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Out To The Dock

“Ernie, hun, please come back to bed with me.”

She stood on the back porch of their summer beach house in her nightgown. Her hair was slightly tangled in places, and her eyes were sunken deep into her cheeks. Her lips almost matched the color of her pale cheeks; makeup kept her young, but made her less human. Her hands flexed over one of the wood posts holding up the porch. He brown eyes weren’t beautiful, but they ignited with love—almost lust—for her husband all the time. She was always afraid of his walks on the dock at sunset. It was something she never liked seeing, being that the two things she feared most—losing her husband, and being around water—were mingled together.

“Hunny, please, come put me to bed.”

Ernie turned around and looked at her. She was the most beautiful woman he could have found. She had that hourglass curve, perfect, like an S on each side, just one flipped. He had an instant gust of love blown right through him—or was that the wind? Nothing else in the world seemed better than to be able to be the one to hold her every night, and he was the one that could do that. He always loved her, even from day one. She didn’t know that, but she loved him that way, too, and he hadn’t known that.
There was a letter written somewhere between the age of them dating and the time they got married . . . it was addressed to him. He was away, in the war, and was in his tent one day, on his belly, when he received the letter and read it. The words that were in the letter didn’t matter to him, although they were inspiring and reassured his love for her. It was the scent that mattered most to him. There was a hint of perfume that seemed to explode with every word written. Every day for the war, he would open that letter just once, read it, smell it, and then put it back in his pocket. That scent reminded him of the night he laid Lily to bed for the first time. The smell never left him, until he came home and got to hold it to his heart all the rest of the day. Her face was old now, however, and the writing she once wrote so perfectly in was now crippled by an arthritis that took her hands, leaving her once-neat cursive to look crooked and scribbled. One thing that never left her was her scent; it was a scent you couldn’t connect with anything else. Artificial in some ways, and in others, completely natural; it never dwindled. It was a scent that you would connect with pictures, like how a word is connected with objects or ideas. Her scent was like a field of open grass, unkempt, beautiful; like rays of sunshine breaching through the earth’s layers of protection, happily scattering itself across the sea, letting its array of colors refract through every crescent wave of water. . . .

Ernie winked at her and told her he loved her. Her eyes drifted down sadly for a moment, but then they realized she knew her place. She blew a kiss with her hand; it was subtle and sweet, not obnoxious or too much. The sun was coming low over the horizon, glowing dully like an orange dome of light at the end of a tunnel; the road through that tunnel was a sunlit street of water over the sea, attached to a boardwalk, and that boardwalk was attached to a hill of soft grass, which was underneath the house that Lily stood, her eyes alight with love. The sunshine could have been mistaken for the kiss that drifted through the air to a lover not quite too old for loving. Ernie reached up slowly and grabbed the kiss with one weak, shaking hand. I love you, he whispered with his breath. He turned around and walked down the fresh green earth to the dock.



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