February 22, 2010
False spring or true, the weather had summoned Audrey to the coast. Carl had felt a similar call to the golf course, so she went alone.
The little house in Cannon Beach had been Carl’s inheritance and Audrey’s gift. They didn’t come often enough for her liking, and they would be renting it out for much of the summer to help with taxes and upkeep. There was a lot of that. Carl managed leaks and creaks when he was there; Audrey took care of the small yard and would touch up the white trim which, unprotected, would buckle in the salt air.
An even two hours from home, Audrey swung off Highway 101 toward Hemlock Street. A few turns more, and here was the cottage, a carton of weathered gray shingles on the edge of the ocean. She pulled into the gravel parking area.
“She unlocked the front door and went inside,” Audrey said aloud. She’d adopted this little ritual of announcing herself to the house. It wasn’t to alert furniture to stop moving or creatures to stop talking; Audrey’s imagination knew its limits. Her smile broadened as she looked out the great window at the ocean.
“It’s me,” she said. The waves rumbled.
The plan for the next three days circled around walking and writing. She set her notebooks on the table. She’d brought some short pieces to work on and she’d brought the beast. If any place was better suited to working on the new draft of her novel, she didn’t know about it. First she had to walk.
The beach was calm. She had plenty of company here—this weather drew out the most unlikely folk—which made no difference to her toes. The tide was going out, leaving a wide, wet expanse of sand. She walked south toward the massive rock called Haystack. There were seldom many shells, but today Audrey was noticing a lot of broken sand dollars. These were, what, half dollars? Forty-two cents? A quarter?
She returned to the house with a few sandy specimens and set them on the handrail. She brushed off her feet and walked inside, leaving the door open. Again, “It’s me,” she said.
“Me, too,” came back to her.
Audrey spun around. A young man stood in the kitchen with a glass of orange juice.
Audrey had to breathe before she could talk.
“Joe,” she said, and shook loose from her spot to move toward him. They hugged as the wind fanned through her notebook pages. “It’s you.”
©2010 Pam Wells