As she walked along the beach, looking at the boats’ shadows growing by the minute in the sunset, she sighed.
Only a couple of surfers remained in the water, that late in the day, and most of the families had already headed back to their home, or their lodging, to get ready for dinner. The last daredevils still braving the waves yelled at each other, probably daring one another into trying this or that. Their laughters rolled with the white foam and the wind, at her feet, on the shore.
She held her shoes in one hand. She had always enjoyed the feeling of her toes digging in the sand, but it was the first time she was allowing herself that pleasure in the past year… She thought feeling the beach again beneath her feet would make her teeth cringe, but it didn’t, after all.
She walked around the boats, resting on the shore. She was aware that fishermen used the tides to park their ships on the ground between fishing outings, but it still looked a bit eerie to see them all aground.
From afar, she easily spotted Jon on the deck. He was probably getting everything ready for tomorrow’s departure at dawn. She didn’t understand how he could still trust the sea, but he did, day after day, and she had quite mixed feelings about that.
Hey! There you are! I was starting to think you had changed your mind… Come on, jump in!
They had met a number of times, since then, but always in town. She had refused to set foot in the harbour everytime he had invited her.
Woa! You’re loaded, let me help you out with this first!
Jon grabbed the bag from her hand, and lifted it onboard. She didn’t know why she had packed four bottles of wine. She’d probably get tipsy after a glass or two, but this was a night to remember, alright? A night to remember, as much as a night to forget.
He reached her way, and helped her up on the deck. Was it the warm light of the sunset, or the fresh breeze from the sea, ruffling his hair? She couldn’t tell… But for some reason, he seemed even more handsome than usual, tonight.
I caught a couple of red snappers today, they’re still your favorite, right? You’ll see, I’ve worked on my cooking skills, I hope I can do such special visit justice!
He winked at her before disappearing in the cabin. An amazing smell oozed out of there, and she relaxed a bit as she sat at the table he had set for them. She knew she should adress the very reason she had come for. But she just didn’t know how to break the ice. Jon probably felt the same. They always eluded any conversation about Thomas’ disappearance.
Dinner went smoothly, punctuated with laughter on both ends of the table. Jon had obviously understated his cooking, and when she put her fork and knive down, she felt she couldn’t take another bite.
Jon, we should really…
He stood up, sensing where she was heading. Picking a couple of logs from under a shelf, he threw them on the beach.
Yeah, a little later. Let’s warm you up first! It’s getting a bit chilly, wouldn’t you say?
It was, and after helping her down the fishing boat, he prepared and lit a small bonfire on the sand. The sun was long gone, and the sound of the waves was the only reminder that they were close to the sea, in the pitch black night.
She sat down and wrapped herself in the blanket he had provided her. He excused himself and disappeared for a moment back on the boat, coming back his guitar across his back.
The moon was high, and the beach empty, except for the two of them… He sat, struck a few chords, and started playing while she sipped on her glass of red wine. As the flames grew higher, their warm light licked Jon’s skin, and she felt uneasy, seeing the familiar features she had loved so much.
She recognized the song too. It was one Thomas loved. Probably his favorite before he had disappeared during that fishing trip, exactly one year before. Jon’s voice wasn’t as steady and accurate as he was used to, but his fingers strummed the strings with confidence, and she enjoyed the clumsy tribute to Jon’s brother.
And her (late?) fiancé.
Letting the last chords fading in the air, Jon turned to her.
Would you mind sharing that blanket?
She shook her head and stretched an arm, welcoming him under the warm shelter of the woolen cover.
Scooch over here!
In an odd, natural way, she snuggled against Jon. She had a feeling she sould be feeling guilty, but at long last, she felt good. Not just ”ok” as usual, but plain good. More than good actually, and a giggle echoed in the air. She wondered if it was hers or Jon’s, but she really didn’t care.
When he risked his arm around her waist, she blamed the wine for throwing her head on his shoulder. This wasn’t right, it couldn’t be.
Trusting fate, probably, Jon bent down and kissed her lips tenderly. She gave the kiss back in an instinctive way, and then, regaining her senses, pulled back a little.
What would he think if he came back?
The fire reflected on his smiling face. Damn, he looked good grinning as she doubted her acts.
What would he want, if he didn’t?
He was such a smooth talker. She knew that, and surrendering to the moon’s light, the sound of the waves nearby and wanting so bad to exorcise the loss they both had suffered, she leaned back closer and offered herself again forgetting any doubt she once had…
I would like to thank Jan, for the picture that inspired this story. My dear Danish friend finger feeds me little pieces of Denmark, regularly… But this picture was especially inspiring, and I (luckily) was allowed to use it in The Cove. Thank you, Jan!