The nights were cold, the days hot. I lay in the hole I dug when the winds began to whip around the island and blew my tattered boat back out to sea. I barely escaped, unable to grab anything but a coat and my locket—Marybeth’s locket. I lost the coat when the water beat down on me, the undertow trying to pull me beneath the surface. By the time I made it to dry land, I had lost the locket as well.
But, my hands still worked. They made decent shovels. The trees swayed with the blustery wind as I lifted sand and shells and even a crab from a spot close to the tree line, but far enough off that if one fell, it wouldn’t land on me. Sand and salt burned my eyes, tears streamed down my chheks, more from the loss of the locket, than my stinging face.
I fell once or twice, as the rain pelted down, but I managed to get a decent size hole dug and slid in, away from the gusts. I covered my head with my shirt.
Morning came and the world had calmed, the sun out, casting her brilliant rays on the beach. It warmed my clammy skin. I sat up to view the turquoise sea, its whitecaps crashing along the shoreline. If not for the broken boat lying a few hundred feet from me, its sails tattered, a hole gaped the hull, it would look like any other beach where families would gather and swim, sunbathe; where young men and women would flirt and flaunt and that other F word later on, when they thought no one was looking.
Weak legs carried me to the boat. The hull had more than just a hole in it; it had split in two. Very few personal effects remained. With the boat’s wood I could make a small hut around the hole I had dug. It didn’t stop me from searching for Marybeth’s locket, the one with the picture of her pretty face, her teeth gleaming from parted lips.
“Please, please, please,” I begged a God I never believed in. “Please, let me find it.”
No luck. I dropped to the sand, crying from the loss—the second time I had lost my Marybeth in under a year. The first time an accident claimed her. An icy road, a swerving vehicle, blinding lights and her scream; a scream that haunted me every day of my life. They say she died instantly, but that’s not true. I held her as she breathed her last, her head against my chest, her blood pouring onto me.
The sun beamed down, my skin tingled with the beginnings of sunburn. Trudging to the woods, I longed for Marybeth, for anything except not having her. The locket was all I had left and I didn’t have it anymore., swept away into the sea, lost to me forever.
Days came and went, taking with them any hopes—any desire—of rescue. As I lay under the stars, my hole—widened by my hands and a flat piece of wood—surrounding me, I prayed for another storm, one that would wash me away so I could join Marybeth.
I dozed, woke to the sound of a tree cracking, the whoomph of its collision with the ground shaking the earth close to me. I peeked out. The wind gusted across the island, sucked my breath away and blinded my eyes with darts of sand. I ducked, but the damage was done. Blood seeped from my eyes and—
Then I heard her voice, carried on the wind, a hushed calm in it. Again, I sat up, shielded my face against the coming storm and scanned the beach. Blinking several times I tried to get blood blurry eyes to focus. Wiping them the best I could, I glanced out to the ocean, waves crashed onto the shore, mountainous walls of white and deep blue.
She stood, along the edge of the water, her hair long and flowing, whipping about her face.
“I’m here,” she said, stuck a hand out to me.
Another crack and another tree fell. I scurried from my hole as it landed not too far from it. My head and face blazed with heat from fear and the reality that my hole was too close to the tree line after all.
“It’s okay,” she whispered. Yes, whispered. She motioned and I ran for her, the wind buffeting me from side to side, though she stood still.
I stumbled along the sand, fell at her feet. Saltwater filled my mouth. I spat several times, tried to stand but couldn’t.
“You have to get out of the water,” I yelled, fearful of what would happen if one of the giant waves reached shore before crashing down.
She put a finger to my lips, made a shushing noise and took my hand. Something cool touched my palm. I stared at Marybeth’s locket, my jaw slack, heart thumping. Tears rushed forward. In the instant it took to look at the necklace, she was gone, swept away into the ocean, I assumed.
I stood, bumbled my way back to the hole and stopped short. My heart leaped into my throat and I stared at the hand jutting out from beneath a patch of broken branches and leaves. I touched the back of my head, pulled away fingers wet with blood.
Turning back to the ocean, I saw her standing there again, her arms outstretched.
“It’s time, Henry,” she said. The world calmed. I walked toward Marybeth, my heart lifting with each step.
Taking her hand, we stepped into the water, a great wave crashed down on us and I thanked the God I never believed in for hearing my prayers.