Lori Thatcher

Writing and Thinking about writing


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Fleeing the Cold

A grey day on St Augustine Beach

A grey day on St Augustine Beach

I would celebrate yet another windy grey day here in Florida if it weren’t for the family in the vacation rental next door. I can afford a few days of bad weather, a trifling part of the three months I’ll be here. And besides, something about lousy weather charms this Northern-girl-at-heart. Even a crummy day here rarely features the icy walking conditions which trap me inside in Massachusetts.

Instead it’s a refreshing deviation from Florida’s boundless sunlit days for someone in love with the “wait a minute” New England weather.

But not for this family. They’re here to trade seven days in the refrigerated north for a blissful week in warm, sunny Florida. Except it isn’t. Not now. One balmy bright day bookended by seemingly endless grey, foggy rifts with rain thrown in here and there. I watch Mom and Dad drag their beach chairs and sand toys across the walkway, the kids cocooned in freshly purchased sweatshirts. They huddle on the sand, determined to have a time on the beach to recall.

Me? I’m inside, But I can’t draw my gaze away from the seascape. The palm tree fronds whip back and forth, the ocean flaunts whitecaps as far as I can see, and the horizon is cottoned by grey. I slide the glass door open just an inch to relish the wail of the wind. The kid’s voices are gusted to me by the squall, “Daddy, can we go inside?”

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The Boundless Sea

        When I was fourteen, I saw the sea. I might have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been convinced that I was approaching my last breath.

        My Dad had lived with his sister ever since he was released from the hospital after being shot by his lover’s husband. His visits were wrapped in disagreement between him and my mother. I grew sad and fearful.

        I took to consulting a Ouija board. It spelled out words I didn’t know. We spoke to souls of the dead – one hanged for stealing a chicken. It was an appealing diversion for sheltered country kids.

        When my father decided to take my brother and me to Maine on our first-ever vacation, I was ecstatic—the sea. My mother bought us new clothes, normally a once-a-year occurrence.

        Before we were to leave, the Ouija board spelled out that if I left Massachusetts in the next month, I would perish. “Doesn’t perish mean die?” I asked.

        Suddenly the trip was a death sentence. But it would be unthinkable to even tell my father, never mind cancel.

         I felt like a person on death row. The world was at once sweeter and sadder. I said goodbye to my mother and my horse. I wore my seat belt without being told. I awaited my impending death.

        We had not yet seen the sea before we crossed the border to New Hampshire. I was sure I would die without having seen it, but the border fell behind us and I still drew breath.

         Then it came into view—the vast, the limitless, sea. I breathed easier, surely this could not be the last time I would see it. Somehow I came to believe it wouldn’t be. Little by little, I relaxed.

         It indeed wasn’t my last time.

 

This Challenge prompt was from: 

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThis week,  Kir of The Kir Corner gave us this quote:

“The cure for anything is salt water….sweat, tears or the sea.”
~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke

Did you come to a resolution by the sea? Did a character reach a crossroads of sweat and tears?

Link up your 300 salty words (oooh!), but only if you’ve responded to the prompt.