When a baby is born,
And family and friends gather around
Celebrating and Encouraging,
When a soldier is homeward bound
Carrying memories with pride
And thoughts of those who lived or died,
He remembers teamwork.
When medical personnel, firemen, and the law
Save someone from death,
allowing even one more breath,
When mothers and fathers spend the time
teaching their children right from wrong,
When all work together
To make the world a better place,
the two women drank and talked, exchanging names, dreams, and their stories. The women, Mary and Linda, were long time
friends who had met and bonded in high school.
They lived next door and shared life together. They scheduled their
workouts at the same gym, worked at the same bank, and were always there for each
other in times of stress or emotional trauma.
single, but not by choice. Mary was divorced and Linda was widowed. Both had
lost a man to the sea. Mary’s husband
had sailed off four years ago and had never returned. She waited a couple of years
and then quietly got a divorce. Linda had invited her into her home as a guest,
the least she could do for her friend.
Three months later their roles were reversed and Mary was doing the
comforting. Linda’s husband died when an ocean swell, a rogue wave, flipped his fishing boat and he drowned before
rescuers could get to him. As Linda mourned and Mary comforted her, their bonds
ignored rumors that they were more than friends. They needed each other for emotional support
as well as financial support. Night
after night they had cried in each other’s arms, and often went out to dinner
or to the movies. This night was different.
They were tired of being home, repeating the same routines. They ventured out on an impulse, just for a
drink or two, and promised each other they’d return before it was too late.
his story about heading to the flatlands, falling in love, and then losing his
wife. He explained how he had to get
back to the ocean before he went crazy.
After a while Caleb insisted it was time for him to leave, not because
he was tired, but because he was afraid he would break promises he had made to
Mary, it’s been a real pleasure sharing this table. I think it’s time for me to go.”
her glass and said, “One round for the road.”
Then Mary added, “One round to salute your wife’s memory.”
thought both toasts were reasonable and well deserved. The night blurred and
faded and with the help of Linda and Mary he stumbled out into the
darkness. He had forgotten his
promises. He was past the point of
caring. He was with two beautiful women
who were his friends. They had been the
only ones he had allowed himself to share memories of his wife and his
attraction for the sea. They walked him
back to their house and told him he could sleep on the couch. He didn’t remember getting undressed. What he did remember was the tide coming in,
the relentless pounding of the surf, the acceptance of the sand, and the
excited murmurs of the ocean breeze that continued throughout the night.
with a start. His mouth was dry and his
head was pounding. Sunlight streamed
through the windows. A leg was over his,
an arm across his chest. He shifted
slightly and then struggled to sit up. He was confused and disoriented. Where
was he? What time was it? Was he
dreaming? Was he back at the flatlands
with his wife? “I’m dreaming,” he thought. “I can feel her next to me just like
before.” The thought was rather pleasant
and he slowly sank back into his pillow, content and ready to dream for awhile.
Reacting to his movements Mary snuggled
against his chest and sighed contentedly. The warmth of her body brought back all the
memories of his wife and the flatlands.
His hands and lips caressed her face, her neck, and her breasts. He
didn’t dare open his eyes for fear that this dream would end. After his wife died she often appeared in his
dreams but he didn’t remember her ever feeling this real. They made love slowly at first, then passionately.
He rolled onto his side and opened his
eyes. For the second time he was
confused. The curtains, windows, and
walls looked real. His clothes were
neatly folded on a chair next to another set of clothes. His mind was suddenly alert. “Women’s clothes!” This was real! It was not his imagination!
Just as he was starting to push himself up, a
woman lay down beside him, pinning him against a body on his other side. “I was going to make breakfast for us but I
think it can wait.”
familiar but his mind had already played tricks on him. Caleb’s mind whirred and he remembered
meeting her. This woman was Linda. She
was with Mary. Linda and Mary. They had drinks with him and he vaguely
remembered walking with them to their house.
Now everything was coming into focus.
Linda was pressing against him, moving her
hips suggestively. He started to protest
but already he was responding, moving in an age old rhythm. When their lovemaking was over, he collapsed,
spent and exhausted. He studied Linda
carefully and then turned to Mary, who was sleeping. He looked back at Linda, his eyes filled with
Before he could ask anything Linda said
admiringly, “O.k., cowboy, how long has
it been since you were with your wife? You were sure needy last night. You
weren’t shy with either of us.”
reddened. “You’re embarrassing me. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I apologize for my behavior.”
apologize. You were what I needed. No,
Mary needed you, too. It’s just been the
two of us. We’ve kept each other company and we thought we didn’t need a man.
I think we were wrong. We’ve been shut up too long, away from friends
and family. You’re like a breath of
fresh air and we’re glad you’re here.”
“I’m not sure
how long I can stay. I’ll be looking for
a job tomorrow and the next day and keep looking until I find one.”
Caleb’s voice, Mary’s eyes fluttered open. “Oh, my! You weren’t what I expected at all. I’ll give you five stars. Your wife was a lucky
woman.” She paused and corrected herself. “Oh, I meant with you.”
thoughts continue as you ponder your fate.
There were road signs ahead warning traffic to slow and be prepared to stop. Cones in the road caught his attention as the
road narrowed. He continued slowly until a construction worker holding a stop
sign stood in his way. Caleb hated
waiting behind other cars even though he knew they couldn’t proceed until
directed. The forest was spectacular but he didn’t want to look at trees. He
was close enough to the ocean that he should be able to smell the salt in the
air. He had fought the impulse to see
the ocean while he lived on the flatlands but now he was getting anxious to be
came down the road escorting a dozen cars.
The pickup pulled over, waited for the cars to pass and then turned
around. The waiting cars, including
Caleb’s, fell in line behind the pickup and headed towards the ocean.
followed them two miles before they were through the construction zone and back
on the two lane highway. He carefully stayed within the speed limit because
policemen were often waiting to grab impatient drivers and he didn’t want
anything to impede his relentless drive to the ocean
he was anxious to see the ocean again, Caleb was already feeling the need for companionship. Caleb wanted a woman to talk to, to listen
to, and to hold close. Oh, how he missed
in the flatlands reminded him of her.
All the little things that at the time seemed humorous, now took on new
significance. She had always seemed
surprised at seeing dew on roses, the first snowflakes, summer storms as they
rumbled in, and wheat fields waving. And always she stopped and admired newborn
animals with their protective mothers.
Caleb knew she wanted children, lots of them,
to love and to chase after. She dreamed
of teaching them her love of life, her respect for the earth. There was so much she wanted to show them. Right away she had wanted children but Caleb
had balked. “Not yet,” he insisted. “Not until we get this farm up and running.”
regretted saying that. His heart ached
when he thought of her. “There is
nothing left but memories. She’s gone
and my life is over.”
But even as
he thought of her, Caleb was ready to leave the memories behind. He wanted
something to drink, something to drive her out of his mind, at least for
After a few
miles the forest opened and a wide panorama of the ocean lay before him. The ocean stretched from side to side and was
breathtaking. Out in the ocean several
huge stone formations rose a few hundred feet into the air. The waves pounded and splashed against these
rocks before the waves regrouped and rushed to shore.
Caleb said softly. “I’m like that. Life
is always trying to destroy me. I must
be strong and stand like these rocks against the waves. I must remember to return during a storm to
see the waves crashing against these formations. It must be spectacular.”
along the coast until he found a motel that was close to the shore. He selected the last remaining room and was delighted
his room faced the sea. In the morning
at sunrise he had already decided he would walk along the beach and
mediate. Perhaps that would put him in a
more positive frame of mind.
The sun was
still up and it was too early to go to bed. He had been on the road since early
morning and he realized he was famished.
Since he was hungry as well as thirsty, he asked for directions to
several local taverns.
“The Gull’s Nest on the Cliff” was one of the
recommendations and he liked the sound of the name. The parking lot was crowded and inside it was
packed. A couple sitting at a table near the bar looked like they were getting
ready to leave so he quietly claimed their table. He told the waitress he was expecting someone. One person alone at a table was not
acceptable when groups were waiting.
He ordered a
spinach salad, clam chowder in a bread bowl, pan-seared halibut, and a beer on
tap. He ate slowly, relishing the fresh
fare. After his meal he ordered a drink,
whiskey this time. He was ready to start
blotting out memories.
drink arrived two women came in, and looked for two seats at the bar. Nothing was available so they stood by the
wall. Caleb motioned them over. “Ladies, please join me. I hate to drink alone.”
exchanged quick glances. And then one of
the women said, “We’d love to. We don’t
recognize you. Are you just passing
hesitate. “I’ve gone far to roam, but
the sea is my home.”
looked at him oddly as if he was crazy. “Sorry
about that. I like poetry and rhythms.” Before they could respond Caleb had already
pulled out two chairs, ordered two drinks, and had them seated. With a big grin he stated, “I’m Caleb, and I already like it here.”