”

            She was beginning to say that sentence more and more each day.

            “If you hate the water so much, why’d you pick a college surrounded by water?”

            Cosette opened her mouth to speak, but stopped herself.

            “From what I know, you moved better in the water than you do on land.”

            “That was a long time ago, Miranda.”

            “Just go.  You’ll have fun.  You probably don’t even have to go in the water,” she shrugged.

            “Can’t I just stay here with you?”

            “My mom won’t let you stay here without your mom’s permission,” Miranda sighed.

            “I hate being seventeen,” Cosette groaned.  “I graduated high school and turn legal next month.  Shouldn’t that constitute as me being an adult?”

            “Considering you ran away from home crying over a vacation?  No,” Miranda stuck her tongue out.

            Cosette smacked her arm and laughed.

            “It’s not a vacation.  I have to work…with Madeleine.”

            “Good luck,” Miranda rolled her eyes.  She wasn’t too fond of her best friend’s sister.  “Seriously Co, you need to do this for your mom and your dad, but mostly yourself.”

            Cosette’s pale green eyes belonged to a scared child as she looked at Miranda.

            “I’m not getting in the water.  I stay on the boat,” she said stubbornly.  “I wish you were coming with me.”

            Her breath was shortened.  It wasn’t just boats and the ocean that terrified her.  New people made her uneasy.  She hated having to talk about herself; afraid it would always lead to a recap of the accident.

Once she abandoned swimming, her journal was there for her—to release her feelings.  She certainly couldn’t speak to her mother about her pain and Madeleine acted as if nothing had happened.  She didn’t cry at the funeral like Cosette did.  As for Reef, he did his best to comfort her but that was a challenge no one was up to.  Writing had been Cosette’s savior.  It also gave her plenty of excuses to lock herself in her room and shut out most of the world—except for Miranda, of course.

            Cosette didn’t confide in her best friend as much as she should have though.  It was too difficult to say what she felt out loud.  The pain cut so deeply.  Even the pages of her journal have ink smears anytime she even mentions the word “Dad” in an entry.  While journaling helped Cosette release emotions, writing fictional stories was her escape, much like her best friend.  Miranda was full of bubbly energy; it was impossible to be weepy when she was around.  Cosette just laughed nonstop while they were together, and she was most grateful for her.  This was supposed to be their last summer together before college.  It was just another reason why she did not want to board that boat in The Bahamas.

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  • Sandy Lo

    Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.