Santa Monica Bay, California,
Summer of 1982
“Wow! What an awesome day to be on the water,” Denise yelled to her boyfriend Thomas, as he trimmed the sails of his boat.
He smiled back, “Every day’s a great day to be on the water.”
“Oh, silly, you know what I mean.”
The late afternoon sun hung high over the dark blue Pacific Ocean, and a warm August wind blew a steady twelve knots from the Northwest. It really was a great day to be sailing, Thomas thought to himself, especially if you happen to be young and in love. Thomas reached across the small cockpit, made a final adjustment on the jib, and sat back to watch the love of his life steer their boat over slowly growing swells. Watching the wind whip through her long red hair, he shivered at the thought that she was his – his for the rest of their lives if today went as he had planned.
“So where do we want to go?” she asked.
“Anywhere you take me.”
“You’re too easy on me you know.” Denise brushed a lock of hair from her eyes.
“I’d follow you to the ends of the earth and back, if you’d let me.”
“I wish you’d be serious.”
“I am serious.”
“I’m afraid I believe you,” she replied, looking over at Thomas.
“Is that so bad?”
“No…not at all, it’s just that…I don’t know. It’s just that sometimes I’m just afraid I won’t live up to your expectations, Thomas.”
“Baby, the only thing I expect from you is your love.”
“You really are easy on me, yah know? And Thomas…I do love you.”
When he wasn’t rigging boats at the local boat yard, Thomas taught sailing at Harbor Charters, which is where he met his redheaded teenage love. Denise, formerly a student of Thomas’s, showed a natural ability on the water and soon became an instructor herself. From there she quickly joined the marina scene.
“I love you too.” Thomas carefully pulled a small box from his pocket, doing it so Denise couldn’t see it.
“This is all just so perfect,” Denise shouted out to the sea, “I wish today could last forever.” Thomas smiled in agreement. “Why are you looking at me that way?” She asked.
“I have a question,” Thomas replied, suddenly feeling very nervous, something he rarely felt on the water.
“Denise, would you marry me?” He held in his hand the open box; a small diamond ring sparkled in the sun.
A smile spread across her wind blushed face. “Yes, Thomas!” she squealed. “Of course I’ll marry you.” Side by side they sailed back to the marina, chatting happily about their future.
Two days later she simply vanished.