Among the Dunes, the Lady in Blue
May 5, 2017
Caleb Pirtle III
He had known her for two dances and a single night. Where had he been all of her life?
He came down to the beach at sunrise.
Miles of bleached sand.
A golden glow upon the water.
White-capped waves fighting furiously to reach shore.
That was the only sound of a new day.
Waves pounding the sand at his feet.
It was a roar.
It did not end.
It never ended.
That’s what he liked about the beach.
Everything happened mostly at the same time every day.
He checked his watch.
It was twenty-six minutes past seven.
He was early.
He always was.
She would be there in thirty-four minutes.
He sat down upon the sand and waited.
He closed his eyes and thought of her.
A woman in blue on the dance floor.
Hair so blonde it was white.
Tall enough so he could kiss her without bending over.
A contagious laugh.
She was always laughing.
He had known her for two dances and a single night.
Where had he been all of her life?
That’s what she asked him.
That’s what he wanted to know.
She laughed when she said it.
“Someday we’ll be together,” she said.
He believed her.
They walked the beach together until the gentle rains came.
It was twelve minutes before midnight.
And they had raced madly, hand in hand, through the dunes, past the pool, around a palm tree, and into the back entrance of the hotel.
She laughed every step of the way like a school girl.
They rode the elevator together and he walked her to room four-sixty-two on the eighth floor.
She kissed him lightly.
Was it a promise?
He didn’t know.
“I’ll meet you on the beach in,” she whispered.
“Let’s make it eight o’clock.”
The door closed.
And he was alone again.
He still was.
She said her name was Arlene.
She worked for a law firm in Montgomery.
She was on business.
He was on vacation.
She had one more day., and she said she would spend it with him.
He watched the seagulls sail in the wind.
He saw the terns scrambling amidst the tide, always moving, never still, content to eat whatever the sea threw upon the shore.
The sun had risen above the ocean now.
The sky around the sun was painted in pastels.
In the West, it was black.
Maybe the rain was coming back.
Maybe the rain was just leaving.
He checked his watch again.
It was two minutes until eight.
He glanced back over his shoulder, hoping to catch sight of her as she walked through the dunes.
His were the only footprints in the sand.
She wasn’t there.
Women were always late, it seemed.
He would wait.
He had been waiting a long time.
He had been waiting for twenty-six years.
Every December tenth, he drove back to the beach.
That’s the day she promised to meet him.
He was always early.
He did not want to miss her when she came.
He had checked with the hotel the next morning.
No Arlene was registered.
“What about room four-sixty-two?”
“It is empty.”
“Did the guest check out?”
“There was no guest.” The desk clerk said.
He had not forgotten the kiss.
He had not forgotten the promise.
He was back as he said he would be.
At eighteen minutes past eight, he saw her in the dunes.
She was laughing.
She walked to his side.
The lady in blue.
The lady with hair so blonde it was white.
The lady looked as she did the last time he saw her.
Same hint of music in her laughter.
“I knew this day would come,” she said.
“I’ve been waiting,” he said.
So have I, she said.
She reached down for his hand, and the wind ruffled her hair.
“Where are we going?”
“Never here,” she said.
She took his hand.
“Never there,” she said.
They walked together to the edge of the sea.
He glanced back over his shoulder.
There were no footprints in the sand.
The sun darkened.
The laughter stopped.
The wind no longer ruffled her hair.
Only the tern was left on the beach.
The tern and the sand.
Rain fell like tear drops as it touched the surf at his feet.
But it didn’t cry for him.
He was gone.
He had left with the only woman he ever loved.