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Dedicated to Allison
Submitted by John
As always, the sun seemed to caress me. Eleanor's grip upon my arm was reassuring as I lifted my walker. It didn't feel as cumbersome as it usually did, and I moved with forgotten haste.
"Be careful, dear. You don't want to break another hip."
"The sand wouldn't hurt me," I replied, somewhat breathless. "It never has."
I savored the beach with my eyes. It reminded me of a crescent moon, curving as it did into the distance. Beyond its reach I watched a sailboat jostle with the wind. The craft was like a mare among the waves, dipping as they crashed into her bow, rearing upward, tossing aside the frothy water. Though my eyes were weary from eight decades of use, I saw long hair streaming behind the captain.
"She handles her well," I said, pausing at the water's edge.
"Would you like to be out there?"
"Oh, Elle. Those days are gone. But I couldn't be happier than I am now."
I saw the ageless beauty of her smile as she unbuttoned my shirt. Soon I stood bare but for my swimming suit. As did she. We held hands as we shuffled into the water. It rose above our ankles, knees, then waist. The lagoon sheltered us from the sea's vigor and we bobbed in miniature swells. I groaned in pleasure, my joints suddenly free of gravity's curse.
"Close your eyes, my love," I whispered, reaching into the pocket of my swimsuit. I placed my gift between her fingers. "Happy anniversary."
Elle's confusion was obvious as she inspected the quarter. "I don't understand."
"Look carefully, honey."
"Well, it's from 1949, the year we were married."
"That's right. The day of our wedding I found it on the street. I thought it was a good omen."
"You've kept it all these years?"
"Because I found you," I replied. "Because I couldn't imagine our love being any greater."
I pulled her close. She kissed my neck, then my weathered brow. "Fifty-one years," she muttered. "They've gone so quickly."
"That means we've done well."
I thought of our children. Both had left Hawaii for careers on the mainland. Beth was a concert pianist in New York. Paul spent his days digging for dinosaurs in Montana. They'd come last year of course, and we'd celebrated our 50th with grandchildren and gusto.
"We've done wonderful," I finally replied.
"Nothing that a moment with you won't cure."
"Thank you, Gus. Thank you for my beautiful gift."
"You're the gift, Elle. No other way to look at it."
In the weightlessness of the water she jumped into my arms. I cradled her like an infant, holding her close. The gentle swells brought us together, apart, and together again. When I kissed her she was crying.