It was a bizarre day to go to the beach. He had been quite set upon not going. Few people would want to go to the beach when it was that cold that the wind felt like a slap in the face. But she was one of the few that would. She who elbowed herself into his life. She who pestered him into resignation. She who wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was stubborn and surly and yet she was the perfect compliment to himself, patient and understanding. She had a depth to her that far surpassed her years. And so here he was. On a beach in the middle of nowhere, so painfully chilly that he had lost feeling in his marred hands a good ten minutes ago and yet it was worth it for the woman that stood before him, wrapped up to the point of immobility in a burgundy scarf and tartan coat - at his insistence if he was ‘going to withstand this nonsense’- they stood at the shore, the tips of their boots licked by a salty current every once in a while, whilst she stared beyond the sea and he stared directly at her – he stopped being discreet months
A mane of honeyed hair framing her petite face like the lioness she is, beyond the possibility of being tamed and yet he loved it. It was wild and free and refused to be withheld and he adored it. Her cute button nose, adorned with a smattering of freckles peered out. Her plump cheeks flushed a rosy pink in contrast to her pale porcelain-like skin. Perfectly groomed eyebrows lay atop distant eyes, that often appeared lost in thought and as he watched, her soft eyelashes beat against her skin and stayed shut as if reliving a memory of the past. A light would go out and his heart would stutter as he watched her stiffen.
Her scarlet lips would purse into a thin line and then a second went by and she would return. Her dark orbs opening again to stare at whatever she saw in the distance. Only those who knew her, truly knew her like he hoped he did, saw past the obvious facade. If you looked close enough, you could see the hooked scar that engraved the bridge of her nose, the discolouration of flesh just above her left brown and stressed blemish on her jaw, the harsh shadows weighing the under-lids of her eyes, given to her by the nightmares that he often nursed her through. The harsh crimson inflammation left on her bottom lip as a product of her insistent, anxious gnawing. Oh yes, he knew her well. Her imperfections did not repel him however, he admired them. He was far from perfect himself. A surly, miserable man, lost after two wars. Sallow, ashen white and stern in his features, slightly less greasy hair than five years ago but disfigured with so many scars, he had lost count after thirty-seven and yet she hadn’t. She had sat with him and asked about each and every one of them, cursing the ‘inhumane brutes’ that had hurt him. She had shed tears whilst he explained the story behind the raw line that ravaged his ribs from above his left breast to the apex of his right hip, and he brushed away her tears, telling her to save them for something truly sad because theirs was not a sad story.
They had reunited two years after the war in rehabilitation and there had begun a tenuous friendship which quickly matured into the relationship they had now. They planned to marry in the spring. An intimate affair it would be, just the two of them and someone to officiate. They were enough for each other. They had agreed to forego children, not only due to her infertility but because although they had healed, there would always be underlying damage lurking beneath their carefully constructed exteriors.
Their life was no ones idea of perfection but it was their bliss and it brought both of them a peace that both yearned for, both survived for. His life had been dealt harshly and yet he wouldn’t change it for anyone because as he stood on this beach in the blistering cold, her hazel orbs peered at him, as though reading the very script of his life and she smiled that break taking smile that she saves for him. Wrinkles soften the corner of her eyes and she returns out of the well that is her thoughts, giving life to him. And so she reaches out to him and he returns the gesture and as they meander away from the cusp of the past and towards reality, he thanks the heavens that he went to the beach.