The Tide Recedes Anyways
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This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
Scarborough is one of the places I love and hate to visit. I love it because of all the memories that I have there, and I hate it for the pain those memories cause.
Driving down Stepney Road from my home in East Ayton, I remember the first time I took Becky up this road to see our new home. East Ayton is about 5 miles east of the coastal town Scarborough, and I believe it's one of the most beautiful villages in North Yorkshire. When Becky saw our home for the first time, her face, so beautiful, lit up like a Bonfire Night firework. But now driving down the road, back tracking the route we took that day from the sea, it seems so symbolic. It's the same time of year. Can it be that we lived here for almost three years? But I need to focus on the road, not the past. Driving this road in the summer is wonderful. The sunlight streams down in torrents of splashing yellow waves. Passing beneath the trees, the light shatters and refracts through the broad, deep green leaves, defusing it and creating a dull glow that relaxes but invigorates my mind at the same time. I can't help imagining that the trees are giant hands gripping a flashlight so that the light is coming through their glowing, green skin.
Why do I feel so restless and sick? My stomach churns like the witches' caldron from Macbeth. Peace is all that I want. All I need. Speed, acceleration, that might help. Pressing my foot to the accelerator, the car surges forward like a lemming seeking the eastward sea. The road is an eel and I its prey, slipping down its back to the sea and my solace. Faster, faster, faster. Thirty, forty, fifty, now sixty miles an hour. How fast is that in Kilometers I wonder? The roadside is a blur of green, gold and brown in varying shades, moving past my gray car with a rush of wind. A house flies by, then another, and then a wheat field, its rows marching past to the cadence of my throbbing heart. More houses now. I'm at the edge of town. The road straightens and then… Damn! A queue of cars at the roundabout! I press the break peddle to the floor and grind the gears as I down shift. No thought, just reaction. The screech and smell of tormented rubber fill my ears and nose as the back of a black BMW rushes towards me. I see in my mind's eye my car plowing into the back of the BMW, flinging my broken body out the window. Flying through the air. Flying to join my Becky…
My little car jerks to a stop. I can breathe again. I didn't realize I wasn't. How funny that when confronted with death, my body responds by denying such a vital need. Muttering aloud, "You stupid bugger, you almost got someone killed. Bullocks and bloody hell! Spending too much time looking back. What would mum and dad think about that, eh? Oh dad would say I scared a bloody year of his life, that's what."
After berating myself for a moment or two, looking up I can see that traffic at the roundabout is moving again. A big lorry, the cause of the backup, had had a hard time getting around the little center of the roundabout because the town council had the brilliant idea of putting a lamp post in the middle of it. Moving again, the landscape moves from the wild to the tame. Like a horse is trained to hold a rider, the ground and vegetation is molded to hold homes, paths, gardens and stone walls. Pulling forward in my little car, I can't help but remember when Becky and I walked the path up to the right. It was like a great adventure, and yet it was just a footpath. Becky had that effect on me. Even now I'm grinning like a jackass. Damn, the day is so beautiful! Why did I have to go and ruin it like that? My face is tight. I'm there is pressure in my chest, an intense yearning for what can never be imprisoned in a cage of sorrow. Becky, why did you have to die? Why did you leave me here? It's so beautiful here, but without you, it's like being King Midas. I starve for you, but all I touch becomes cold and hard. Being is worthless without you to sustain me. No Stop! Focus! I'll be with her soon enough. Self-pity never does any good.
Here is the next roundabout. These things are always so crowded during the summer. Tourists always do this. They are to humans as Seagulls are to birds: loud, obnoxious and messy. Oh well, at least they bring money to the area. Passing through the round about, off to its right is the Christmas Tree Shop. Becky and I always bought our tree there. A Dutch spruce, like Mr. Ellis, the proprietor, always suggests. Mr. Ellis is always trying to rent that thing out during the off season, but it doesn't seem to work. The only other time he can make money off the spot is selling fireworks before bonfire night but the council made him stop last year. They said it was a public nuisance. So is the council, but they won't be closing down anytime soon. I heard someone tried to open a game shop there, but that they couldn't compete with the other shop on the seafront. And there is the old Methodist church, that thing is huge. I always wonder what it was before they made it a church. It looks like a courthouse or old mansion.
To the left something's moving. Turning my head, I see more clearly. A man steps into the street. He's wearing a Liverpool United football top and sweat pants. Moving at an easy gait, he crosses the street right in front of me, looking at me as if I was the one getting in his way and not the other way around. Townies! They are such pains in the arse sometimes. Can't help laugh at them though. They are like knock-knock jokes, so bad you can't help but think them funny. Slowing so as not to hit the idiot, I remember the time Becky almost hit a man like this one coming up Filey Road from Bridlington. She screamed loud enough to burst my eardrums. I didn't stop laughing 'til we got home. And when we did, Becky chased me into the house laughing. That was one of the best nights of our marriage.
The train station is on the right. Buses are always pulling in and out of it. Hopefully I won't get stuck behind one. I'm so close. I'd like to be there before the tide is all the way out. The clock on the dash reads 12:57, and it's a beautiful 36 degrees out. At Northgate, I managed to get through the light without a bus pulling in front of me-the buggers usually get in the way when you're in a hurry- and moved through the next light. Right onto Victoria just as the light turns yellow. The bright red trim of the corner pawn shop makes me remember the guitar that Becky got me for my birthday a couple years back. It was in such good condition, only 50 pounds. Practically new!
Through the next roundabout and past Trinity Church. Vicar Matthews used to run it before he died. He spoke at Becky's Funeral. Can it really have been a year ago? He passed away in January. Such wonderful man. I can remember the feel of his gentle hand gripping mine while his other hand held my shoulder. He wanted to bear my grief, I could feel it. I miss him so.
Here is my turn-off, down behind the church and out the other side. I love driving down this road, the feel of the wheels as they vibrate over the cobbles as I let the car coast down the hill. It's fun, relaxing. Becky would always say "uuhhh" all the way down like a little kid talking in front of a fan. I use to do that and say, "Luke, I am your father…" with the fan on full blast. Becky always made me feel like a kid. Life was an adventure with her…
There is always parking on Friars Way. Having a parking disk makes it easier too. Only good idea the council has had in years. Lets see, its 1:12 PM. Rounding it up, I move the arrow to 13:15 on the disk and called it even.
The one thing I love more than driving on cobble roads is walking on them. The feel of the age smoothed stone beneath my feet as I walk. There was a time when I could tell were I was in Scarborough by the feel of the stones under my feet. Now, if I remembered right, I can just follow this street to Castlegate. There's the barber shop and fish-n-chips place. I wonder if Akbar is still running the place. Becky and I would go there every Friday, right after we watched the sunset. She'd get fish-n-chips and I'd get the donnar kabob with garlic sauce. Oh, she would squeal when I hugged her close and breathily said "I love you," in her face after eating a kabob. We always shared a can of Dandelion & Burdock. It was her favorite drink. She said it was like liquid licorice.
And here is Castlegate hill. Cardiac Hill more like it. At least the cobbles are dry. That helps my feet with gripping the road. Traction on this thing in winter is a bugger to be sure. Driving down this thing in good weather is a nightmare. It has to be at least a ten percent grade. I guess I'll never really know. The Barkley's live in number 15. Dorothy and Becky were such good friends. Huffing up the hill is so much work, but here is what makes it worth the climb. Paradise. I always thought that was an apt name for the top of this hill. A breathe taking view, white sand lines the star sapphire sea. Like the smile of my love. So gentle and pure. I must keep going though, it's almost time. 1:30 already. I can't be late!
Up Church Lane to Castle Road, and from there to the gates of Scarborough castle. I heard Maggie Cooper's son is helping with the repairs to the East wall. If he is, he's doing a fine job. It looks beautiful. A shame John McClintock left for Scotland before he could help with it.
Now at the gate and paying to get in. Ten pounds to get in! It used to be five. The damn city council! Need I say more? They'll milk you for every penny you have and then some.
But here is what makes it worth the high cost. I climb the stairs to the top of the wall. Dad always said to look to the east. I never really knew what he meant until now. He said, "Look to the east Jonny. Hope rises there every morning." Ah, the beauty of it. There is the North and South beach at low tide, two perfect semicircles. As if a goddess of the sea hugged the shore to her bosom at creation's dawn. The sand is so clean and beautiful, even with all the people moving over it like ants.
The stiff breeze stings my face. The tears I held back for so long flow for the one I lost.
"Becky, I'm coming. I'll be with you soon!"
Stepping to the edge of the wall, I spread my arms to embrace her- I must be ready to hold her when I see her-and I step into nothingness. As I fall over the edge, I can't help but wonder that my car might get a ticket for being parked past the two hour limit.
The wind rushes past my ears, covering the sound of the waves on the rocks. Seconds become eternity as I fall the five hundred or so feet to the rocks below. The emotionless rocks rush towards me in a blur until…
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…Gasping, I sit up in bed. Heart beating like drums in my chest, I breathe shallowly, as if I have finished a marathon or wrestled an angel. To my right, Becky stirs and mumbles, "What's wrong luv?"
Relief rushes over me, and I roll over. I hold her tightly in my arms.
"Nothing, it's just a bad dream."
Kissing her gently on the back of her neck, I breath her in and float into a contented sleep…
When we woke in the morning, I suggested having breakfast at the Old Stag across the bridge in West Ayton. Getting up, we showered and dressed. Then walked along Racecourse Road to the roundabout, past the post office on Main Street and into the Old Stag Pub.
There we enjoyed a classic English breakfast. Bacon, sausage, fried eggs, baked beans in tomato sauce, brown bread toast with Devonshire clotted cream and a glass of tomato and orange juice a piece. During the entire time, I could hardly keep my eyes of Becky's face. Her beautiful brown eyes, those soft lips and sweet dimples that I love so much. Her face is the face of an angel. Her brown hair, her sculpted face, her mind, her wit, all of her. She completes me. She makes me whole. I am so glad that I have her.
After breakfast, we sat, talking over tea, chatting about work and what we should do with our weekend. It was such a beautiful morning. One that I plan on treasuring for years to come.
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Author's Concluding Note
This short story was inspired by two things. First, I lived in Scarborough and East Ayton for about 4 months. Second, a creative writing teacher told me that people who read & write Sci-fi and Fantasy can't write anything else. Since my genre of choice is Sci-fi/Fantasy I took this as a personal challenge. This story is a tragedy, a romance, a memory. While I gravitate towards stories of science and magic, the key to all the stories I enjoy is the people.
I wrote this for American's and people not from the UK. There are some points were I describe things more clearly for the sake of those people who have not spent time there. If you are from the UK or are familiar with that region please accept my apologies for the large amount of detail.
I hope you enjoyed this story.
Across the common room of the Old Stag, three old ladies, Lilly, Beth and Mary, sit at a table. They talk over tea about the village gossip and natter on about the old days. If you listen closely, you might hear something about old Jeffrey Lozenger and the drifter he's letting sleep in his barn, or "Oh, did your hear what Violet said to her husband last night when they was fighting?" Or perhaps speculation on what might happen on East Enders or Coronation Street this week.
In the middle of a lively conversation about who's baby Jamie-from Coronation Street-is really carrying, Lilly stopped and stared across the room.
"Oi, isn't it sad about the Turnbull lad?"
"Who, Jonathan?" Mary inquires.
"Yes, that's the one, poor lad."
Beth turns her head and looks at him. "He's gone a bit balmy if you ask me. He's has curly hairs since poor Becky died in the car accident on the M-1." While she says this she circles her ear a couple times with her finger to emphasize her point.
"Well maybe he likes to have two cups of tea on a morning. I like two," Mary chimes in.
"Aye, but do you hold conversations with your Arthur, God rest his soul?"
"Tis' a good point. I hadn't considered that."
"We mustn't judge him Beth," Lilly chimed in, "He's a good lad and he loved her so."
"You're right I guess. T'is a shame that he's like that, all the same. I never was like that when I lost my Peter."
"Nor I my Graham. But our men were old and lived out their lives, and she was young. Let it be. Now, did you hear about what happened in Flamborough Head yesterday?"
Pulling back from the women, we can see Jonathan sitting by himself, a cup of tea in his hands, and another across the table from him. Holding his tea mug in both hands, he sips, then nods, makes a comment and laughs lightly. Reaching across the table, his hand grasps the air. Does he holding a hand now? He chuckles, looking deep into eyes that are not there, oblivious to the world around him. But no, he shivers and pulls his hand back, wrapping it around the tea mug, pulling the warmth from it which his body cannot gain from his ghosts. It is truly sad, but no, don't pity him. He's at peace. His mind is clear as a calm day at sea. The storm is past. He smiles. Its clean and pure as the virgin sand after the receding tide.