The sea itself is many miles away but close enough for her to hear it calling. On any other night, she would very much like to have paid it a visit, for the ocean had a way of making her feel small yet precious. In its presence, she was a mere grain of sand on its beach, and yet such a grain of sand was enough. It was its own universe; a gift even greater than that of the love of a parent. She knew a parent’s love was astounding, yet to be aware of one’s worth in a universe that couldn’t care less was the biggest miracle of all. Sniffing the rainy air, she smells seaweed and jagged wet rocks. Sniffing harder, she makes out the stones deep underwater that no one ever saw and the driftwood that once belonged somewhere to some thing before deciding that it didn’t want to belong anywhere at all. Even at such a young age, Gretchen knew she, too, was driftwood. She wished to be grounded, and yet her dream was only ever to be like the wind and the waves, forever and always unchained. Rolling onto her back as a flash of lightning is followed by a crack of distant thunder, she bares her teeth at the clouds as the tickle in her tummy grows to that of an itch she wishes never to be scratched.