We were walking towards the water. The Sound is just down the road from my place, at the bottom of a very steep set of wooden stairs, and she hadn’t seen it yet. She literally stopped in her tracks in her big green rubber boots, and took a step back when the water came into view, as if she had been hit by wind. The beach was gorgeous. I think she said “Oh my God,” or something like it— “Oh,” maybe—or maybe it was just an intake of breath, and I said, “What?” And she started to say whatever it was, and then she stopped. She glared at me.
“Tell me,” I said, about her obvious delight at the water, or I said something like “Tell me”—maybe I said, “What?” and then, “What were you thinking?” But she was already angry at me, and had been for I have no idea how long—weeks? months? Something had happened somewhere in the weeks or months before, though it was nothing she had named. “You know how I feel about the beach,” she said, or something like it, meaning, “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
I didn’t understand at the time what she meant. I thought we had been having fun. But when I wrote this little story, I finally saw: My wanting to know how she felt had, in her mind, become an aberration, a perversion even, definitely an offense. I hadn’t meant to invade the country of her being. I loved that country.
It’s just that it had been a while since I’d had something so beautiful to offer her, and now I did: a beach, glittering like a diamond across the expanse of the world. It wasn’t just any beach; it was mine, and I was giving it to her. It was fitting offering: magic to magic. I had no way of knowing that her feelings had changed; she used to love to come to my home.