She is walking next to me right now. The setting sun has long since disappeared from view but, in a final blaze of glory, sends gold and orange ribbons spraying into the sky.
Our feet are lapped by the Atlantic Ocean; toes sinking slightly into the damp sand as we stroll along the beach. We barely notice the children being barely noticed by their parents as the last of the day’s light departs.
The steambath heat of the day seems as if it must have been months ago.
Occasionally the fading light catches in her red hair, briefly turning its strands to a glittering, breathtaking, rumpelstiltskin gold. When the late evening ocean breeze blows hair across her face, she’ll wrap it patiently behind an ear; hoping it will obey this time; knowing that it won’t.
At intervals, she grabs at the side of her long, black and orange dress, lifting it away from a sudden wave that refuses to retreat with the ebbing tide.
She is majestic. She is a movie star. She is simply and effortlessly elegant. And I’m walking next to her.
The light is almost gone now. In the distance, two large container ships, stacked high, leave the Savannah River behind, heading out on a voyage to – who knows where. Today I don’t care. On other days, I would wonder about their destinations and the exotic stops they may make along the way. Today, as the darkness consumes them, I have the only distraction I need.
I reach for her hand. She takes it. I like the way our fingers lock together; I always have. After years of practice we instinctively know there’s only one right way. When it isn’t right, when it feels as if one of us has suddenly acquired an extra thumb, unspoken adjustments are made until the perfect fit is achieved. We relax ourselves into the lightest, reassuringly familiar grip.
Meanwhile, the blue-orange sky of earlier in the evening has continued on its daily westward path, chased away by the dark of night.
I glance upward. The dark canopy is slowly but relentlessly being pinpricked by specks of light. One by one they appear until, as if at the flick of some celestial switch, the sky is suddenly decorated by the light of a thousand stars.
We are sitting on a swinging bench toward the rear of the beach. She lays down, placing her head in my lap and looks up at me. I cannot tell if her eyes are open. It doesn’t matter anyway. I’m with my best friend; my wife. Life would struggle to get better than this.
In the distance, fireworks explode; the briefest of flowers blooming against the horizon, adding an exclamation point to the departing day.
Later we shall drift off to sleep, happy in the knowledge that they do still make perfect days.
18th June 2015