Once Upon a Pier
We met on a pier. It was early April and a chill still wrapped around the sea. He stood strong and tall at the end of the pier, one knee bent, a booted foot resting on a rail. His back turned to me; he was too busy looking through binoculars to notice me.
The first thing I noticed about him was how the wind mussed his hair. It was just one small patch of mousey brown hair, flipping up and out with each soft breeze. Oh how I loved running my fingers through it; the silver strands flickering through my fingers like sparkles of sunlight on busy waters.
His hands, wrapped gently around the binoculars, were smooth and flawless. Too quickly, I would miss the caress of those soft fingers on my flesh. His sleeves bulged from his strength hidden beneath them. Some days I can still feel the sinew of those muscles on my fingertips.
His voice, when he finally noticed me, was soft yet deep, the kind you’d hear reading a soft lullaby.
“Oh!” he said, flinching. “Have you been there long?” His eyes captured my attention immediately, stealing my breath with their intensity.
“I…I…I only just arrived, actually. Something about the morning air…” My nervousness brought a smile to his handsome face, making his dimples appear, and revealing his perfect teeth.
“You’re right. There is something about the morning air here. It’s always seemed fresher in the morning.” He hitched his binoculars to his belt and held his hand out to me. “I’m Aldus. I live in that blue house over there.” He pointed behind me. There was a large three-story blue beach house just beyond the sand dune off the pier. It was closer to the ocean than I had ever seen a beach house be. The shutters were painted coral, and the wrap around porch invited ocean front parties. It was lovely.
“Hi,” I returned, feeling shy suddenly. “I’m Chloë. I’m renting that small bungalow about six slots down from you.” I pointed in the opposite direction.
“Oh! You’re renting the Cobb’s place. How do you like it?”
It seemed an odd question to me, but I would come to love his curious nature later. Even now as I stand on the same pier many years later looking out, I wonder what my life would have been like if I’d never met him. The tiny smile creaking at the corner of my lips tells me that I wouldn’t have changed a thing, even though he completely changed the course of my life in just one summer.
Somehow, he managed to engage me in conversation that led us away from the pier and down the beach together. He kept me talking through brunch, which he paid for, and the leisure return to the pier, where he swept me into his arms and kissed me.
I don’t know why I wasn’t afraid of this man I had known less than 24 hours putting his lips on mine. I should have run straight to my bungalow, but I didn’t. I froze, leaving my hands in his, as his lips peppered my throat with kisses. He stopped as he breached my shoulder and turned to the ocean. He held one of my hands in his, clamped to his chest, his lips never far from my skin. As pink tinged the sky, he released my hand, only to pull me closer and wrap his arm around my shoulders. Still I had no fear as his voice soothed and assured any emotions I had. As the sun set, he led me to the blue house, through its pastel yellow door, and into his bed where I spent the rest of my summer vacation.
A small tear rushes down my cheek as our life together flashes before my eyes-our beach wedding, ruined by an overnight shipwreck that left seaweed on the shore; the birth of each of our seven children and their graduations; the patter of small feet as our grandchildren filled the house. I can still remember that day that started it all.
I remember how the room smelled as sterile as the instruments lined up neatly on the small counter. I remember how I could smell his fear (or maybe it was mine?) as the doctor entered, a false smile plastered on his face, to begin the explanation that would turn our world upside down.
“You have cancer,” he said, his voicing bouncing from the walls. “We didn’t catch it in time, and it’s spread throughout your body. You’ll be lucky to have six months. It’s moved much faster than I thought it would, Al. I’m sorry. I’ll do what I can to keep you as comfortable as possible.”
And Al fought hard. A little piece of my heart died with each strand of silver hair that fell off. The tears I cried before bed every night were in pity-pity for him, but mostly pity for me. I missed the man I fell in love with. I wanted him back. It hurt my soul to see the empty shell he was becoming and to look into his eyes, vacant but for pain. I wouldn’t change a thing about our life together, but I would take on even an ounce of his pain just for a moment, if it meant more years with him.
Two souls began a new life on this pier. Now, from this pier, with these ashes, I am setting his soul free.
For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, FlamingNyx gave me this prompt: “Something major happens in your life and your perspective changes.” Tell us a story where you detail the person’s thought process and emotional response..
I gave Chimnese this prompt: Your life changed too quickly with the unexpected arrival of your spouses teenage sons. Before you can catch your breath, you discover one of them has a sinister secret.
I also used the writing prompt from Studio 30+ this week which was: “we met on a pier.”
I always welcome your feedback. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this piece in a comment.
Thanks for stopping in!