By Peter Barbour
Gracie sat on the veranda upon a soft cushioned wicker couch with her feet propped on a pillow atop a wicker ottoman, waiting. From the tenth floor of her condo, she looked out on her beautiful view, the intercoastal water-way, the ocean, the clouds, the buildings, and the boats.
Breezes filled with the sweet freshness of the ocean, moist and salty, bathed her. Her head rested on a pillow as she intermittently napped. A book lay on her belly, open, face down. She had read the same pages over more than once. No matter, as long as on awakening, her view was still there.
When she awoke, she read a few more pages of her book and stopped. Waves beat on the sand just beyond the buildings that lined the coast. I should go down to the beach; but she hadn’t gone to the beach for months.
The phone rang disturbing her reverie.
“Have you decided about moving?” her daughter asked. “You seemed to like the last place we visited. You agreed it would be better to have people around should you need help, a place with programs and activities, and a nurse available to help with your medications. It’s time. Right?”
“Of course, you are always right.” Gracie shuddered at the thought of moving anywhere.
“Will you send in the deposit?”
“Yes. I’ll take care of it.” She grimaced as obstinacy, fueled by anger, arose within her.
“Yes, today,” She said and hung up. I’m not giving up my independence.
Gracie sat on the veranda upon a soft cushioned wicker couch with her feet propped on a pillow atop a wicker ottoman. As she napped, she dreamed. He was sitting beside her, here on their porch, so real.
“Look,” he said, “that’s a Cal 25. Twenty-five feet of sheer beauty. Just like the sailboat we had on Long Island.”
She awoke, forgot for a moment that he was gone, then realized it was just a dream. A tear formed at the corner of her eye. She smiled, and the tear ran down her cheek. She reached for the glass that always sat by her side and took a sip.
“Is it Tuesday or Wednesday? Does it really matter?” She said aloud and took another sip. It needs more ice. Maybe I’ll get some from the fridge, but first, I’ll rest a little longer.
She picked up her book and started to read. The words had no meaning without context from what she had read before. She went to the beginning of the chapter, then to the beginning of the book. I’ll start it again, and this time pay attention. She laughed, no longer caring.
A kayaker paddled on the water below. Three pelicans flew in a line above her. Her head rested on the pillow behind her, and she started to doze again.
He guided the boat almost into the wind. The sail snapped as it filled with air. She pulled in the jib, and the boat rose out of the water, heeled over, water beat against the prow as the boat gained speed.
“Coming about!” he shouted.
She ducked, the boom swung above her, and the boat tacked. The wind blew back her hair, a fine spray wet her face, and the salt air filled her lungs. He was beside her, and they were both full of life.
She startled awake as the phone rang.
“Can I call you back in a few minutes?” she asked.
“Did you decide on Manor House?”
“Let me call you back.” She hung up.
She reached for her glass. Empty. Gracie stood stiffly and hobbled from the deck into the kitchen, made her way to the fridge, refilled her glass, took two ice cubes from the freezer, and placed them in her drink. She picked up the forms from Manor House and pushed them aside, then made her way back to her perch high above the water.
Gracie looked out at the view before her, the clouds, the water, the ocean, the buildings, and the boats, her beautiful view, and there she sat upon a soft cushioned wicker couch with her feet propped on a pillow atop a wicker ottoman and waited.
Pete Barbour has been writing stories for over 30 years. He published a memoir, Loose Ends, in 1987, and a number of short stories. Since retirement in 2015, his stories have appeared in Short-Story.me, StoryStar.com, Rue Scribe, Piker Press, ARTPOST magazine, and the Starlit Path. He wrote and illustrated two children’s books, Gus at Work (2016) and Oscar and Gus (2019). His short story “Why Bats Live in Caves” appears in Fur, Feathers, & Scales, an anthology of sweet, funny, and strange animal tales (Bethlehem Writers Group, 2020).