Ebb and Flow by Jonathan Stark

November 21, 2013 Comments Off on Ebb and Flow by Jonathan Stark

Marta retrieved the flip-flop and dropped it into the bag.  It was crusted with sand and still smelled of salt and plankton.  The clinging grit on her fingers made her smile, memory of the small hand, clammy and sticky from digging for sand dollars, which had held hers while wearing it.

The bag was heavy when she lifted it, burdened with sandcastle buckets – tidal pools full of shells that cascaded over each other as she moved – rivulets of color slithering and, she imagined, the slightest whisper of the ocean.

A lone suitcase remained by the door, gorged on the last of her worldly possessions from this place.  The rooms were devoid of personality now with only the drip of the half bath faucet breaking the silence.  She hadn’t been able to hear that before, when the children were still here, clamoring over the furniture and terrorizing each other with rotting crustaceans.  She looked at the couch where the ice cream had spilled and they’d flipped the cushion.  This was their place.

But now they were leaving.  And taking their dreams with them.  A soft breeze tickled her arms as she walked to the car.  The “For Rent” sign squeaked a farewell as they drove away, palms waving good bye, paradise lost.

Heart heavy and thoughts far away, Marta didn’t see Lucia on the bridge as they passed nor did Lucia see Marta, her heart leaping at the sight of the palm lined boulevard, the branches seeming to wave her onward, welcoming her.

The “For Rent” sign squeaked a greeting to Lucia as she parked on the crushed shells of the drive.  A gaggle of children emerged, skipped the house, and ran straight for the beach.  Whooping and hollering danced skyward with the darting sanderlings.  She started to unload the car but a hand stopped her.  “Later,” he mouthed, and then pointed after the children.  She smiled and took the beach bag as they followed – leaving a lone suitcase beside the car, bulging with their worldly possessions.

Lucia laughed at the children already at home on the water’s edge.  She marveled at the dunes, the wind, the birds, that she was here and this was their place now.  She stopped along the path to pick up a flip-flop that had been lost in the dash to the sea and set it in the bag where it rested on sand castle buckets, waiting to be filled.

© 2013 Jonathan Stark

Jon lives and works just outside of Washington, DC and spends his non-working hours with his wife juggling four children, three dogs, and a pony.

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