I would have written of me on my stone: I had a
lover's quarrel with the world. -Robert Frost
And, the picture-
She ignored his voice, keeping her face to the water. From a distance, the sea appeared calm, serene, but the closer she got, the more she could hear the crash of waves below.
A wooden pole stuck out from the rocks, completely out of place. Helen put her hand on the walking stick and sat next to it. Unshed tears burned her eyelids.
Eyes wide, she leaned her head against the wood. A small indent had been carved into it and her hand fit there just so. She could almost feel his hand on it. Almost.
“You’re not being fair. Especially coming here.”
“Don’t speak to me of fairness, Eli.” She didn’t shift to look at him. She spoke to the sea.
“Oh, of course. ‘Life isn’t fair’. That’s your answer for everything.”
“Well, it’s true.”
He moved to sit beside her. Helen fought the urge to push him away. Instead, she closed her eyes, releasing the tears she’d held.
“It may be true,” he said with a sigh, “but, it isn’t an excuse for not living.”
Waves rumbled below her and Helen listened to their music. When she felt his hand on her bare neck, she shivered.
“Finding new love doesn’t mean you’re leaving the old one.”
“Well, isn’t that profound.”
His hand moved from her neck and caressed her back, sending a new round of shivers down her spine.
He pulled his hand away and she regretted it immediately.
“I can’t be in love now. It’s too soon.”
Helen leaned forward. A hundred feet below, angry surf collided with the sharp, ragged cliff. A wave of nausea rolled over her as an image of his broken body forced its way into her mind.
“Why do you come here? It isn’t good for you.” His hand returned to her back, drawing long circles that chilled her.
“I don’t want to forget.”
He sighed. Moving his hand down her arm, he entwined their fingers. “I think it’s time.”
A voice called from behind her. “Helen?”
She tightened her grip on Eli’s hand. Fresh tears coursed down her cheeks.
“You love him.”
The breeze shifted, bringing with it the scent of cedar that followed Charles everywhere. The smell enveloped her in warmth and her body turned without a thought. Helen took in the sight of him, broad shoulders, tan face, blonde hair. He smiled.
“Come down, you’re getting soaked.”
Helen’s hand felt empty. She sat alone. With a tug, she took the worn stick from its place. She held it high, then tossed it to the sea. Turning her back, Helen made her way to Charles.
“What were you doing?” he asked, encircling her in his arms.