the beach house
It had been a day like today, a serene one, shattered by her arrival: wonderfully sudden and intense and violent. The rowboat had been the same, the grey waves choppy, the shore unchanged; yet since that day, his life was a different one. She had come in the morning, on the rare occasion of one of his trips into town; purely by chance, they chose the same quaint, whitewashed beachside coffee shop to take their morning drinks. Eye contact led to cautious conversation led to a deep heart-to-heart far out in the calm grey waters of the bay. Then, after a night as extraordinary as the day had been, she had simply vanished, her blazing red hair no longer whipping in the breeze atop a rocky cliff, her full laugh never to fade off into the shadowy green woods, her eyes not to twinkle delightedly into his as lightning flashed in the billowing sky and the waves seemed to pull at the very shoreline.
The current grew stronger now, tugging the oars and threatening to spin him off course. Still in his reverie, he pulled and pushed and churned the water to move the weather-battered rowboat to his will, cutting through the choppy waves to calmer, glassy surfaces protected by the bay shore, its dark green trees meshing with the smooth grey rocks that met with the moody grey waters. As he neared the still waters, he recalled the sheer energy he had gained that day, the aliveness he had felt, the exhilaration of life coursing through his veins when she was near. He strained to feel that again, felt a physical need – not merely a desire – to feel that once more; without it, he seemed to himself no more than an empty shell of a man, once whole, but no longer.
The water here, while still grey, was slightly more transparent than out in the open waters; protected by the shore, he felt in control, aware of every detail surrounding him. The beach house – his beach house – sat nestled among the evergreens atop a grassy, sandy hill and fronted by a luxurious stretch of sand. Its grey surface, also weather-beaten, blended seamlessly with the bending dune grass and the smooth grey rocks scattered amid the sand; the worn wooden planks leading to the [back] door told the story of all those who had run excitedly down to the beach and wearily trudged up at the end of the day. That beach house was his castle, and nothing could disturb it. She had.
The day was not a perfect one: the sky was not clear blue, nor the water peaceful, but it had been the zenith of his life. She had been on the rowboat with him when that storm blew in, bringing with it fierce lightning and tempest winds, but she had relished it, seemed to bathe in the wild wind as it whipped crazily around her, trying to force her to relinquish control, yet she had not yielded. She yielded to him, though, willingly. And as she did, the storm ceased its incessant howling, the winds died, and the lightning no longer lit the sky. As they slept, intertwined, the waters were calm and lapped gently against the shore, just barely making their presence known. In the morning, just as the sun was sharing its brilliant, blazing rays with the rest of the world and he woke and she was gone, the waters resumed their churning and he was once again alone in the rowboat amidst the fierce currents.