At The Beach by Anna Jordan

Josh Jones

“Tomorrow we should go down there,” she said. It was only two blocks from the house, and they never went.

“Where’s there?” he asked.

“To the beach,” she said. The waves were calling to her. Crashing her name across the sand. She heard them from the open window in the kitchen. She saw them from the porch.

She would wear her yellow spotted sundress, the one with the petal sleeves making her arms look like bright white flower stems. She found a pinkish umbrella at a garage sale last week for only fifty cents. It didn’t have even one broken tie. What a girl she would be under that umbrella, pastel yellow under pastel pink. She longed to drink sweet lemonade from a thermos and lick fudgesicles like the kids. It would be just hot enough to feel refreshed by the chilled chocolate on her tongue. He could bury her toes and spill sand down her legs like he used to. She could watch the grains stick like stubble to her sunscreen-coated skin, SPF 50. He would need SPF 50 too. The sand might stick to his hands, but he would wipe them on his pants. Tomorrow she wouldn’t even care if he got sand in his pockets.

It would be like a honeymoon, a vacation right here in real life. A trip away from the melanoma and the lymphoma and the other –omas that make retirement feel like work. She wouldn’t talk about the prescriptions or how they might have to put the cat down. She wouldn’t tell him that she was thinking of baking some sweet potatoes for dinner or that they were running low on milk. They might not even talk at all. Just sit there at the edge of the ocean; their feet plunged into the sand.

“So what do you think?” she asked.

But he wasn’t listening. His mind had wandered away, back to the summer he and his brothers gathered up their gear at night and snuck down there after the spill. They lit the gas puddles on fire and played beach baseball, the home plate illuminated by a flickering glow. The sand still smelled like those nights to him. Even sixty years later.

“You’ll need to wear a hat,” he said.

“I know,” she said. “I will.”

Anna Jordan received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT. She is a writer and adjunct professor living in Santa Barbara, California with her husband and three small children.