The sun was nestling beneath the waves, sending shattered beams of light across the surface towards the beach. Her cheeks were stained with tears, the skin stiff from the breeze caressing her skin as she stood in the sand, ignoring the icy waves washing over the tops of her bare feet.
He watched from a distance, this almost ghost of a woman as she stared intently into the sunset, unmoving and unphased as the sky darkened and the waves grew increasingly aggressive with the tide moving in. Hollering as he strode across the sand, he fought to get her attention, to break through the walls she had around her keeping her from the outside chaos that surrounded her.
As he approached, she slowly turned, a small smile appearing on her mouth before the light captured her essence in full and it forced Tony to stop. She appeared to whisper something but he couldn’t make it out before the last of the sun’s light disappeared, the mystery woman going with it as though she was never there.
And perhaps, he thought, she never was.
With shaky hands he pulled his phone from his pocket, scrolling through his phone to his voicemail, hitting play.
“Hey Ton, it’s me. I’m just calling to let you know we are headed out but that I will call you on the way home. It shouldn’t be any later than nine but I can’t wait to see you tomorrow. Love you to pieces, babe. Bye.“
Tears stung at his eyes but he blinked them away as he stared at the phone. How had life changed so drastically for him? He went from carefree and happy to chasing hallucinations down the beach as he’s done all week. Even though he didn’t know the mystery woman he felt drawn to her, as though she needed to teach him something or at the very least offer some sense of peace with his life that was falling apart at the seams.
But where did he go from here? Surely he can’t stay at the beach to wait for her to appear again.
“There’s only one direction to go,” a voice said from behind him.
Tony turned to find himself face to face with an old wrinkled man that was hunched over but held the kindest set of dark eyes he’d ever seen. “Excuse me?”
“She’s the spirit of the lost,” he explains without skipping a beat. “I’ve watched souls like yours chase after her to save her time and time again. Whoever you’ve lost, they’re at peace. You only have one direction left to go.”
“And what’s that?”
“Forward.” He smiles. “One foot in front of the other. One day, one minute, one second at a time. But don’t stop and stay in the past. You can only go forward because all that’s left for you back there is a black hole.”
“I miss her.” He sighs, slipping his phone in his pocket. “How can I possibly imagine a future without her?”
The man reaches and grabs his shoulder. “The greatest favor you can give her is living your life as she would’ve intended. And to do that, you need to move forward.” And with that he gave him a final smile and hobbled away, leaving Tony wondering what was so special about this beach. By the time he felt the urge to ask, however, the man had disappeared.