By Martin Falatic
Written 1996-08-22 22:00
Revised 1997-03-27, 2010-08-04
Once upon a time, there lived an old man by a distant shore. He’d spent his better years tending a lighthouse, raising his family, watching his daughters marry and move away… now alone, for his wife had passed on many years before. He would spend his days watching the surf come crashing in. This evening he sat as he had for many years, watching the sun fall into the western sea, deep in quiet contemplation. A young woman’s voice from behind brought him suddenly out of his reverie. “Why do you watch the sea?”, she asked. He turned to her, flustered. “What the devil do you… think…” he began. His jaw fell slack, as he realized he was yelling at what was, to his eyes, a fragile, beautiful thing. “I’m sorry… you shouldn’t go sneaking up on people like that…” Her lips twisted in a sad smile. “Why do you watch the sea?” she asked again… He stared at her, long-lost emotion welled up from within, making him slightly edgy yet strangely sanguine. He sighed and settled back into his chair. “Because, I am alone, and the sea is my only refuge from the awful silence of my dreams.” She touched him lightly on the shoulder. “Come with me,” she said kindly. He felt surprisingly comforted and, pleased for the company, they walked out together to the shoreline.
The sun was just touching the sea as they reached the edge of the beach. They stood there, letting the water lap at their feet. She put her arm around him, hugging him in a friendly way from the side. His heart ached as he looked out to the setting sun, his lonely soul crying out to the salty abyss. She took his hand and led him into the water, and together they swam slowly out. A long way from the shore they stopped. He began to worry at the depths they were in. “I think we should head back…” he began, but as he looked into her eyes, he saw something he – no, it couldn’t be! – something he remembered… “Come with me into the dying light, my love,” she said with a warm smile. She swan out past the breakers, and he followed, as the moonless night enveloped them.
Three days later he was found, washed ashore not far from where he left. They say he had a strange look about him, almost contented. No one knew what brought him out into the water, what strange and sad longing took his life and at the same time renewed him. For his days of watching the sea were over… his wife had come to take him home.