By Mary DeWllde
The seaside resort town had a feel about it that is molded by salt air and the sound of sea gulls conversing. Souvenir shops crowded with tacky sailor statues and glittered seashells you wouldn’t think to buy any other time but seems appropriate now. Clothing boutiques coquettish offering an escape for moms that had the luxury of being alone for a moment or teenage daughters that made it known they couldn’t survive another day without the new outfit they found. Families escaping from their over scheduled life to experience family time strolled the street. Moms and dads each holding one of the kid’s hands at the same time trying to negotiate the promised saltwater taffy while juggling totes of sand toy. Teenage girls in shorts with firm tanned legs, midriffs exposed that the middleaged women tried to ignore looking at because it only reminded them of what once. Couples, holding hands and showing on their faces a sense of expectancy of what’s to come or on some, satisfied smiles from their early check ins.
Walking alone, she didn’t stand out from the group of families and couples but if you took more than a glance you would see there was a sadness that really didn’t fit into this scene of holidays and celebrations. She wasn’t old enough to be classified as a single older woman alone for a moment while her grandkids shopped. She also didn’t have the look of the typical manicured, highlighted and styled tourist that was the norm. No, something was different. There was a faded beauty about her showing something had stripped her of the radiance and happiness she once emitted. Her bag wasn’t from a new purchase, it looked used and but well preserved. She cradled it in her arms. The bag held memories of the time he accompanied her to one of the boutiques, saw her admire the bag and later surprised her with it as a gift. The bag also held inside part of those memories. She was giving it the last walk of memories that only the parcel inside would appreciate.
At the end of town there was a steep wooden stair case that they had walked down together so many times before. They too had held hands and had that knowing smile. This was their last walk together, this was the promise walk she had promised him. It would finish with his ashes being set free in the waves he surfed and played in for so many years. His ashes were in a glass urn that was blown at his favorite glass shop.
As she came to the stairs, she took out the urn as she stopped to look out over the ocean and feel the salty air blow through her hair. Deep in her thoughts and memories she didn’t notice the teenage boys rushing toward the stairs. The boys were jostling and pushing each other, laughing with only the energy that teenage boys have. The boy in front looked back to laugh at his friend’s comment as he took the first step. She was on the second step. It seemed like slow motion as his shoulder rammed into her back. Her precious cargo was thrown out of her arms to crash down the steps. Pieces of glass and heavy ashes fanned down and between the stairs.
The boys were immediately apologetic and concerned making sure she wasn’t hurt. A couple of the boys were trying to pick up the broken glass, not realizing what had just broken. The woman always had a compassionate heart, that was one of the reasons for their sweet marriage. She didn’t want the boys to feel the guilt of what they had just accidentally done. She told them to go, she was fine. She sat down of the first step, looking at what was left of the spilled ashes, wishing the wind to take them to the beach and waves he so loved.