Day 11 of StoryADay May.
The Prompt: Write a story in which the setting is key.
Our life has been full of things left unsaid. For some people, silence happens because they are afraid to speak, afraid for someone else to know what lies in their truest of hearts. For us, silence was the ultimate expression of truth.
Mom always told me that words were empty, hollow. You can say anything. What’s really hard, what really shows who and what you are is your actions. We were women of silent action.
I never heard my mom tell me that she loved me. She never said it, because she didn’t need to. Everything she did showed me that she loved me, that I was the piece that her heart couldn’t live without.
I miss her. I want to feel that essential again. So I am here. I am looking for her in the place we shared. Our beach.
With my eyes closed, the murmur of the waves against the sand almost sounds like her voice. I know I already said she wasn’t a woman that believed in words. But that didn’t mean we didn’t talk. We would sit here, planted in the sand, our toes tucked under the warm, gritty upper layer. I would wiggle my toes deep, burrow into the colder sand below, just water-logged enough to feel like silk. I would tell her about school, about boys. She would listen. She would give me advice. But the her-ness of the moment was always in the touch of her hand. On my arm, smoothing my hair, rubbing my back while I cried.
I open my eyes now, almost expecting to see her settled next to me. She is not. Instead I get the flickering silver of moonlight dancing with the frolicking ocean. Waves hit the beach, sending splinters into the air. Sparklers.
I lick my lips. I taste of salt. I can’t tell if it from the sea or my own tears.
And then I laugh. The last time we were here together, I asked my mom why this was the spot was ours. What was it that drew us here?
She told me this is where we started. I had no idea what she meant, and I kind of wish I hadn’t asked for clarification. She laughed. She had had three beers while we sat and watched the sun send orange shards that melted into pink sherbet across the surface of the water. That might have been two beers too many. I don’t think she would have told me what she did without the malty taste of beer in her mouth.
This spot was were I was conceived. Not literally where I sit now. I don’t think I could park myself on the sand knowing that that had happened here. But behind me, near the swaying stalks of beach grass. Nestled between two dunes.
This has always been our spot. Always.
I am crying again. I want her here so that I can say goodbye. That’s why I’m here. To replace a moment that I didn’t get to share with her. She was gone hours before I even got the call. I didn’t get to tell her goodbye. More importantly, I didn’t get to show her goodbye, hug her into the beyond, my hug a promise that all would be well, I would see her again.
I want to give us that moment now.
My hand falls to the box at my side. Carved from drifted beach wood, polished smooth by the motion of waves and teeth of sand. Gray like her eyes.
I lift the box to my chest and hug it tight. We stand. I carry us forward, into the water. It is still sun-warm. The waves wrap around me. When the water reaches my waist, I lift her above my head. I don’t want the waves to pull her from before I am ready. Before I have given her goodbye.
The water at my chest, I lower the box and hold it at the water’s surface. I slip off the lid and set it on a passing wavelet. It drifts away from me. I watch until it is gone.
I let the box follow, what is left of Mom resting inside. Tendrils of her are teased into the air by the gentle breeze. She glistens in the moonlight as she rises. I watch her drift in the air for a moment, then turn my attention to the rest of her in the box. She is leaving me again. But this time, I have sent her off.
I have shown her goodbye.