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The Beach Blossoms

Updated on October 17, 2017
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Verlie Burroughs is a west coast writer from Vancouver Island.

beach pea blossoms
beach pea blossoms | Source

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

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    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 5 years ago from Canada

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

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ..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

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 5 years ago from Canada

      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 profile image

      Juan Enfuego 5 years ago from Alabama

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

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 5 years ago from Canada

      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.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 5 years ago from Canada

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

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      snakeslane,

      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

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 years ago

      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.,

      Derdriu

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 5 years ago from Canada

      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 profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      ..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)

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      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.

    • makusr profile image

      Manoj Kumar Srivastava 6 years ago from India

      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,

      MAKUSR

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      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.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 6 years ago from Reno NV

      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

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      Thank you Eddy, you have a wonderful day too!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

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

      Take care and have a wonderful day.

      Eddy.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

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

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

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

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

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

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      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?

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

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

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      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.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

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

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      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.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      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 profile image

      April Reynolds 6 years ago from Arizona

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

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      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.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      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

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      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 profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      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.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

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

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      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..

      Sunnie

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      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 profile image

      Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

      :(

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