Facebook is a quagmire in many ways, but one of the grand things about it is belonging to the, “I live in Pembrokeshire and I Love it!” group. The photographs that the members share about my favorite part of Wales are often humorous and quite frequently the most gorgeous images I’ll see in a day.
Early in September, photographer Philip Jones posted this picture and it absolutely captivated my imagination. I told him there should be a story written about it and after much pondering, came up with this short fiction piece.
Philip kindly gave me permission to post the picture and the story on my blog, so here they both are—enjoy.
Decision at Druidstone
“Come out of the water, Esther!”
I moved my head from side to side and mouthed the word no, aware that even if I’d spoken, the sound would not be heard above the rumble of the crashing waves.
My mother’s voice rang out, impatient, not understanding why I spent this moment standing in the sea, staring at the deep green and brooding blacks of Druidstone. Although my heart raced, my mind felt eerily calm. Decisions. They had to be made. In the making of them, I felt like the ocean battering against my bare legs, swooshing over me, then doing a rapid receding. Back and forth I’d gone for the last week, unsure of what move to make.
Sixty years old tomorrow. How did that number impact my choice on which would be the next square I’d take in this chessboard of my life?
A shot of sun burst through the smoke-gray clouds and landed with a jolt on two green spots on the stony hills. Two different spots, same sun, but the colors…oh, the colors were magnificent! One was a tiny meadow and it was the shade of a freshly sliced lime. The other, strewn with boulders and ravaged by dips was a brilliant emerald green—if it had been coated with fireplace ash.
Then one as the sun melted behind the clouds once again, muting the colors and blending the hills together.
Now I knew.
I turned to look at mum, standing at the edge of the water, wrapped in a sturdy wool sweater that had long-ago dulled to pale yellow. She stood there, cowering into the wind as if the air were cold. Was it? I didn’t feel it that way. The buffeting battered her long hair, entangling the multicolored strands—faded reds, bright whites, silver and gray smattered throughout. She looked tiny standing there, tiny yet fierce and full of love. I knew this, but still.
The mammoth rock of Druidstone drew me back again. I looked at the nooks and crannies of it as it rose from this sandy beach. My beach, my spot, until it had been ours. And I stood, knowing that the right decision had finally come.
I’d stay, but not because I’d be locked into this place that had claimed him, but because it was the place that owned my heart. The heart in me that soared right now, climbing over my sadness and racing back towards peace in that same whooshing of the waves going back and forth.
I drew my foot up out of the thick sand and plodded through the thrashing water to reach my mum. With a smile on my face, I held her tight and said, “It’s okay, Mum. I’ll be okay.” I swept my arm out, trying to encompass the beauty around me. “I’m good being right here in this spot at this time. It’s good. You can go home, Mum. But here,” I felt the solidness of the place reach into my heart, “in this spot, in Wales, my heart is light and happy.” I shrugged and smiled, “I’m staying.”
Hugging her into my chest, I pulled her up the beach to the cottage, knowing she didn’t really understand, but knowing too, that she would accept.
Behind us, the water continued to pound into the sand and slowly withdraw in the gentlest imitation of a lover’s touch.