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Shallow Waters, Deep Secrets

by Mary Haynes 11 months ago in fiction
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Birds Eye View

Photo Mary Haynes

Jen walked the beach every sunset no matter what the weather was. She loved her freedom. Even when the wind screeched in her ears and sandblasted her skin, she always felt renewed. She stopped each night at the spot on the beach where pebbles gathered in a pile. Jen gazed out at the horizon and whispered into the wind, “Pierre, let the fish dissolve you and your sins, and may you rot in hell.”

One night in late October, the wind roared, and the waves battered the shoreline. The spot where the pebbles gathered had vanished, completely engulfed by the surf. Jen shuddered as she uttered the usual chant. A flash of lightning lit the skies, illuminating an ominous cloud that rapidly rolled across the water. Jen flinched as a heron flew along the shore in front of her. As the storm approached the beach, the rain pelted the sand and Jen raced up the beach and home through the empty village streets.

Photo Mary Haynes

Dropping her wet clothes in the hall, she flicked on the fireplace in the living room, then went to shower. Even though the water was hot, Jen couldn’t stop shivering. She dressed in her warmest pajamas and her cozy robe and reached for a snifter and the bottle of brandy. The fireplace flickered, shadows played on the walls of the darkened room. Jen sipped on brandy until the memories of ugly words and angry fists faded enough to let her try to sleep.

Awakening at dawn, Jen still couldn’t shake the feeling of dread from the night before, but she had to focus. Today was the final meeting with the estate lawyer and her husband’s estate would be settled. She could finally move on with her life. She sighed and muttered, “Karma is a bitch, Pierre!”

The morning at the lawyers couldn’t have been smoother. By noon everything was settled, and the funds were deposited into her account. It was an easy process, they had no children, Pierre had been adamant about that. Pierre’s previous wife had apparently died on a trip to Columbia. Jen suspected that it was not of natural causes.

After making herself Pasta Diablo and enjoying several glasses of celebratory champagne, Jen grabbed her jacket and headed to the beach. The sand was cluttered with debris from the storm. Old tires, pieces of rotten decking, large stones, and driftwood were everywhere. The pebble pile had re-emerged, but a large tree had washed ashore and rested on top. It was still partially submerged in the calm waters.

Jen felt the chill in the air from the cold water rising into the warm night. She started her chant, but noticed the heron on the tree, silhouetted by the misty sunset. She never considered herself superstitious, but the re-appearance of the heron rattled her. It was beautiful and eerie at the same time.

Photo by Mary Haynes

“Well, we meet again, Big Blue. Until last night, I hadn’t seen you for a while, not since, well you know.” Jen watched as the heron hopped down onto a lower branch and stared into the water. The heron pecked at something in the water and after a struggle flew back to its perch to enjoy its catch.

Jen saw a flash of silver and smiled, “Good catch, Blue, you snagged yourself a shiny smelt.”

The heron raised its head and Jen saw that the heron didn’t have a smelt. It was holding a bloated finger with a silver wedding band. It pecked away at the flesh as the twilight played on the silver band.

Photo by Mary Haynes

Jen shrieked and startled the heron. It flew away with its treasure. The light waves lapped at the tree, and she realized something was tangled in the submerged branches. Jen waded into the cold water.

Bright light from an all-terrain vehicle shone directly on Jen as she stood thigh-deep in the water. “Hey, lady, did you lose something? It’s way too cold for you to be searching for something in the water at night. We’ll help you find what you’re looking for.”

The lights from the Beach Patrol vehicle lit up the water and a gentle wave pushed a body free from the sunken tree. Jen heard the beach patrol hail the police on the walkie-talkie. They called in a 10-54.

She screamed, “Pierre, you bastard, why couldn’t you stay in hell?”

Photo by Mary Haynes


About the author

Mary Haynes

Mary Haynes splits her time between a romantic old sailboat in tropical waters and a beach home in Ontario. A wanderer, by fate, she embraces wherever she roams! Mary recently completed her first children’s book, “Who Ate My Peppers?”

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