As he turned to his side and opened his eyes, Milo cursed whichever deity out there for allowing him to live for another day.
It's not even daylight yet, Milo thought, sighing heavily.
He wiped his eyes with his cold hands, blinking sleep away to stare at the empty beach. Milo turned around and sighed again but with relief. His old acoustic guitar was still behind him, under the giant rocks’ shade. It was his only means of getting at least one meal a day.
He sucked in a deep breath, tasting the salty smell of the ocean wind, and sat up on the ragged mat he called his bed.
The lights from the street behind him plus the dead stars above, the noises of the bustling city mixed with the gentle splashes of ocean waves. He thought some may have found it tranquil. He saw it as reality kicking him while he was down.
Milo sighed and blew a strand of hair away from his face. He pulled his old and battered jackets closer to himself and got back down on the mat, hoping to sleep some more before work.
He laid on his back and stared up at the sky, some of the giant rocks behind him acting as shade, and he stretched his gloved hand out, moving his fingers around as if trying to touch each star. He saw it in a movie once back with his parents and had thought it dumb and a poor attempt to make the teen heroine appear whimsical. He still did but there was something oddly relaxing about it.
The sound of frantic splashing and shouts for help had him standing on his feet in seconds, head sweeping from left to right, already taking off his three coats and old sneakers.
Milo caught sight of an arm reaching up from the surface of the ocean when a passing car’s headlights hit the beach. They were moving farther away from shore.
He ran to his left and got close to the edge, taking a deep breath before diving. Milo’s eyes stung as he swam towards the struggling body.
Milo could barely see through the haze of bubbles their flailing arms were making but was able to grab their waist, moving up to the surface to take in a deep gasp of air.
“Stop struggling!” Milo yelled, nearly losing his grip on the person. More salty water entered his mouth. “I've got you!”
Milo looped an arm across their chest and used his free arm to pull them forward, and began to kick hard towards the shore.
He was lucky that there wasn’t a current. He didn't think he would have been strong enough at that moment to fight it. Milo’s body was already feeling aches and the person was not on the light side either.
They coughed harshly and their struggling began to die down. They turned and wrapped their arms around Milo’s neck and he stopped to let them, continuing towards shore with a better grip of his load and the cold stab of the ocean finally hitting him.
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