I was surprised to find her in my beach hut. I was curious. “Who are you? Can I help you? How did you get in here?” I quickly gave up as every question was answered simply with: “I don’t know yet”
I had no reason to disbelieve her, but it was odd nonetheless. I glanced around and all seemed to be in its place. The sun shone, the sea birds circled above and the waves lapped gently on the shore. I turned back to her and we stood quietly holding each other’s gaze. There was little that was remarkable about her. She wore torn jeans, which had probably cost her a fortune. I could have done that for nothing with my craft knife but that’s just me, ever thrifty. She was too thin, her skin pale and her hair dull; she needed looking after. Just her eyes told a different story, a beautiful green blue, clear and shining with youth. Mine, however, once a deep dark brown were now smudged with age and tiredness.
I went about my usual business, I put two deckchairs outside my beach hut and retrieved some cups.
I offered her the opportunity to sit in the sun and have some tea with me. Both of which she gratefully accepted. She had been watching me since I first found her, but now she shifted her gaze to the tea, looking deep into the cup as if hoping to find something.
The morning turned to afternoon. We had sat comfortably side by side, looking out to sea, drinking tea and eating sandwiches and cake. The time went quickly, I did most of the talking. I chatted on about the weather, my children, my garden – everything actually; I may have told her my whole life story. She nodded and smiled all the while just making the odd encouraging comment.
She seemed to get brighter as the day progressed. Was I imaging it or had her smile become well… ‘dazzling’ is the only way I can put it. That was not the only change. Why had I not noticed the now golden glow of her complexion and hair? Her beauty took my breath away. She caught me staring and said: “I have something important to tell you.” She continued her eyes locked on mine, “I met someone who knows you well and misses you. He has been away for over 20 years now. He understands why you are angry with him for leaving you with no goodbye. Can you forgive him?”
I understood then. “Yes,” I said. I raised no objections or put up any resistance. We sat in silence, hand in hand, watching the sea do its work of turning pebbles into sand grains. Yes, it all made sense now.
The paramedics that turned up later found me cold and still in my deckchair, my arm draped across the empty one next to me, a soft white feather in my hand.