His home sits on the edge of a cliffside. It had once sat a few feet further from it, but the sandstone has eroded in his lifetime. He rests on a rocking chair, the ocean view unobstructed in front of him. A cup of coffee in one hand, eyes softly closed in relaxation.
Only the waves break the silence.
He wishes to pull a paintbrush and canvas out of the dusty crate in his attic, but as his fingers shake against the coffee cup, he dismisses the thought. His chest tightens as he’s reminded of the feeling of the thin wood pressed against his palm—the repetitive strokes filling the canvas with blue-green hues. For many years, he would wake up and stroll out onto the porch, no need for coffee to stir him awake.
What a time it was.
Mimi has been gone for a while. But she comes into the picture he’s brushed delicately into his mind. A bright smile extending into her eyes, unmatched enthusiasm for the days spent by the water. She would swing open the door and join him on the porch, settling in the very rocking chair he occupied at the moment. She would open her book—something of Agatha Christie’s—and sit silently in his company for hours.
On one of those days, her voice broke the sounds of the waves crashing to propose a walk down to the beach. He put away his paints and retreated indoors to fetch bread and cheese for their excursion. Mimi remained seated, entranced by a pair of butterflies darting around a dandelion at her feet. He waited a few moments before placing his hand gently on her shoulder, shifting her focus back to their beach outing.
They followed the winding dirt path to the water’s edge. Even at 70, she removed her sandals hurriedly, and dashed towards the water, beckoning him to come with as he dropped their things on the sand. “The water’s not waiting!” she shouted with giddy impatience. With no regard for her outfit, she splashed up to her knees and reached for his hand. She gasped and laughed with each wave, and flung water in his direction. He reciprocated until they were soaked head to toe.
When they returned to shore, they settled on a blanket in the sand. Mimi reached for her book while he propped up his easel and mixed paints on his palette. She leaned back against him and it took a few moments before he had the heart to admit her position was not conducive to his painting. She adjusted accordingly and he outlined her figure, framed by the cliffside beside them.
The image of Mimi dissolves as he opens his eyes. It’s been too long since he’s been down to the beach and he knows this. In the months, and now years, that have followed her passing, his visits have become far less frequent. He sees her in the waves, resting on the sand, and crouched by the butterflies. Now there’s a bitterness to the salty air, and the sand and waves take on a dull gray hue. But she would hate to hear him say so, and he promises to visit the beach tomorrow.
With one last glance to the waves, he pushes himself up from the chair and retreats indoors. In the living room, rows of canvases line the walls. Mimi insisted his paintings be used as decor—all but those which featured herself. He reaches for a crate tucked under the side table, eases off its lid, and takes out the first canvas.
She’s facing away from him, her ashen hair blowing in the wind, arms wrapped around her knees which support that week’s read: And Then There Were None.
He pauses. As he lifts his fingers to trace her form, his eyes mist over. He shuts them in search of a memory.