February 23, 2010

“So I hit Crescent City and decided to keep on going,” Joe said.

Audrey stood up. The cottage at Cannon Beach had never felt so small. She walked to the kitchen and opened the pantry, took the clipboard off the inside of the door, and began taking notes on everything inside. Don’t ask questions you don’t want to hear the answers to was her first item. Next was soup.

Photo by Pam Wells ©2010

“We’re out of minestrone,” she said. “You still like minestrone?”  She sniffed the red vinegar and grimaced.

He sat on a barstool. “Oh, not only do I still like it, I learned to make it.”

“Really? Was it worth dropping out of school for?”

Joe shifted. “Maybe.”

When you give birth to a child, you give him permssion to leave. Audrey dumped out a jar of caked chili seasoning. “How’s the bus running?”

“Good. Needs an oil change. Transmission needs a little work, too.”

She looked at him. Of the three boys, he’d always been the farthest away, even now as he sat across from her. He had her brown eyes and hair and Carl’s great smile. His hair was long now, surely six months without a haircut. He’d probably shaved three or four days ago, and his clothes were clean enough. She was suddenly aware of the sustained hum of the ocean.

Just as life can begin on a whim, so can it travel. “I need to go to the market before it gets too late,” she said.

“That’s cool.”

“You didn’t expect to see me here, did you, Joe?”

“Not really.”

“Well, I’d love it if you came along, but if you don’t want to, I hope you’re here when I get back.”

The ingredients for minestrone soup would’ve been a lot for Audrey to carry. While the soup was simmering, they crossed the sand toward Haystack Rock to explore the rocky pools before the tide engulfed them.

©2010 Pam Wells


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