The bench was a favourite. Set back a little from the edge of the dock, its weathered grey timbers formed a gently sloped seat with a suggestion of curve for the back. It was surprisingly comfortable.
He sat there, looking across the bay. Bright afternoon light glistened diamonds from every ripple on the sapphire sea. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped desultorily at the moisture that pooled in his eyes. Perhaps it was the brilliance of the sun.
She was beside him. “You look so handsome sitting there…”
He smiled gently. She always called him handsome and he responded as ever with, “How could it ever be different, married to the most beautiful girl in the world…?”
Isla smiled, an inner light illuminating eyes as green as the Scottish fens from whence she came. Beautiful in youth, beautiful carrying the fruit of their loins, beautiful in her middle age, the prime years of her life, and maintaining a radiant beauty even as she entered the evening of her existence, he had loved her for all that time. He’d known from the very first moment of meeting they were meant to be. For him, there had never been anyone else, never a sideways glance. As was the case with her.
He spoke gently, “Our Anna’s about to present us with a great-grandchild…”
“Yes, darling, I know.”
“You do…?” He seemed surprised.
“Gosh yes. Don’t you remember telling me about it? They’ve had a peek and know she’s a little girl?” She paused a moment, a smile of recollection passing fleetingly across her face. “It’s so different to the way it was in our day.”
The glare of the sun must have been especially bright today. He fumbled a little with the hankie as he wiped again at the moisture welling in his eyes.
His thoughts, too, were on the decades they’d shared. “It was a wonderful time: Our life… our family …” His face creased in thought. “Even the bumpy ride we had at times with David, I guess.”
“Yes,” she chuckled, “and look at him now, head of an iconic organisation that does so much good. Darling, he really is like you. And don’t forget, I knew from your mother that you, too, were a bit of a wild hawk as a child!”
He gave her a look of mock annoyance before laughing softly at the memory.
They were at peace in the sun, warm with the spring weather, warm too, with the pleasure of their own company. They had married half a century earlier, lived their life and raised their family in this lovely bayside village.
“This was always our favourite place.” He proposed here, so formal, on bended knee, intent on doing it right. But it all came unstuck when she squealed, “Yes!” and threw herself at him. Picking themselves up again from the tangled heap in which they found themselves, he’d managed, “Well, I hope our life together is a bit less dramatic!”
They laughed together at the memory. A wee drop crept down one cheek and once more he wiped it away with his hankie. The glare of that jolly sun…
They chatted away for some time, he had no idea how long, until she looked again into his eyes. “I must go…”
He turned to respond. Already her ephemeral shape was fading. He thought he heard her words, “I love you…,” but was not entirely sure. Perhaps it was wishful thinking or the wash of the sea against the pier. And then he knew. He could hear her voice, quite plainly, “Darling, you only have to think of me…”
“Oh Isla, I know. I know…”
The moisture swelled then welled over, runnels tracking down his cheeks. On this occasion, he allowed it to happen. He didn’t think the glare of the sun ever before had such an effect…
Do you have special memories or moments like this? Would you like to share them?