On The Boardwalk

Original Story: Sturdy. Published 12 March 2014.
1,000 Word Dash

On The Boardwalk

Like most with Lucy and George, the decision to get married on the pier at the nature reserve was easy. Like most with Lucy’s and George’s families, the decision to keep it simple, low-key, and affordable was not. Lucy and George won, on the threat of elopement. A theoretical threat made to appear genuine with photoshopped screenshots of airfare and hotel reservations from a business trip George had taken earlier in the year.

Her pink painted toes peeped out under the white linen hem.
She stared down the path at the shapes under the canopy and saw him, again,
leaning against the library table in relaxed concentration.

It was a Tuesday afternoon and no self-respecting person would be at the county library, which is exactly why Lucy was at the library. No self-respecting person other than the retirees reading the free newspapers and SAHM moms dragging tired toddlers to circle time for a bubbly Early Education major volunteer to read single syllable stories at a high pitch and high volume to squirrely kids who never sat captivated.

Lucy went to the library when she expected most people wouldn’t. She went to the grocery store in the middle of the night, ordered damn near everything she could from Amazon, and went to the pool when most others went to church. George went to the library to people watch while between real estate showings, ordered from damn near every take-out joint in a six-block radius, shopped with his sisters anywhere every time they called, and went to church every week with his grandmother for Saturday night service.

She almost left when she saw him. Leaning against the table in the research section, feet crossed casually at the ankle, one hand on the surface for stability, the other cradling a book, the muscles of his forearm showing under the strain of the hefty text. Lucy went into the stacks. She didn’t see George follow her down. She picked out a book. He picked out the one next to it. She eyed him, cautious and curious. He leaned his elbow in the gap on the shelf. He missed. Lucy laughed.

“George,” he said.
“Family name?” Lucy asked.
“No, like Curious. Don’t ask.”
“Do you ever wear a yellow hat to family gatherings?”

George laughed. Lucy liked the sound of George’s laugh. A retiree shushed them. They laughed again.

The wind rustled the grasses and the flowers in her hair
as her feet padded along the sun-warmed planks,
much like that afternoon on the Huron Boardwalk
when their hearts merged inseparably.

An hour from Canada, across the Mackinack Bridge, the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world, was not Lucy’s idea of a vacation. No vacation was Lucy’s idea of a good time, but George insisted, and made her feel safe. After and slow and steady year, Lucy knew George was kind, genuinely kind, and George knew Lucy’s heart was true.

They drove instead of flying, but did fly too because George took the idea one step farther. They started with an overnight stay in Hialeah, Florida and road-tripped the length of Interstate 75, sixteen-hundred miles through six states – and four fights, one of which had Lucy convinced George was the devil, and the thought of flinging herself out of the passenger seat over the edge of Brent Spence Bridge into the Ohio River seemed a preferable option to one more single second with the infuriating George – ending at the Boardwalk Inn Hotel in a top floor room with a view of Mackinaw Island.

Lucy parked her bag by the door. George commented that it looked a bit like his grandmother’s bedroom at the assisted living home, but then moved to put his clothes in the drawers and small closet.

“We can skip living in a suitcase for a few days,” George said.
“I think I’m going to skip this whole thing,” said Lucy.
“But—”
“No,” said Lucy. “It’ll never work. I’m not good enough for you George. It’s best I go now.”

George sat down on the bed. It creaked. Lucy worked not to crack a smile at the sound. George stared at his hands on his lap. Lucy stared at George. She reached for the doorknob and her suitcase handle. George didn’t move. Lucy dropped her hands and walked to the bed. She sat down next to George.

“Can we go for a walk?” George asked.
Lucy shook her head no, ever so slightly.
“On the boardwalk,” George said. “And then you can go if you still want to.”

They started at the end and worked their way to the beginning, and then back again to the end. As they passed the marina the second time, George took Lucy’s hand. She squeezed three times, their silent I love you. Back at the park where they started, under the pavilion, attended by staff in crisp white shirts and long black aprons, George and Lucy ate an exquisite meal facing the ocean, sparkling as the sun began its descent. Before dessert was served, George led Lucy to the waterside. He got down on one knee. Lucy fell to both knees. The sun dipped below the horizon, and Lucy and George stood together.

She welcomed the cooling shade on her burning cheeks,
and reached out her hand to his. He pulled her close
and they turned to each other,
eyes locked on a promise as lasting as the horizon.

*****

Any thoughts or feedback? This started as a 100 word Friday Fictioneers story and I thought it would be a good exercise to expand to a longer short story.

*****

Featured Image by Unsplash, CC0 Public Domain

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6 thoughts on “On The Boardwalk

  1. I liked it Mel. There’s a sense of peace of quietness about the entire story – even when they fought, we knew it would end with reconciliation. I may not be typical – I don’t know – as my parents divorced and they argued, without reconciliation, loudly. I have a fear of being rejected or put out – not in a debilitating way. Which means that I embrace the tone and progression of the story. It’s a winner for me. Well done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some years back we ventured to Mackinac after attending a wedding in Appleton, WI. “Somewhere in Time” was and still is a favorite movie of my wife’s. Of course we had to pay the passage fee and head to the porch of the Grand Hotel for a glass of wine. You returned me there Mel, thanks for the moment. You captured the Library scene well also.

    Liked by 1 person

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