LUCY COMES CALLING

By Sarita Leone


I never pictured myself as the “summering” type. You know the kind I’m talking about. We’ve all seen them. The wealthy, snobbish, wears-only-designer-labels sort of woman who would rather brush her teeth with powdered parakeet poop than appear in public without her “face” on. That type.

But here I am, spending the summer on Cape Cod . North Eastham, to be exact. Although I still don’t get the concept of north any-east but it seems like I’m the only one who thinks the town’s name is odd so I’m keeping my mouth shut. At least for now.

It’s not as if we’re rubbing elbows with ... well, you-know-who or anything, though. The house we’ve rented for the next four weeks is considerably less than a compound or estate. To tell the truth, it’s a seen-better-days-but-can-still-fleece-the-tourists Granny-type house. Very old. Ancient, almost.

“Hey, have you seen my spread sheets? And my Blackberry? I hope to hell we haven’t left them behind – I had them on the table by the door, and – ”

“And I picked them up and put them in the Rover,” I finished. I turned as I spoke, and when I saw him standing at the kitchen sink with a Heineken in his hand my heart did a little flip. It annoyed me, this flipping heart. After sixteen years of marriage, my heart still reacted when my eyes found him.

Traitor. Betrayed by my own heart.

“Right there,” I said, pointing to the pile beside my canvas tote. His love affair with his spreadsheets and that stupid little device were partially responsible for this situation we were in. They were a good part of the reason that we were spending this time at the beach.

“That’s my girl,” said Jim. His crooked grin made my heart lurch yet again. “Want a beer? They’re still cold, from the cooler we packed. Want one?”

We. As if he had a little mouse in his pocket, and they had packed the cooler.

“No thanks. I’ve got too much to do.”

He closed the space between us. I could smell the intriguing scent of him, a cross between pine trees and sandalwood.

His golden hair caught the sun that came in through the wavy glass window. There was no disputing it, my husband’s outward appearance had barely changed during our time together. He was still the same wide-shouldered, muscular blond-hair-and-blue-eyes, crooked-smile Romeo-type that I had fallen for as a teenager. Only when I had lost myself to him, he had been interested in me. Now the only thing that caught and held his interest was the bottom line – and it wasn’t my bottom line, either.

I had news for him. If things didn’t change for the better between us within the next four weeks, the bottom line on our marriage was going to be grim. I’d had enough.

“Too much to do? I thought we were on vacation, Meg. We’re supposed to be taking a break, for Chrissakes. The unpacking will wait – why don’t we go for a walk on the beach? Look – the sand is right outside the door, just waiting for us to sink our toes into it. Listen – ” Jim cocked his head toward the back door. “Do you hear it?”

I listened. I didn’t hear a thing.

“Hear what?”

“That’s the sound of the Atlantic Ocean calling to us. Let’s go, okay? I’ll grab a couple of beers and we’ll head out.”

He slipped off his loafers and left them on a faded mat by the door. The door slammed behind him as he went to grab the drinks.

Jim was trying. I had to give him that much at least. Now I had to learn to put aside my hurt feelings and do the same.

With a sigh, I headed after him.

***


I pushed my melamine plate across the faded plaid place mat and shoved my chair back an little.

“I don’t remember the last time I saw you eat so well,” Jim said. He lifted an eyebrow at the empty plate and rumpled napkin.

Resisting the urge to point out his own voracious appetite, I said, “I don’t remember a meal that’s tasted this good in ... who knows? The shrimp salad was to die for, even if it was on a plastic plate. We’ll have to phone in food from The Shrimp Shack again – soon.”

The last inch of iced tea tasted was warm but I drank it anyway.

“Good idea. The shrimp stir-fry was excellent. I ate like a hog, too, and – ”

“So I noticed.”

His eyes met mine. The fork he’d been ferrying to his mouth remained suspended midway between his plate and his face. Instantly I regretted the words. The jabs, digs, innuendos – all the nasty, biting things we said to each other had become normal parts of our daily exchanges. When had this happened? And, more importantly, how were we going to put an end to it?

Shit, I can’t believe I said that.

“Jim, I – ”

As if I hadn’t spoken, he continued. “I ate like a hog, too, and I’m thinking that we’ll have to get more exercise while we’re here. At least if we keep eating like this – and the food was so great that I don’t see us not eating like this. No, we’ll need to be more active.” He wiped his hands on the napkin he pulled from his lap. Setting the soft blue-and-green cloth on the mat beside the now-empty plate, Jim reached for his glass. “Maybe we should see about renting a boat tomorrow ... would you like that? We could go sailing. We used to have fun sailing, remember? When we were going out together, when we were – ”

“Happy.”

He swallowed the last of his iced tea. “I was going to say when we were young. That’s what I was thinking, Meg.” Clearing his voice, he said, “So, what do you say to a sail? Sound good?”

I carried my plate to the sink, ran the warm water, and went back to the table. He was waiting for an answer. With shaking hands, I reached for his plate. Jim caught my hand before I could clear his place.

His hand felt warm, hot almost. I’d forgotten what a furnace he had always been. His fingers closed around mine. I looked down and noticed the well-groomed fingernails and wide knuckles. When was the last time we held hands?

“So,” his voice was deep in the silent room. “Does that sound like an activity you’d enjoy? Or would you like to do something else, something – I don’t know – like sight-seeing or shopping, even? You tell me what sounds good, and that’s what we’ll do.”

I had hoped we’d be able to re-connect on this trip. I’d expected that if we could do that, it’d take weeks to accomplish. I never anticipated that Jim would be so amiable, especially so quickly. It felt as if I were in a dream of my own making.

I wondered when I’d awaken to the reality that had become our lives.

The plate felt cool in my fingers after the heat of his hand. “No – sailing sounds like fun, actually. I’d like that. I saw a couple of boat rental places on Route 6 as we drove in.... Did you see them, too? It’d be good to get some exercise on the water – it hardly feels like exercise, does it?”

“Hardly.”

The 1930s-era plates were a snap to wash. Not that we left much of our dinners on them to be cleaned off. They practically rinsed off. I stuck them in the cracked-plastic drainboard and reached for the silverware that had hidden itself beneath the soap bubbles.

Jim reached around to put the glasses in the sink, our bodies coming into contact. Instantly I was aware of a change in the atmosphere at the sink. He leaned closer than was absolutely necessary to deposit the glasses – he knew it and I knew it. There wasn’t even a hint of a doubt about his intentions when his hips fit themselves against my ass and I felt the bulge.

My body betrayed me once more. My nipples puckered and my breath quickened. I felt a warmth that had nothing to do with air temperature and all to do with imagined possibilities begin to grow deep inside me. The traitorous heart lurched.

His breath stirred my hair as he spoke into my ear. “This sea air ... inspires me, Meggie.”

Meggie. Jim hadn’t used my college nickname for a decade. I fought the urge to push my body backward, to fit myself into the once-familiar muscular angles that I had tied myself to.

“Is that so?” I assumed a nonchalant tone; he wasn’t getting over on me as easily as if I were still a drooling virgin.

His voice was barely above a whisper. “It’s so. I know something else that would hardly feel like exercise ...” his hot hand rested on my hip. “if you’re willing to give it a try. Come on, Meggie ... we were always so good together.”

Yeah, until you forgot about me. Until you became so involved with Murray, Maxwell, and Morgan and their damn client list. Tax shelters, annuities, friggin’ tax-deferred bonds for friggin’ over-paid, arrogant—

His erection pushed against my backside.

You couldn’t fake that, could you? I didn’t know what in the hell Jim was thinking about that would give him a hard-on like that but suddenly I didn’t give a royal rip. It had been a long time since we’d had a good time in bed.

I turned the tap off with a twist of the wrist.

Bird in the hand, right? More like snake in the bush.

“You’re right. I’d like a taste of your after-dinner exercise plan,” I said with a smile. I turned to face him and saw the glimmer of hope behind the dark eyes. “But I’m hot and sweaty from the traveling. I’d like to shower first.” I reached between us, gave him a friendly grab and was rewarded with a gasp. He’d best not think he was the one in charge, here. On top, maybe, but in charge? Not by a long shot.

“I’ll wait.”

As I headed for the stairs, I called back over my shoulder. “Would you mind sweeping up the kitchen before you come up? We must’ve tracked all that sand inside when we came in from our walk. Broom’s in the cupboard by the stove.”



***


“Hear the rigging singing? I used to love that sound – still do.” Jim adjusted a line and settled in beside me.

The day was warm, the sky that brilliant azure blue that’s common above large expanses of water. The breeze caressed our faces as the sun licked our limbs. I could almost feel my legs tanning as I slouched against Jim’s shoulder.

“Me, too. This was a great idea, to go sailing today. I’d forgotten how much fun it was, how much I loved being on the water.”

The gulls squawked as they circled above us.

“I don’t know ... I just don’t know,” Jim said. I waited for him to say more, but he merely squinted into the sun, despite the Ray Bans that hid his expression.

When I couldn’t wait any longer, I asked, “Know what? What don’t you know?”

Leaning forward, he placed his elbows on his knees. He stared at the deck of the boat. I could hear the water rushing past the hull, feel it beneath my feet. It felt like my heart was racing just as rapidly as the water while I waited for Jim to speak.

Finally, he did. He spoke without looking up.

“I don’t know how it happened, that’s all. How we forgot, both of us, all the things we loved. All the things we loved to do together. I don’t know ... how we forgot how to love each other.” Jim turned to look at me. I still couldn’t see his eyes, but the catch in his voice and the set of his lips left no room for uncertainty. “I just don’t see how we could come so close to losing each other. Hell, we still may – ”

Neither of us spoke. The boat that had felt spacious now seemed cramped. We had allowed our problems on board with us, and now that they’d arrived, they weren’t easily ignored.

I let out the breath I’d been holding. “That’s why we’re here, Jim. We need to see if what we’ve got – what we had – is worth holding on to. We need to see if we can get some of it back. Honestly, I don’t know how we lost each other, either – but it happened. Figuring out the hows and whys, or even the whos, won’t solve the problems we’ve got.”

It was hard to believe, but all the hours I’d spent thinking of what I’d say when this very moment came were wasted. I’d run out of words in record time, and for the life of me I couldn’t find a single phrase to move the conversation along. And I realized that I did want it to move along – we’d had an amazing time last night and had been laughing and snuggling only minutes before. It seemed a shame to ruin the first fun we’d had in so long by talking about our deteriorated marriage. Besides, maybe the tide had turned on our relationship ... who could tell?

“We haven’t been sailing in so long ... why don’t we just enjoy the day? Maybe the rest will take care of itself if we ignore it,” I said. I ran my hand up his hard leg, felt the downy softness of the brown hair that covered it. My fingers edged higher, closer to the edge of his khaki shorts.

“Think so?” His mouth twitched; he could still read my thoughts. Sometimes.

“I do.”

I leaned closer, put my lips against his. Racing along the water, with the sun on my hair and Jim beside me, I forgot the reason we had come to this place.

Jim surveyed the horizon when he pulled back. He checked the sails and keel with a quick glance.

Then he turned to me, grinning.

“Want to check my halyard, mate?”

***


“I’ll jump in the shower,” said Jim. He dumped the LL Bean tote on the kitchen table, and the unused sun screen and forgotten magazines tumbled to the floor. He leaned over and picked them up, then dropped back in the tote. “Then I’ll got to that pizzeria we saw in town – Vito’s Place, wasn’t it?”

“I think so.” I unpacked the cooler, returning what little we hadn’t eaten to the round-topped Frigidaire.

“All right. While I go to pick up the pie, you can take a bath, if you’d like. I’m pretty sure I saw some of that Calgon stuff in the medicine chest. Hey, want me to rent a DVD? There was a Video Store next to the pizzeria.”

“Yeah. That’d be great.”

His back was tanned already and I watched it move toward the stairs with more than a little interest. An handsome man even when he was being inattentive, Jim was suddenly much more attractive. Yes, now that he had a clue that I was alive, I found him so much more interesting.

I contemplated following him up the stairs.

Instead, I reached into the cupboard and pulled out the splayed-bristle broom. I remember sweeping the floor after breakfast, but we had tracked in too much sand to ignore. As I heard the creaking of the pipes and the rush of water, I began to sweep.

***


I scooped a handful of the soft, wheat-colored sand into my palm, watched it run grain by grain through my spread fingers. The beach was surprisingly quiet, but it was still early. Maybe the hordes would come later. But for now, Jim and I shared Nauset Light Beach with only the sanderlings that danced with the tide.

Jim. He slept beside me, snoring softly in the beach chair. I had to hand it to him, he’d been an attentive, amiable companion for the past two weeks. He’d made every effort to mend our marriage.

At odd moments I found myself believing that we were going to be okay. That we’d turned a corner in our disjointed lives. That we were going to grow old together.

Still, I had to admit that even this new-and-improved Jim could grate on my nerves. Little things, like forgetting to cap the damn Crest or snoring after we’d made love. But really, what was I complaining about? At least we were making love again. Like rabbits, really – so what was a bit of snoring afterward?

But the sand. The goddamn, never-ending sand was enough to drive anyone crazy. It felt like I had spent a huge chunk of our holiday sweeping - and re-sweeping - and sweeping yet again! The friggin’ sand never stopped — but only in the kitchen. The rest of the house was virtually sand-free. There seemed to be a trail of sand from the back door to the kitchen sink, constantly.

Jim insisted it was pushing up from the basement, but I had my doubts.

“It’s these old houses, Meggie. Years of walking in from the back porch and into the kitchen ... it gets between the floorboards, that’s all. We’re probably pushing it up from below every time we walk on the floor. No biggie,” Jim said. He shrugged as he reached into the broom closet and began to sweep.

“The basement must be full of the stuff, then,” I said. “If it’s coming from below, the basement has got to be filled with nothing but beach sand. Have you looked down there? Checked to see what’s going on?”

He pushed the sand into the dented metal dustpan. “No, I haven’t looked in the cellar. But I doubt that it’s floor-to-ceiling sand. Look at how tiny each grain is – there could be billions of them between the slats of the floor just waiting to be pushed into the kitchen to bug you. They don’t need to fill the cellar.” He went outside, dumped the sand over the porch railing, and returned with a seductive smile.

Jim deposited the broom in the closet, hung the dustpan on its rusty nail, and turned to me. I knew what was coming. I grinned before his mouth opened.

I was beginning to enjoy these naked afternoons.

***


“So you two are staying out at the old Latham place, I hear. How do you like it so far?”

The nicotine-stained teeth and stringy, combed-across-his-head hair did little to put me in the mood for idle chatter. The town loser had taken me by surprise as I was leaving The Market with a gallon of Neapolitan ice cream. I searched the street for any sign of Jim, but there was none.

Still buying stamps at the mini-post. Hurry up, Jim. I don’t want to talk to this guy. He gives me the creeps.

I had no choice. I had to answer him.

Kendall Kourey was a familiar fixture in North Eastham, even to a newcomer. He spent his days sitting on a bench in front of The Market, the town’s only place for groceries. Rumor had it that he’d once been a village policeman, but had screwed the pooch and been caught doing it. Literally.

Scuttlebutt was that Kourey had been caught in the act. In flagrant delecte. In a compromising position, if you will. With his pants around his ankles and his pecker in Bertha, the flea-bitten, mangy mutt that spent her life on a rope behind the village equipment shed.

It was difficult to speak with a man when you knew he had a predilection for having sex with dogs. Very difficult indeed, especially when he smelled like the inside of a city dumpster.

“Um ... yes, that’s right. We are staying, at ... uh, the Latham place. Very nice to see you Mr. Kourey,” I said. I smiled and turned to leave, anxious for the blissfully un-stinky air inside the Rover. His next words stopped me.

“Have you seen her yet? Lucinda? Has she come calling on you yet? She will, you know,” he said. With a snort, he hawked a huge glob of something gross into the street. Then he smiled at me, and my stomach churned. His teeth looked like leaning brown stumps, and I was relieved when his thin lips closed back over them.

“Lucinda? Sorry, we haven’t had any visitors named Lucinda.”

He shook his head and the long, circling hair flopped. He pushed it into place with dirty fingernails.

“Oh, you will. Mark my words, she’ll come. Have you heard her laughing? She only laughs when she knows the house needs it. When the visitors are happy, or on their way, she stays silent. Quiet-like, you know? The way a woman should be, if you ask me.” He hawked and spat a second time.

I resisted the urge to run.

“Lucinda? Is she one of our neighbors?”

He dug in his ear with the nail of his right pinky for a moment before answering. Whatever he mined from his head was duly wiped on the already-repulsive fabric of his Wranglers without a glance.

“Could say that. Lucinda Latham lived in that house when there warn’t nothing in North Eastham but sailing shacks and whaling taverns. Wife of Captain Latham. Got himself drowned at sea. Says she still waits for him to come home, you know.”

I edged closer to the parking lot. My blood had run cold beneath the hot midday sun.

“Well, I’m sure we don’t know anything about that, Mr. Kourey. Have a nice day,” I said as I turned a second time. To my relief, I saw Jim crossing the street.

I opened the passenger door and climbed inside. As we pulled onto Main Street, I heard one final bit of information from Kendall Kourey. His voice floated into the SUV, an unwelcome intruder.

“The sand. You’ll know by the sand!”

***


“The man is mad, for God’s sake! You can’t be serious about listening to the village idiot, Meg. It’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.”

He dropped his plastic bowl into the sink and reached for mine. The ice cream had gone soupy while I told him about the conversation I’d had with the smelly dog-lover. Jim knew me well enough to know I wasn’t about to eat ice cream soup. My bowl joined his in the sink.

“If people are to be believed, the guy screws dogs, Meg. Who could believe someone like that?”

I wanted to agree with him, but as I looked at the line of sand that ran between the screen door and the sink, I had my doubts.

***


The interior of The Tidal Wave was cool. The air conditioning hummed soothingly in the background. I leaned back in the manicure chair and relished the sensations.

Jim had surprised me at breakfast with a certificate for a manicure at the town’s beauty salon. Apparently that’s what had kept him so long the afternoon before, when I thought he was only going to buy stamps.

The old Jim would have never considered pampering me like this. I liked the new Jim much, much better.

Gail snapped her gum as she stroked the second coat of Pearlized Plum on my nails.

“Yeah, the Latham house. Never been in it myself. Heard stuff, though. Dogman is right about the sand, leastways that’s what they say,” she said. I examined the chunks of blond that ran through her gelled hair.

Is that supposed to look like it was bleached by the sun? What’s the deal with those yellow chunks, anyway?

“So Dog– uh, Mr. Kourey – isn’t the only one who speaks of Lucinda?”

Beginning on my left hand, she shook her head, snapping her gum again. It was comforting to know that she could do several things at once.

“Nah, everyone talks around here. It’s not just Lucinda, either. A place like this – there’s lots to keep tongues wagging. Let’s see ... there’s Peg-leg Pete ... and Simms, the lighthouse-keeper ... and then there’s the Valmer twins, they drowned in the Depression. Some say it was their Pa that did the deed, and that’s why they run through the graveyard when the moon’s full. Looking for their mother, they are.”

I held my fingers out straight and pretended to examine the nails. I smiled as I looked at her earnest expression. She was little more than a teenager.

“Like it?”

“Very much, thanks.”

Gail began to recap bottles and organize her station. She spoke as she worked.

“Give it a minute and we’ll spray some fixative on them. Then you’ll be all set to go.”

I waved my hands carefully in the cool air.

“So Lucinda?” I prompted.

“Oh, they say she’s harmless. Especially if you’re not hearing the laughter, you’ll be fine. She laughs when she feels the house needs it, at least that’s what I’ve always heard. I wouldn’t want to be hearing her laughter, that’s for sure. But the sand, that’s no big deal. I mean, every house at the beach gets sand in it, doesn’t it? Part of beach living.”

“I guess.”

Gail sprayed my plum-painted fingernails with something from an industrial-size spray can. She checked them one last time and pushed her chair back from the table with a satisfied look.

“Yeah, the sand is no big deal. What you’ve gotta watch for is a sign. That’s when she’s getting close to making herself seen. That’s what they say, anyways.”

“A sign?” I handed her a five. She pocketed the tip without looking at it.

“Yeah. From what I hear, she leaves a sign that can’t be mistaken for anything else. Have a nice day, Meg. Come back again before you leave. I’m here on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

***


“Shit, Meg, I thought you’d be happy that I rented the place for the rest of the summer! I had to do a lot of work to shift things around at the firm, and call in a lot of favors, but I did it because I thought you’d want to spend more time with me.” Jim banged his fist on the porch railing.

“I do want to spend time with you – just not here!”

It was as if we’d never taken a break from ourselves and our lives. We fell back into our old habits with barely a bump. He the over-worked, stretched-thin husband; me the misunderstood wife.

“You know, just when I think we’re going to figure mess all out, you do something like this and I wonder if we’ll ever be able to get past this crap. I’ve rented the place for the rest of the season, and you want to leave because there’s sand at the beach – God, Meg, do you hear how asinine that sounds?”

“It’s not just ordinary sand – why don’t you see that? It’s ghost sand, dammit!”

It sounded ridiculous even to my own ears.

***


We passed the evening in stony silence.

As if on cue, North Eastham had a gully-washer of a storm. Thunder boomed incessantly. Jagged spears of lightening fell from the sky above the roiling waters of the Atlantic.

Through it all, we barely spoke. The tension between us was something, sadly, that we were used to. It was as if the three-week truce had been a shared delusion. We were back to our old selves – until the power went out.

Plunged into blackness, I stuck out my hand, waved it around in the still air beside me. I was relieved to meet something solid, warm. I closed my fingers around the heat of him and heard his gasp.

“Hell, if you want something, just say so. No need to break ‘em, Meggie,” Jim squawked. I realized that I’d grabbed a delicate part of his anatomy in my near-frantic rush to find human contact. His hand covered mine, and removed it from his crotch. He held my hand in his, and I felt the connection between us return.

I was back to being Meggie, too.

Swatting at my cheek with my free hand, I was glad that he couldn’t see the tears that were silently sliding down my face. Relief does that to me, along with sappy movies and babies. Oh yeah, Hallmark card commercials. They always make me cry.

“C’mon, let’s see if there are any candles around this place,” Jim said. He pulled me along behind him toward the kitchen. I knew we had reached it when I felt the grit beneath my bare feet.

Damn sand.

“I think I saw some in the drawer beside the stove,” I offered. We stumbled around until I heard a thud that I knew instinctively was Jim’s head.

“Shit!”

“What happened?” I felt for him with my free hand, higher now. I found his hand on his head, and when I touched the spot for myself, my fingers got wet.

“Is that blood? Jim, what did you do?”

Panic can lay its gaze on you quickly sometimes. Especially when you’re standing in other-worldly sand, in the center of what must surely be the cataclysmic end of the world – or at least something akin to it – and the metallic scent of a loved ones’ blood hangs in the air. Yeah, panic comes easily under those circumstances.

I fought the rising fear.

“I walked into the damn door ... the broom closet – the door was wide open, and I hit it with my head,” he said. I could hear the sound of scratching, and knew he was wiping the blood from his hand onto his jeans. “I didn’t expect the damn thing to be hanging open like that.”

“I closed it. Just before the storm hit, I closed it. I swept the floor, dumped the sand outside, and closed the door. I know I did.”

In the brief flash I could see his face. The blood dripped down his right temple, was smeared on his pale cheek. He looked like a refugee from a battle.

“You’re sure?”

I could tell he wanted to believe me. I could tell, too, that he was still struggling with my take on the house.

“I am.”

The cupboard door banged closed. I pictured the dent that would be there when the lights came back on, the dent that would match perfectly the shape of Jim’s knuckles.

“So it swung open. Probably a bad hinge or something. I’ll see about fixing it in the morning. Now, let’s find the damn candles so we don’t bash into anything else.”

The door to the what-not drawer squeaked open. I heard things being moved about: keys, something hard, the scratchy sound of an emery board scraping against the inside of the drawer. I waited patiently for him to find the twisted ancient tapers I’d seen in there a few days ago.

I shifted my feet, wiping the sand on the leg of my jeans.

The sand.

“Jim – ”

“I’ll find them. I know they’re in – ”

“Jim!”

The sounds stopped. I felt his body turn toward mine.

“What, Meg? What is it?”

“The sand. Do you feel the sand?”

He had to feel it. I knew we’d both taken our shoes off at the door, as was our habit. We never wore shoes indoors, either of us.

“It must have – ”

“Don’t you dare give me that shit about the sand between the floorboards! Don’t you dare! We haven’t been in here – either of us – since I swept the floor last. We haven’t walked on the damn floor – we’ve been in the living room, watching the storm come ashore. Remember?”

The sounds of the storm were louder. The house shook with every reverberation of the deafening thunder. The lightening was nearly constant. It almost made the need for candles a moot point.

We could each clearly see the terror that was barely contained within the other. We could feel the trembling of our bodies through the Hansel-and-Gretel-ish clasping of our hands.

“Let’s find the candles,” Jim said.

My hand joined his in the drawer. We grasped and discarded the usual kitchen-drawer junk, throwing it all to the floor as we identified it. I felt a plaster coaster bounce off my foot but it hardly registered. The only thing that mattered was finding the candles.

“Got one,” Jim said.

I saw it in his bloodied hand. I released my hold on him to strike a match from the big box that we’d found -and left- on the counter beside the stove. The smell of sulfur mingled with the smell of Jim’s blood as I held the flame to the wick.

The candle was like a warm fire in a blizzard. It was if the panic was intimidated by the wavering flame and I felt my fear subside. I felt Jim relax, too.

Our peace was to be short-lived. When Jim held the candle up, and the light reached the floor, we saw the sand. Lots more sand than had ever been left before. And then we saw the writing. Written in the sand, in big, bold letters, was one word:

L U C Y.

That’s when the laughter began.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarita Leone lives on a farm in upstate New York with her husband Vito. When not writing, she likes hiking, reading, rowing, snow shoeing, painting, gardening, and cooking. Sarita and Vito have been happily married for more than two decades. He is her biggest fan and greatest supporter. The author of six novels and two cookbooks, Sarita is currently working on her next book, Alpine Art. It is the story of love amidst the mountains of Switzerland, with a missing masterpiece thrown in for good measure.


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