Updated date:

The Beach Blossoms

Verlie Burroughs is a west coast writer from Vancouver Island.

beach pea blossoms

beach pea blossoms

The beach is gay with a wild profusion of beach pea blossoms. Their stocks are thick and green, and the flowers are delicate and pink. In the Northern sunlight they cast a dancing shadow on the coarse white sand blown into dunes at their roots.

Past the dunes, the sky and sea meet in many hues of soft, cool blue. The beach faces north, and the sun moves across the sky in long light rays.

There is a storm-battered six-foot wall of sand, stretching a mile in a curve. From this wall drops a long wide stretch of fine gravel, reaching finally to the ocean, the Pacific ocean.

There is a lone figure on the beach, darting in and out along the tide line like some hungry sea-bird. She is leaping the waves as they wash ashore, playing tag with the ocean

Her name is Eliza. She is the Lighthouse Keeper's wife. She is an adventurous young woman who gets edgy in the confines of the lighthouse routine.

Eliza is bored by the regimentation of the lighthouse duties, a repetitive schedule of weather readings and radio reports.

She is tired of the whine of the diesel generators.

But her duties are simple, to cook meals for John.

John works night shift, so Eliza has whole long days to herself while he sleeps.

Over the years she has developed a passion for beach combing. She has found a secluded beach far from home. A beach where she would like to live if she could.

Eliza has been walking for hours, first up along the top of the beach, and now heading back at low tide. She stops to rest, looking out over the water, hoping to see something; a boat or a whale, a seal or a sail.

The sea and sky are empty. As she turns her gaze back to the beach she catches a green flash out of the corner of her eye. Her senses quicken, and she sets off in a run toward the sparkling green object.

"Looks, like a big one!" she says to herself. "Man it looks huge if it's all in one piece!"

As she approaches the glistening orb she gives a shout of delight. Yes! It is a big one as she had hoped.

The glass ball lays on the sand like some prehistoric dinosaur egg. As she leans over to pick it up she expects to see it crack open revealing some carnivorous monster.

It is so big she can barely get her arms around it. She smiles triumphantly at her prize and examines it for cracks and flaws.

"Perfect!" She loads the glass ball carefully into a net bag which hangs from her shoulder. Then, with a sense of accomplishment she swings herself around and climbs the steep sand up to the top of the beach where the forest starts.

"You are a beauty," she whispers to the glass ball as she pulls it out of the bag.

She is standing in a little hollow beneath ancient trees. In the dim filtered light her eyes rest on a remarkable sight. "And you are number two hundred and thirty-five."

She is standing knee high in glass balls of all sizes, filling the hollow entirely.

"And you are the biggest yet!" she places the green ball in with the rest.

Then in a flash she is up again, and off down the beach, heading for home while the quick day edges on into evening. She walks fast, full of energy.

As she walks she thinks of Leon. Leon used to live by the river, he was a painter. He had a kayak in which he travelled the coast making sketches and water colors.

She met him one day at the river where she had to cross it to get home. There was no bridge. On that day when she came out of the woods Leon was standing there. They had both been startled.

She had rushed off for home. They didn't say goodbye.

They had continued to meet secretly, briefly, haphazardly, but she didn't think of these memories anymore. It was the memory of their first meeting that still burns brightly in her heart.

As she walks up the last hill to the lighthouse she savours the fresh evening air, and the lonely sound of the wind through the trees, like voices murmuring.

As she rounds the corner a familiar dull roar greets her and her steps grow heavy on the porch steps.

The screen door slams behind her. She kicks off her boots. The house is quiet, sound proofed with double glass windows to keep out the fierce winds. John is out doing a weather.

She can see by the clock he will be gone for twenty minutes. She is glad. She unlocks her desk and pulls out a large black notebook. She digs in the leaf of the back cover and pulls out a list of glass ball findings and systematically records today's find.

As she closes the book a page slips out onto the floor. She picks it up. It is a poem written years ago. It reads:

There is a lull,

the day is soft,

the water laps gently,

the seagulls call,

the creek runs,

and I wait.

She recognizes Leon's handwriting. She carefully places the poem back in the book.

It is to her like a faded flower, pressed flat, and yellowing with time.

When John comes in she is busy preparing dinner.

"Hello," he calls, "Did you have a nice walk?"

"Great," she replies, and recounts the story of finding another glass ball.

"Ah clever girl." He hugs her small frame until her neck hurts.

They spend the evening this way: talking about the weather, the storm, the darkened somber mood.

They drink wine. They eat dinner. He goes in and out for the weathers. She realizes too late that she has drank too much wine and as usual in this state she thinks of Leon, but this time it is a painful memory.

It is summer. They swim together in the ocean far out to the rocks where the Sea Lions sun themselves. She is not a swimmer, but he is guiding her along with his voice, telling her now to float, now to take a deep breath.

Swimming beside him makes her feel brave.

The ocean is so cold that she is shaking violently when they get back to the beach. After they are dressed she is still shaking, and Leon holds her against him for a long time until the chills subside.

That was the last time she saw him. The coast guard found his kayak near a steep beach that stretches a mile in a curve.

© 2011 Verlie Burroughs


Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on March 26, 2018:

Thank you Peg! I almost forgot about this page, appreciate you bringing it back, so sweet of you.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on March 25, 2018:

Oh my! How could I have missed this delightful beach tale? I love the part about the hollow filled with glass balls. I remember when these were easily found along the shore or in collectible shops.

Reading through the string of comments brings to mind people we've known who've come and gone over the years. Sort of like Eliza and Leon. Loved this trip to the shores and your poetry within.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on July 28, 2012:

Hello epi, thank you for your beautiful compliment. Hope you have a great weekend.

epigramman on July 28, 2012:

..simply beautiful and breathtaking - I had to return to this classic - which like fine wine and great art, just gets better with every read .....

lake erie time ontario canada 8:17pm

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on July 28, 2012:

Hello Juan Enfuego, the green glas balls are japanese fishing floats that wash ashore here on the west coast. People find them when they are out 'beachcombing'. I should add a picture. Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my story.

Juan Enfuego from Alabama on July 28, 2012:

Wow that was a very deep and interesting story. I still wonder about the glass spheres though.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on July 27, 2012:

Thank you Mar for your lovely and welcome appreciation. I'm glad you like Eliza. She is a composite character made up of several people I know, with a little of myself thrown in. I don't have a sequel (yet) but I do have another Eliza story written around the same time. Hmm, that's an idea! You have a peaceful evening too my friend.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on July 27, 2012:

Oh my gosh Derdriu, I am so sorry it's taken me seven months to thank you for your beautiful comment!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on July 27, 2012:


How in the world I found this... shopping around your "hood", loving the title and absolutely "struck gold" in my discovery.

My girlfriend can weave a story that hooked me from start to finish with a demand for that sequel "yesterday". Eliza is a beautiful character and you have painted her with a complex stroke...

Voted UP & UABI... I need to go exploring more, I can see...

Have a peaceful evening. Hugs, Maria

Derdriu on December 13, 2011:

Snakeslane, What a compelling, fascinating, intriguing story about the lighthouse keeper's wife! In particular, I like the effect of poetry mixed with prose and of the narrator moving in focus from a distance to right alongside Eliza.

Thank you for sharing, etc.,


Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on December 02, 2011:

Holy epigramman you sure have connections in the writing world, your facebook page must be a gazillion pages by now, amazing you keep track with all the posts you do. Sorry I am not on facebook (well I guess I am now sort of). Thanks for kind words of encouragement, so happy you enjoyed the beach story.

epigramman on December 02, 2011:

..this is such an epic write and it's all here in my cinematic mind - I must post this most beautiful piece of poetic narrative to my Facebook page with a direct link back here - what can I say I am speechless - love the title too - perhaps my favorite piece by you - what a masterwork!

lake erie time ontario canada 6:33am (I think this piece hit close to home because of where I live and what I see or imagine each day)

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 23, 2011:

Nice to see you makusr. Thank you for reading another story. I'm glad you enjoy the photos, I like these too. Appreciate you taking time to comment.

Manoj Kumar Srivastava from India on November 23, 2011:

snakeslane, I was just out for two and a half days and there is so much to catch now. Your photos look beautiful and always complement your stories which in this case is somewhat sad. Thanks for sharing your sentiments in a masterly way. Powerful story nevertheless. Do take care.

With warm wishes,


Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 22, 2011:

Hi jhamann, thanks for visit. I haven't written any new short fiction in a while. This one goes back years. It's been re-written so many times I've lost track. But this is the first time I've published it or any of my writing. I did not get a chance to spend my life as a writer, like most people I had to work at a real job. If I start to write new stories and they are considered good, I will be pretty excited.

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on November 22, 2011:

I think that you make it look so easy. I have been struggling with the whole short fiction business, I may just stick with poetry. But your story was so beautyful and well written. Good to read some new stuff. Jamie

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 22, 2011:

Thank you Eddy, you have a wonderful day too!

Eiddwen from Wales on November 22, 2011:

Maybe sad but also beautiful. Amazing!! I now look forward to reading many more by you.

Take care and have a wonderful day.


Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 21, 2011:

Thank you mckbirdbks, I shall give it my best shot.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 21, 2011:

Hey Rosemay, I am happy to hear that, and always happy to see you.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 21, 2011:

Thank you anglwu, you are a writer's dream come true.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 21, 2011:

snakeslane each story you share is just a bit better than the last and they started out good. You are going to amaze us, aren't you?

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on November 21, 2011:

haha please do call me Rosemay, I have put up with Rosemary for 61 years and am a little bored with it.

anglnwu on November 21, 2011:

What a lovey sad story. Wonderful story-telling technniques--love your juxtaposition of poem and flashbacks. You're quite a master at wordcrafting. Rated up.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 21, 2011:

That "wondering what would be if?" is exactly what gives birth to a story April Reynolds, thankyou for that comment.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 21, 2011:

Thank you Hyphenbird. I sure appreciate your giving the story such a in depth read! Eliza is a character loosely based on at least half a dozen amazing women I've been fortunate to have known in my life. I use her in most of my short fiction.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 21, 2011:

Thank you Rosemay (I'm going to keep calling you that even if it is wrong, I like it). I did live in a lighthouse and it was lonely. But this story is fiction, inspired by that theme, and the unforgettable beauty of this West coast setting.

April Reynolds from Arizona on November 21, 2011:

What a hauntingly beautiful story, I think her story hits something inside all of us, a wonder of what might have been if...

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on November 21, 2011:

Eliza (lovely name) is a lonely and fragile soul. I see her longing for romance and beauty but in a life of reality with a burly rough, though goodhearted man. The poem is beautiful and the story tender and melancholy.

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on November 21, 2011:

This is a lovely but very sad story Snakes. I love they you refer to the past in little titbits. Living in a lighthouse would be awfully lonely.

The images are beautiful

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 20, 2011:

I guess it's a girl writing thing VinayaGhimire, a way to creat tension perhaps? This story was written so long ago, I don't think it is anything that would interest me to write about now.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on November 20, 2011:

I always love you blending poems and pictures in your stories. So, Eliza is torn between past (Leon) and present (John) I don't know why women characters, in many stories, have to deliberate on their past affair when their life is on a steady course at the present. LOL

It is wrong to generalize, but when I was studying creative writing many girls came with similar kind of stories.

Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 20, 2011:

Thank you Sunnie Day. You are always so appreciative. That means a lot to me.

Sunnie Day on November 20, 2011:

Oh Snake what a great story. You have written this with so much skill and flare..I loved the way you moved in and out of the story..weaving a tale of heartbreak. I feel sorry for this woman..she is very lonely..hangs on to maybe the one and only love that she may have..Wonderful story of love and loss..


Verlie Burroughs (author) from Canada on November 20, 2011:

Thank you for commenting Shadesbreath. Yes it is sad. I did that on purpose. I don't know why. Having someone killed half way through is an easy way to keep it short and sweet I guess. Looking at it now I'm glad I left it open. Body not found. Eliza cashes in her glass ball collection and moves to city where she finds Leon. John can carry on, meets a pretty hiker girl and all live happily ever after?

Shadesbreath from California on November 20, 2011:


A lovely story, if not a happy one. I feel sorry for all three of them; none get what they deserve.

Related Articles