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The Beach

Midnight. My feet sink into the sand as I stand on the edge of the water, watching the waves break in the dim light of the moon. One after another they crash against the shoreline, depositing seaweed, shells, driftwood, and other things, both living and non-living, onto the beach.

For the past week I’ve been here every night, standing between two man-made jetties, watching the waves. From time to time I look out into the inky black void of the ocean. Though I can’t see it there’s a spot out there, straight ahead, where I’d piloted my yacht exactly one week ago tonight. I’d always wanted to own a pleasure craft, but never had the time or money. Then I sold my company and finally had the means to live my dream. To sail the sea, if only for a few hours at a time.

My wife often joined me on these excursions. It didn’t take long for us to discover that she had sturdier sea legs than me. She would laugh when I’d turn the boat around and head back to the bay, and I’d find myself getting angry at the sound. But there was a time when I loved her laugh. Over the years, however, things began to change. The things I once loved about her, I no longer loved. Her laughter had come to grate on me.

It seemed that as my business grew, along with my bank account, my love for my wife waned, almost in direct proportion. Younger, more beautiful women became available to me. I knew their attention was directly tied to my finances, but I didn’t care. I felt like a big shot. I was living large.

My wife saw the signs, of course. I made little effort to hide my dalliances. But she stuck with me, despite my indiscretions. At the time, I felt as though I was in the enviable position of having my cake and eating it too. But now, looking back, I wish she hadn’t been so accommodating. I wish she would have divorced me. She didn’t, though, for reasons of her own, perhaps thinking it was a phase I would outgrow. And I didn’t divorce her, though I’d toyed with the idea. But I was too greedy. I didn’t want to share my wealth, not if I didn’t have to.

Inhaling deeply, I smell the crisp ocean air as I watch the waves break. My mind drifts back to that night a week ago when my wife had suggested a midnight cruise. We’d drifted to a spot directly in front of where I’m standing now, but many miles out, in what seemed like the middle of the ocean. It was enjoyable at first, but then an argument broke out between us. I don’t even remember what is was about. But soon it turned ugly. We tussled, and I pushed her overboard.

Our eyes met as she floundered in the water. Surprisingly, I saw no shock in her expression, no fear. What I saw was profound anger, a seething hatred. It was chilling. She began swimming to the boat, but I motored away. A short while later, I had second thoughts. Going back, I tried to locate her but couldn’t see her through the chop. She was gone.

I reported her missing at sea. The authorities questioned me, but there was no suspicion of foul play. A search was organized. It went on for days.

Her body has yet to be found.

That’s the part I’m having trouble with. The part I can’t accept. It’s the reason I come down to the beach every night. Unlike the authorities, and even her own family, I don’t believe my wife is dead. I believe she’s still out there, trying to get back. She’s a strong woman, strong of mind, body and spirit. When she puts her mind to something, it gets done.

I know she wants justice, to see me in prison. I saw it in her eyes the moment she’d hit the water. And so I stand here every night, with my pistol in my hand, watching the waves, expecting to see her again.

Expecting her to make it home.

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