Thursday, February 12, 2009

RENEWAL... a short story for Valentine's Day

She wriggled her toes in the cool damp sand. The early morning breeze blew across her upturned face. She stared absently at the emerald green waters of the gulf. Soon the breeze, warmed by the sun, will blow across the beach crowded with noisy children escaping multiplication tables and spelling tests. However, for now, the beach was hers. Sharp cries from delighted gulls swooping down on their unsuspecting breakfast pierced the quiet of the morning. As the waves lapped at her feet, she saw the outline of yesterday’s sand castles. Maybe the children will build them again today. With a deep sigh, she leaned against the hard back of the wooden chair. By mid morning, the hotel staff will offer pillows and umbrellas. Sitting on bare wood in the early morning was all the comfort she needed. She closed her eyes and memories rushed over her. They met here, many years ago.

She was young with sun kissed skin, eyes bright with expectation. He was handsome, tall, and dark from months of working outside. They met on this very spot, or at least one close by. They could see nothing but each other and feel only the promise of years of happiness. Ah, they were young and in love. It felt so good; it felt so right.

Theirs was a fast courtship, a strange word today, but correct in all its implications. He met her family; she met his. They went to movies, dances on Saturday night and church on Sunday morning then afternoon picnics with their friends. They talked for hours about everything and nothing. They were inseparable. No one was surprised when he gave her the ring. It all seemed perfect.

Then the war came. Before they could be married, he left. She never forgot the outline of his shoulders beneath the uniform as she watched him walk away. She held fast to her dreams, believing that one day he would come back and they would live the life they planned. She knew that he was the great love of her life. There was no doubt that he adored her. Time and distance cemented their love as both wrote long letters, sometimes more than once a day. One day there were no more letters. There was no explanation. At first, she kept writing daily, hoping that her letters would reach him. After a year with no word, she wrote weekly. Then one day she stopped writing. She could not go on. Her heart broke with every word she wrote. If she stopped writing, perhaps the pain would go away. She never heard another word from or about him.

That was over 40 years ago. She lived a busy but lonely life. If she kept busy, she did not have time to think about it. He was one great love in her life. Some nights he came to her very plainly while she slept. She woke with a familiar feeling of love and comfort. In the morning light, she realized it was only a dream.

As she sat on the beach, she felt the loving gaze of his deep blue eyes, his gentle touch, the shape of his fingers, the curve of his neck, his long lanky legs, she thought about all for which she had to be thankful . Many never know the great love of their life. She counted herself lucky to be one that had loved, if only once. The sun warmed her body but not her soul. She moved to the shade of a rainbow colored umbrella. Closing her eyes brought him back to her. With the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, she found peace and was renewed again.

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