A man returns to a place that was special to him and his deceased wife.
|Our Little Stretch of Beach___________________________________________________________________________________________
The islands beauty had somehow dimmed since last year; the houses now seemed too large and looming, the daytime sun was scalding. We came here every year on our wedding anniversary and spent glorious weeks together, the island was beautiful then, the houses were grand. The crystal waters gently lapped at my bare feet, and the waves were a gentle sigh as I walked the sandy stretch of beach I had walked a year ago.
But this time I was alone.
We were here together last year, our fifth trip…fifth anniversary. By then it had become our place. During our last visit we spent seven days talking, holding each other…and crying. By then we knew how really sick Kimberly was.
“I want to have my ashes scattered here,” she said as we walked hand in hand that last morning here. “I want to become a part of our little stretch of beach.”
“There are still things we can do, Kim, it’s too soon to think about that.”
“I hope you’re right, Alan, but if not, it’s what I would like.”
It was still hard to believe Kim was so sick. Her sky blue eyes were as clear as ever, her blond hair as fine as the day we were married five years before, her supple skin as soft as I ever remembered it. We rode a roller-coaster of emotions that week. During the day we collected sand dollars, and my digital camera was full of pictures of Kim, taken at the beach. Her radiance, her life light, was still there. Somehow the light of day pushed away the reality…the terror. It was at night that the sadness swirled around us like a heavy fog. Waking in the early morning hours I’d find her awake, and I wondered what she was thinking about. Then I’d reach to her and embrace her, pulling her to me. Holding each other in the dark, we would cry and wait for the brightness of the new day.
Just weeks later she was gone.
As I stood outside her hospital room waiting to speak to the doctor my whole body trembled with dread as I waited for the words I knew would come. On the third night in the hospital they came. Five wonderful years was gone in an instant.
“I’m sorry, Alan,” the doctor said softly, “Kim is gone.”
I didn’t move from that spot for a long time, I didn’t want to take that first step in my new life…a life without Kim. Then, entering the room, I saw her in the dim light. Her blond hair was still fine, her skin still soft, but her beautiful blue eyes were closed. She looked peaceful and at rest. Through streams of tears I told her how much I loved her, and that I always would.
The year since our last visit here has been filled with sadness. I still have her things, but I know when I return home I will have to sort them out. I wonder what to do with the little gifts I bought her during our time together. How do you dispose of loving memories?
“You’re young, you will find someone who makes you happy,” my friends would tell me.
Maybe. But it’s impossible to even think of that now. I miss Kim even more than I thought I would. It hurts. I find myself talking to the urn that sits on a stand next to the bed…our bed. I want to keep it near, but I know what I have to do. I wonder how I will say ‘good morning,’ to her, and ‘good-night,’ when I don’t even have that any longer.
Now, standing at our little stretch of beach this evening, I look at my watch. Six years ago today, at 6:00 P.M. we were married. It’s nearly that time now. I’m glad it’s high tide so that the waves won’t take her out to sea, she wanted to remain here. It was her wish. A young couple sit next to a crackling campfire, marshmallows suspended by sticks over the orange flames. My heart aches with the memory of Kim and I sitting in the warm sand, near that very spot, as a small fire glowed and we talked of our future together.
I have to turn away to stop the pain.
It’s 6:00 P.M., and it’s time. A full moon has risen and streaks the grey ocean with specks of white. Seagulls ride the wind currents and appear to be painted on the darkening sky. Looking out into the speckled water there are Dolphins at play. It brings a sad smile to my face as I remember how Kim delighted in watching the dolphins. So long ago.
It is time to fulfill Kimberly’s wish.
Filled with sadness I left Kim behind on the warm, soft sand. It was where she wanted to be.
“This is our little stretch of beach, our special place,” she whispered to me one night a year ago. “This is where I want to be…it’s where I belong.”
A sad smile broke through the unhappiness that clouded my face as I thought about the times we had spent on that little island. Next to me was my digital camera, still full of the pictures of Kim from last year.
I keep it with me all the time now.
Writers Cramp entry: March 2, 2011. 1st Place winner, Writer Cramp, March 2, 2011.
Prompt: Write a story that includes the words, Dolphins, Digital Camera, High Tide, Campfire, Sand Dollars, Full Moon, Fog.
Word Count 910