Thursday, February 22, 2007

Encounter on the Beach (Part Two)

He cleared his throat, looking around.

“You wanted to talk,” she said, her voice cracking a little.

“Uh, yeah, I did,” said, looking down at the sand.


“Like you don’t know,”

She laughed at him, making the dog stop and look at her.

He grimaced and turned toward the water, taking several steps, turning his back to her, looking at the choppy, gray water for a moment.

“So talk,” she said, waving her arm as she said it, looking down at her feet, kicking a shell with the toe of her boot. He turned to her and began to talk.

She had heard it all before, how he loved and respected her, how she filled his life, what they had in common, how much he needed her. Men, she thought, all about them, how about what she got out of their “relationship” or didn’t? Would he leave his wife for her? Never, and she knew that. Then he brought up her trip to Florida the month before and how much it had hurt him that she had not invited him along.

“I told you why. You agreed it wasn’t a good idea.”

“Only because you said you needed your space. I didn’t know you would be with him…”

“Because I knew you would react like this. He’s my husband. And I don’t have to explain what I do with him to you, of all people.”

The man looked at her for a moment, then turned and walked quickly back to the car, his head down, his feet digging into the sand as he tried to walk faster than he could in his dress shoes, slipping. The dog ran up to him, a stick in his mouth, almost tripping him as he neared his car. He kicked at the dog, which avoided the kick and ran toward the woman, who was now looking out at the water again and had not witnessed the little scene by the car.

“Men are worse than nothing, you know that sport?” she asked the dog, who barked at her, looking at the stick and back to her.

She bent and grabbed it, throwing it into the distance as the dog raced after it, sand flying as he ran.

The other car started and departed with a squeal of tires.

The woman walked down the beach, the dog cavorting around her as she walked, her head down hands in her coat pockets, ignoring the ringing of the cell phone in her pocket. She found a large log in a sheltered cover and sat on the sane with her back against it. The dog took a break, flopping down beside her and chewing on the stick. Here out of the wind it was almost warm and they both dozed for a while, drowsed by the sound of the waves.

It was over an hour before the cell phone rang again. She dog’s head came up and he looked at her as she took it from her pocket and looked at it. She answered it.

“Hello there,” she said. The dog nuzzled her other hand and she stroked his proffered head as she listened to the caller.

“Taking Sport for a walk,” she said. “I heard it, just didn’t want to talk to anyone right then.”

“No, I did not know it was you.”

She listened.

“OK,” she said finally, closing the phone and sighing, petting the dog for a few moments before levering herself to her feet. The sand tired her out and the dog insisted on exploring and stopping several times to relieve itself and drink from pools of rain water above the high tide line. He did not like salt water at all, except for swimming. She knew she would have to wash him down when they got home. It was farther back than she remembered, the wind had picked up and the rain started by the time they got back to the safety of the car. The dog, as her husband had predicted, got in the back seat and promptly covered it with sand. She smiled at the happy look on the dog’s face and lolling tongue as she started the car and backed out. Her stomach growled as she pulled onto the highway.

It was about a half an hour drive to get her home and on the way she turned on the stereo, playing music she could sing to. The dog climbed over the seats and sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window at the passing scenery. He patted his head and he smiled at her

On arriving at home she left the dog in the fenced back yard to eat something and went inside, slipping out of her coat and rubbing her arms as she pulled leftovers out of the refrigerator and heated them, along with tea. She sat at the table, her boots in a pile by the door, her coat on a chair as she ate a hearty serving of beef stew, rolls and salad, more than she had eaten in some time.

She slipped out of her sweater an riding pants and into a pair of heavy sweats before going out and using the warm water from the utility tub in the garage to quickly wash down Sport, who seemed to like it. Using an old blanket she rubbed him dry and let him in the house, where he made a bee line for his comfortable dog bed and was asleep in a moment.

Leaving her things where they were she followed suit, throwing the afghan on the couch in the den over her legs she fell into a deep sleep. That was where she was when her husband closed the back door and she woke in the dark, the sun having gone down since she lay down. Turning on the light he found her looking up at him, her eyes half open and hair askew.

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