Pearl pink and pale yellow reflected in her wet eyes with every step she took. The salty smell of fish and chips and seawater drifted around like the boats on the still water. It was just the three of them. Sister. Brother. Mother. Like it had been for seven years. The colours in the sky were mixing, changing. A new member was to join.
He watched as the plane left a crisp white path on the blue banner. They were to welcome a strange face. Strange eyes. Strange hands. Adults though they were, inside, small children shrunk.
Seven years echoed in her thoughts. Seven. Now a new love had washed into her life, into her children’s life. It was time to open the door to him. She had told her children this tonight, and as the afternoon fell away, they sat staring silently at the shimmering, rolling waves.
Pearl pink and pale yellow reflected in her wet eyes. Couldn’t these colours stay like this forever?
I met Kym at AA. She was a slim woman, with sharp cheekbones, dark velvety skin, and a soft smile. I was truly stunned by her. It wasn’t until she told her story that I remembered where we were, who I was, and what foolish thoughts I was having. Oh, nothing untoward, but the line, would you like to join me for a coffee, did cross my mind. Of course, a woman like her would never look twice at a man like me. I wasn’t entirely unattractive, nor was I vain. I had blond hair, the colour of dry sand, swept to the side, as if by the ocean breeze. My arms were thin like the legs of a heron, but not strong, and my skin was pale and freckled. It was my inside appearance to fear. I had been sober for only four weeks. My wife left me three years ago, along with my children. I was a wreck, always had been. Of course that was the very reason I was at AA.
The next week, as I poured myself a coffee before the meeting, Kym approached and asked my name.
I gulped. “John.”
Do you know what she did next?
For one year after that day, Kym and I shared a coffee on Haven Beach every twice Sunday. We talked, laughed, shared. I never plucked up the courage to ask her out on a date. We weren’t dating, you see, we were supporting one another as friends, but I felt more on the receiving end of it. Though I never really had her love, she gave me more joy than I had felt in a long time. Kym…she saved me.
Then one day, a man, a nice fellow in the restaurant business, proposed to Kym, and as I watched her float down the aisle in white satin, a wonderful thought drifted by. Could this woman have been sent to me as my guardian angel?
I still visit Haven Beach with a coffee. Only these days I’m standing on my own.
I heard that story once. The one where the man dreams he’s walking along a beach, and is puzzled as to why there is only one set of footprints when God told him he’d always walk alongside him in the lowest points of his life. And then God told him that when there was only one set of footprints, he was carrying the man. It was a fairly young guy on a bus that told me, years ago. I never thought much of it. Beach. Footprints. God. Dream. Too much philosophy for me.
But now watching a young man carrying someone who looks old enough to be his father on a hot beach in Cyprus, that story doesn’t seem so far fetched. Laughter dances from them, the sea breeze whispering through their hair. As they get further away, one set of footprints is branded in the sand, a symbol of hope for me to think on. A woman to my right blasts down a phone, her face etched with concern. She groans deeply and throws it as far as she can.
“Are you alright?” I go over and ask her, the sand hot under my feet.
“What’s it to you old lady?” she snarls back, covering her face in her manicured hands. She sits cross legged on a pink towel, her white leather handbag speckled with sand.
“Who was that on the phone?” I press, beginning to doubt my usefulness.
She shakes her head and as her hands come from her face, I notice tears rolling down her tanned cheeks. She looks up with sad blue eyes.
“Tell me about it.”