Wind and Water

0711 - The Wave

He’d been reluctant to bring her to the farm. The prairie was so far from the ocean she loved and confining her to a landlocked life seemed somehow cruel.

The night before they left California, she took him to Half Moon Bay. She stripped off her clothes and while he watched, she stepped into the freezing Pacific.

He was half-convinced she’d be eaten by a shark – a surfer had been attacked just a few days before.

He was worried the undertow would claim her, and their marriage would be over before it had really begun.

But after fifteen minutes she’d come walking back out of the frothy, foamy waves, her skin glowing in the light of the full moon. He’d tried to wrap her in the thick towel they’d brought, but she’d demurred.

“Hold this, please?” she requested, drawing a blue glass bottle from her beach bag.

He did, and she squeezed the saltwater from her dark hair into the waiting vessel.

Then she’d wrapped the towel around them both and pushed him onto the scratchy, wool blanket she’d inherited from her grandfather. “He was a sea captain,” she’d told him once. “He spoke the language of the wind and the waves.”

But in that moment, the only wind was a balmy one blowing across the beach, and the only waves he cared about weren’t the ones crashing a few yards away, but the ones he was riding as she rode him.

* * *

She’d adapted to prairie life more easily than he’d expected. She had a green thumb and her tomatoes won raves at the county fair. So did her strawberry-rhubarb pies. “I never knew,” she told him, “what they meant when they talked about ‘pie plant’ in the Little House books until I came here. To think it was only ever rhubarb!”

At night they’d light citronella candles and sit on the porch and watch the stars wheel around in the sky. Well, she’d watch the stars. He’d watch the wind as it ruffled her hair and her skirts.

The wind was a constant presence on the prairie. He’d warned her about it, told her that in the old days, before electrical hum and technology drowned the sound and provided distractions, people literally went mad from the never-ceasing wind.

But she’d just laughed and teased the nape of his neck. “I like the wind,” she said. “If I close my eyes, it sounds like the ocean.”

* * *

For the most part, their life was happy, but sometimes, he caught her staring at her blue bottle of ocean water, and he knew that a part of her was still in California. He might be her husband, but the ocean was her lover, and always would be.

He asked if she wanted to move back, and she refused.

“This is our home,” she said. “I like it here.”

So, they got a dog, and they added a room for her to write in and a room for him to build model trains in and a room they might, one day, give over to a child.

The day the digital stick blinked PREGNANT, he came home to strawberry-rhubarb pie and homemade black bean chili and cornbread with fresh honey butter, and they went to the soft grass  in the back yard and made love under the stars with the warm wind washing over them, and the stars smiling down.

The day she started cramping and bleeding, the day they knew that room would never be a child’s room, the wind had never been so fierce. He begged and pleaded with her to let him take her to the emergency room, but she’d seen the tiny fetal mass go down the toilet… a lima bean and a splash of blood and said there was nothing emergent about it.

She clutched her blue bottle and wept, and he wrapped himself around her, and wept as well.

* * *

He heard the shatter of glass and went to check on her, expecting that she’d dropped a glass in the middle of the night (she never would turn the lights on when she went to get water). But it wasn’t a glass.

She was standing on the front porch with the door wide open, and the fragments of her blue bottle at her feet.

He heard a rushing sound, but  it wasn’t the wind he was accustomed to.

Rather, it was a wall of water – a giant wave – rushing toward them.

“I would have taken you back to the sea,” he told her.”

“I know,” she said. “But it’s too late. The sea is coming to take me back to it.”

 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Wind and Water by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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