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Footprints in the Sand: A Short Story

With the darkest of my thoughts transferred to written words at times I can see the light.

Footprints washed away...

Footprints washed away...

Carol hugged the collar of her coat close to her chin; desperate to bury her cold ears in the warmth of the soft furry hood. Wisps of ebony hair dampened from the sea air clung to her face. Her pale dry lips were caked in salt, begging her tongue to lick them. Her hands dry and scaled, coloured red with the harsh biting wind dug deep into the worn pockets of her old blue coat. Carol wriggled her toes in her boots, wishing she'd worn an extra pair of socks.

Carol loved to walk along the beach ever since she was a little girl. Picking brightly coloured shells and unusual shaped stones. Treasures from the ocean floor. The glorious sound of the white surf crashing on the shore. The golden sands stretching in front of her, like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. Carol would pretend she was Dorothy. Clicking her heels to go home. These days Carol mostly liked the solitude. The wind had perfected the art of numbing her thoughts and the ocean washed over her like a calming wave drowning all the madness out. She walked unburdened; a sense of freedom in her soul. Carol loved the blue of the horizon. The odd peeping sleek head of a curious seal. The lone call of a seagull. Carol's thoughts drifted to the billions of grains of sand under her feet. Wondering where all those grains came from or what they once might have been. A fabulous Castle from long ago with majestic stone walls and corner towers reaching to the clouds or a magnificent tomb an elaborate shrine to a loved one. She stood, surrounded by solace, a single moment forever hers. Thoughts of bills, the mortgage, the fact her husband Stephen and herself were more like strangers than husband and wife. The job she hated and a boss she could easily kill without a trace of remorse. A single silver blade thrust deep into his cruel black heart. She'd claim self defense on the grounds he was steeling her sanity. Surely her sanity was worth more than a fat ignorant sod, who stank of cigars and stale beer. He was a bastard. He made her life hell.

The wind tried to bite Carols face, her cheeks stung and she thought about going home. It seemed like a long time since she'd been home. She must be gone a while. These regular walks were becoming more and more of a habit recently. Lately her walks on the lonely beach had been disturbed by an intruder. Carol couldn't remember exactly when the intrusion had started. She just happened to notice footprints in the sand that seemed to follow alongside her. Funny! It should bother her, but it didn't. The footprints seemed familiar, in a strange sort of way. Carol stopped and stared out to sea. The dark blueness of the ocean beckoned to her, she looked back to the defined footprints beside her. She gazed along the stretch of white sandy beach, only her prints were visible. Glancing to her side the second set of prints seemed to mock her, almost with defiance. Clearly outlined in the sand despite the wind. Carol looked back out to sea. Standing there for a long time, not sure what she was looking for; if indeed there was anything she had ever really looked for in her whole entire life.

In the distance Carol heard a faint shout, quickly snapped and swallowed by the rising wind. Carol gazed back down the beach, shielding her eyes with a cold red hand she peeked through her frozen fingers. A dark figure loomed in the distance. A stride Carol recognized, quickly ate the space between them. Snatched words became clearer and her name echoed in her ears. Shoulders hunched forward and his head down braced against the cold air. Carol wondered why Stephen was here. He hated the sand. Said he couldn't stand the way it got every where. He never walked with her despite numerous invitations.

''I must be late,'' Carol mused, not really caring. Tea time perhaps, she thought, or some other mundane chore. Bracing herself for his harsh words, she waited.

''Carol.'' Her name bounced along the sands. ''Carol.'' She didn't answer. Pulling her coat tighter she continuing to stare out to sea. Stephen called her name again and again, hurtling up the beach. His long grey coat flapped around his body, wrapping itself about his thighs. Stephen always had strong muscular legs. A sudden memory of playing tennis on the green stole into her thoughts. They were young and laughing in the summer sunshine. Carol was never any good at tennis. Stephen always let her win. The loser, Stephen, always paid for lunch. Hot-dogs with the full works and cold cans of cola. The winner, Carol, always kissed him tenderly and whispered in his ear that she loved him. The memory faded, lapsed deep down where all the other forgotten memories had faded. Lost forever, shadows of a former life.

Then he was beside her, his eyes searching the horizon, calling her name. His large hands cupped against chapped split lips weathered by salty air. Carol gazed up into Stephen's face. A handsome face. His greying temples whiter than she remembered, his eyes hollow and his pale cheeks stained by hundreds of tears. He stood right where the footprints were. They fitted perfectly. Stephen's footprints.

Stephen called one last time. A heart wrenching guttural scream rode on the wind and her name disappeared out to sea. He turned, his thinning shoulders slumped; he walked slowly away a defeated man. Carol felt a sudden tear threaten to slide from the corner of her eye, but she knew it wouldn't fall, it never did. Turning she walked down the beach. In the distance she heard a lone seagull call.

Carol often came here and walked the sands. Mostly for a little solitude. She liked the way the ocean washed over her. A calming wave drowning all the madness out.

© 2011 Gabriel Wilson


Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on August 06, 2019:

Thank you for reading :)

JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on August 05, 2019:


Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on August 02, 2018:

Thanks for reading Sue and I really appreciate your comment :)

Suzanne Angwin from Australia on July 30, 2018:

A good story, well write and very imaginative.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on July 18, 2018:

Thank you Rachana, I really appreciate you reading it :)

Rachana on July 18, 2018:

This story is very good written

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on April 05, 2013:

Hi khmazz, thank you for reading; your time is very much appreciated :)

Kristen Mazzola from South Florida on April 04, 2013:

Wonderfully written, great story line! I love it!

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on August 02, 2012:

But alas, it is only when we have experienced true grief that we appreciate true happiness. Tanx for your time Mr Love Doctor :)

Mr Love Doctor from Puerto Rico on August 02, 2012:

Somehow I kept picturing a rowboat, upended paint peeling in the sere grass of the white sand drift, like from a Winslow Homer painting. Maybe you can write another chapter where Carol rows to their special spot and finds a piece of what they were? Don't leave us with nothing but grief! Excellent Hub, voted up.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on April 11, 2012:

Perhaps I need to have a look at that. Thanks xstatic :)

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on April 11, 2012:

Good writing here! The sense of mystery, her apparent rejection of Stephen's approach. I agree that more would be good for this story.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on June 02, 2011:

I love the way everyone uses their imagination; you're a cool bunch.

Tanx for reading Happyboomernurse. I appreciate your time :)

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on June 01, 2011:

A haunting, beautiful, well-written tale. You paint pictures with your words, and went deep into the psyche of a troubled woman. At first I thought she was homeless, but her solitude, tattered clothes and totured thoughts seemed even sadder, knowing she felt so trapped and unhappy in her marriage.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on May 20, 2011:

Tanx for reading and for your time :)

MsRefusenik from LaGrange, IL on May 20, 2011:

Nicely done. I like how it was subtle and didn't try to knock you over making its points, The descriptions of the external scene and weather and her internal weather are very good. You really do have a gift.

TheJulian from Georgia on May 17, 2011:

I feel like I feel your language and identify. Not a bad story.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on May 15, 2011:

Tanx for reading.

Cragganmore Kid on May 15, 2011:

I loved this, brilliantly written and loved the twist - a must in any good short story!

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on May 09, 2011:

Tanx for reading; I appreciate your time and your comments. Go steady.

Elena@LessIsHealthy on May 09, 2011:

Awesome and one vote up! A great hub.

PierAllegro from Toronto, Canada on May 07, 2011:


Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on May 06, 2011:

Cheers; tanx for reading.

celeBritys4africA from Las Vegas, NV on May 05, 2011:

I like your hub, I am one of your fan now.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on April 29, 2011:

Tanx QudsiaP1 for stopping by.

QudsiaP1 on April 28, 2011:

Beautifully written, you are a very talented writer.

You do great justice to each of your descriptions.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on April 28, 2011:

I guess all of us share a lot more with each other than we'll ever know. Keep well and go steady.

Annie Fenn from Australia on April 27, 2011:

Wow, what a great read. Scary thing for me, I think I might be Carol!!! I look forward to reading more.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on April 11, 2011:

I like to think that too. Tanx for popping in.

Brinafr3sh from West Coast, United States on April 10, 2011:

Beautiful, I like this. Foot prints in the sand, we are never alone. I like beaches also. :) (vote up and beautiful)

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on April 10, 2011:

Tanx for reading.

livingsimply from Isle of Arran, Scotland on April 10, 2011:

love this, especially your descriptions.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on March 31, 2011:

Tanx Becky Puetz; I hope I can deliver.

Becky from Oklahoma on March 31, 2011:

You are a talented writer. This is a great story, though it leaves me wanting more. Thanks for an awesome read.

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