Scene 5 The Cottage
After being parked in the shade of the pine tree for a few moments, John opens his door and immediately hears the cries of birds on the beach. The warm sea air rushes into the car along with the scent of pine and a hint of coconut oil.
He steps out and can feel and hear the crunching of shells, sand, pine needles and rock beneath his feet. He looks down, scanning the ground from his feet slowly past the trees to the sand path that leads to the dunes, past the Sea Oats to the beach where the sky and the horizon of the white sand and the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico meet. He is in a trance for a moment. He hears the seagulls cry out, he takes a deep breath and a calm, peaceful feeling comes over him. Ah, Sanibel Serenity.
Su gazes out, taking in the whole scene for a minute and wants to get the car unloaded so she can get down on the beach and get into her Sanibel frame of mind.
The trunk of the car pops open with a loud click making John look in the direction of the sound.
” Let’s hurry up and get this stuff unloaded, I wanna get to the beach,” Su says as she walks to the cottage door, fumbles with the lock for a second and then opens it. ” Wow … it’s bigger than I thought.”
John grabs several bags from the trunk and moves them to the wooden kitchen steps. ” What was that?”
” This place is much better than I expected. It looked smaller and kind of cramped in the pictures, but this is great!” Su says with a big smile.
John pokes his head inside and looks around at the inside real quick. ” Yeah, nice big kitchen, you can fit five people in here.”
” Look there’s a welcome basket,” Su says looking around the kitchen.
John drops some bags on the floor and walks over to the basket looking to see what is inside. Looking up to tell Su what’s in the basket, he sees her staring out at the beach from the kitchen window. He decides to let her have her time and continues unloading the car.
Su stares out the small kitchen cottage window in a trance. Nothing else matters to her in this moment and that is why she is here. All the cares of the world start to wash away as she stares out at the beach, the ocean and the sky. With nothing between them and the beach except a roped off pathway, some sand dunes and Sea Oats, this is wonderful to her.
She stares out at an old familiar sight, a wooden picnic table with a palm thatch roof located on the beach between the cottages and the sand dunes. A quick memory of her and John staying here last time in another cottage, a much smaller one comes to thought. They had a wonderful time then, even if it was a little cramped.
Su turns from the kitchen window to look around this new place. She loves it, it has so much more room.
Moving from the kitchen to the living room over the tiled floors she spots the large floor to ceiling double windows looking straight out at the beach.
” Right on the beach, any closer and we’d be dipping our toes in the ocean.”
This window’s view is much larger, with a more beautiful view than the small kitchen window. From here she can see a sandy footpath directly in front of their cottage that leads to the beach through the dunes, separated by a dune. There’s also another walk path that runs in front of the cottage to a path in another location not far from there for guests staying in other villas on that side of the property.
The living room and dining room are in one large room decorated in island theme and colors with the usual amenities, TV, cable, pullout couch, recliner chair and a day couch. There are also a couple of glass topped white wash painted wicker and bamboo table ends and a large matching coffee table.
At the large counter that separates the kitchen from the living room there are 4 natural wood, backless bar chairs.
Looking out the side window she can see all the way down the beach to the north. Australian Pines, sand dunes with Sea Oats gently bending in the breeze, some large leafed plants and other grasses and weeds she doesn’t know the name of. But knows they’re beautiful to look at.
She scans the ocean for dolphins and thinks she sees something. ” Oh!…” she exclaims out loud.
She looks intently at it then realizes she is looking at a buoy floating and bobbing on the waves and is a little disappointed. She watches the waves roll onto the beach for a few minutes, then shifts her attention to the rest of the cottage.
Opening and standing in the back doorway she looks at their patio deck just outside. It’s surrounded by a porch rail with square spindles and an angled board on top for leaning. There is a small set of steps that lead from the porch down to the paths. One path going straight out to the beach through the dunes and one in front of their cottage that runs from the pool to the other side of the complex that connect in a T. The deck has a typical exterior glass topped table, four plastic chairs and hand crank patio umbrella. On the side of the cottage there is an outdoor shower head and water spigot with a hose.
Just outside the porch there is a standup charcoal grill and a couple of mildew stained lounge chairs underneath a tall pine tree where pine needles blanket the ground.
Turning to the hallway she looks into the small bathroom and peaks in the small hall closet. Across from the small hall closet there is another larger closet with louvered double sliding doors. She opens it and sees a vacuum cleaner and a broom with dust pan clipped to it’s handle.
“ A vacuum? There’s no carpet.” she shakes her head and goes into the bedroom where she finds two separated double beds that are just the right height for her to lay down on without hurting her back.
With a big smile she lays down on one staring at the ceiling fan. The bed feels good on her back, she shuts her eyes for a moment and takes in her environment, feeling the peaceful energy of Sanibel.
Moments later she feels warm. ” Warm, the A/C.” She gets up to look for the thermostat and gives a little grunt standing up from the bed. John walks over to the thermostat and turns it down to 60. Su sees John turning the dial on the thermostat and says, ” I was just coming to do that.” ” Yeah, starting to get warm.”
” We’re supposed to turn it off when we’re not here,” Su reminds him.
” At the beach?”
” No, like when we go out for the day or something.”
” It stays on,” John says thinking about how hot it will get during the day.
” It’s too hot Su … Lucky, remember…”
” Oh yeah.”
“ We paid for it, don’t worry about it, it’s built into the price.”
” Conservation?” Su says.
” Yeah, I get it, I’m all for it but we are right on the beach and it’s dead summer.”
” You’re right, what’s left? Where’s Lucky?”
” He’s on the porch. After I unloaded everything I got him to the kitchen and he started slip sliding around on the tile and didn’t want to go through the kitchen, so I took him around to the porch. He likes it there.”
“ Oh poor puppy, let’s lay out a blanket for him. I saw one in that closet over there, grab it.”
John looks around, “ Which one?”
“ The one with flat doors.”
He opens the door smelling the faint smell of recently painted shelves and new wood. Grabbing the blanket he asks, ” Where at?”
” In front of the window.”
John lays out the blanket in front of the window and follows Su out to the deck to get Lucky.
” Oh look at him, he’s in doggy heaven. Look at him sniff, nose in the air.” She mimics Lucky and sticks her nose in the air. ” Mmm, smart dog,” she says and sniffs the air again.
Su approaches Lucky who’s lying in the sun at the edge of the patio looking out at the Gulf. Lucky licks his chops and starts wagging his tail making a thump, thump, thump sound that echoes a little bit through the patio. “ Hey puppy puppy… You remember this place? You like Sanibel, huh?” Lucky wags his tail harder. ” Come on, let’s go inside, moms gotta go to the beach, you watch the house.” Lucky gets up, gimps into the cottage looking around and slides on the floor a little bit upon entering.
Su clips on his leash and leads him to the blanket they laid out on the floor for him. He sees his humping pillow and knows this is his spot. He lays down, begins panting and noses towards his bowls, then watches Su and John while they get ready to go out to the beach.
Locking the door Su and John walk out to the beach.
Stepping out onto the pathway to the beach John sees large looming storm clouds coming their way. “ See those storm clouds?” Su looks up, then back down trying to focus on the shells in the sand and keeps walking.
” Looks like we only got a few minutes.” John says with a little bit of worry in his voice. Su keeps walking. John follows and they make their way onto the harder sand where the waves push the shells onto the beach.
Su immediately picks up a shell, then another and another. ” God, I love it here,” she exclaims. ” Yes,” John agrees.
John doesn’t want to ruin the moment for her but is concerned about the looming storm. He is deathly afraid of lightning. He considers himself a lightning rod because of almost being struck by lightning on several occasions in the past. But today, so long as lightning doesn’t strike the water he’ll cope with it for her.
For thirty minutes or more they stare down at the beach looking for the Junonia shell amongst the endless varieties of shells washed ashore while the sea foam and waves caress their feet on the soft sand. Nothing else in the world mattered, no problems, no worries, no bills, no concern about money, no anger, nothing but pure serenity.
Lightening clacks and John looks up. He sees that the storm is moving right at them and is very close. He can see lightning flickering in the clouds, with long dark streaks of rain draping down from the clouds about 5 miles from their position. John pokes at Su. ” Hey.” Su looks up at him and John points to the storm. Su stares at it for a moment and without a word turns around looks into the clear blue sky where the storm hasn’t made it’s way to yet and keeps walking.
John is caught off guard and stands watching in disbelief that she just turned her back on mother nature like that. He stays where he is waiting for the rain to start and for Su to get hit by the few rain drops that’ll make her head for the cottage.
No rain drops after a minute, none after another minute. John raises his eyebrows and walks briskly to catch up with her and then slows to her pace when reaching her.
After walking a ways up the beach staring at blue skies, he looks back and sees the storm has broken up and is clearing. He is amazed. ” I can’t believe you just did that and that just happened.”
” What?” Su asks.
” You just turned your back on that storm… Mother Nature… to clear blue skies and it was like Mother Nature respected you by not raining and making us go back to the cottage.”
Su smiles and nods her head while still looking for shells. John doesn’t ask any questions and an immense respect overcomes him for her.
” That was righteous man, freaking righteous!” he says shaking his head entering the water to look for rolling shells.
Shells still rolling in the tide. Many shells that roll in the tide are usually larger and in most cases better condition. In most cases, but not always, as he has learned. One time he grabbed for what he thought was a whole Rough Pen Shell out of the tide, to find half of one side was broken off and large holes were in the whole side.
He reaches for another one and lo and behold it’s a good one!. He holds it up for Su to see and Su waves to him smiling. He continues his search, reminding himself that he has to find Su a Junonia. He takes out his cigarette case, looks at the detailed picture he drew for a mental note and tries to focus on just shells that look similar to it. He finds a piece of a shell that has similar markings to the one they are looking for and gets excited. He walks over to Su with his hand out.
” You found one?!” she asks in an excited tone.
” No nothing magnificent yet, maybe a piece.”
Su inspects the shells he has collected so far. ” Nope, that one is an alphabet cone shell I think.”
” Darn, and kinda scary.” John says.
” Scary?!” Su asks.
” Yeah, while I was digging around on the internet for information on the Junonia, I read that the alphabet shell has a poisonous critter in it. It can kill you.”
” Really? I didn’t know that, hmm.”
” Yeah we gotta tell the kids and remind them to be careful.”
” Yeah, the last thing we want is someone to get hurt.”
” Killed!… They will kill you!….. ” John says with conviction.
” Ok okay, just sayin’.” he says as he puts his head down and hands in the air. Su shows John an orange-ish paper thin semi transparent round shell about the size of a nickel. ” I really like these,” she says. John looks at it and makes a mental note. ” Yeah, those are cool. I’ll find some more for ya. I thought you liked the little pointy cone looking ones.”
” I do, I like these too and these and these and these … oh look at this one, it’s got an orange stripe on it and all purple.”
John smiles, ” Yeah! Nice one, ew looky there.”
” Look at that pointy one right there, ” John says as he reaches for her nipple. Su giggles and pulls away covering her breasts with her arms, ” John, God! You’re such a brat.”
John chuckles. ” I love you baby.” Leaning in and giving him a kiss she says ” I love you too.”
” Sanibel.” she says looking around.
” Is it starting to sink in yet?”
” Yes! It actually started when we crossed the bridge, but yes it’s ” sinking in”. It feels so good. ” She stares down the beach and gazes.
The sky is gray and clouds are moving quickly covering the sun. The wind has picked up and is blowing sand in sheets across the beach that is mixing with spray mists coming off the Gulf. The waves are capping off low and pushing themselves onto the beach with a silvery glow.
Su points north, ” Bowman’s Beach is that way, when the kids get here we’ll take them there. Looks like we won’t get to see the sunset today.”
” Watch it through the clouds?” he asks.
” It’s so peaceful and serene here, I could live like this forever.” she says.
” Well, let’s look into it.”
Su looks away from John letting the wind blow in her face and push her short blonde hair back. She looks down at her feet, running her toes in the sand and nods. ” I’m getting hungry and I bet Lucky has got to pee, he probably wants to chase and bite the waves too.”
John realizes that he just messed up the moment for her a little bit by breaking her train of thought and making her think of the situation outside of the here and now and feels bad. ” Yeah, after you.”
” Beside me,” she says.
” Yep, not in front, not behind, beside.”
” Well behind you isn’t too bad, that cute butt and calves.”
John smiles at her. She smiles at him and they make their way back to the cottage along the beach. Stopping for a moment to look at the cottage from the beach, they see Lucky laying in front of the window staring out.
” Take a picture.” Su says.
” Don’t have the camera.”
” I want a picture of that,” she says staring intently. ” Ok when we come back from Lucky’s walk. It’ll be lit up with light too, from it being dark out here and light on in there it should be a good picture”
” It’s a pretty good size, even from out here it looks bigger than I thought it would be.”
” Yeah, it’s a pretty good size, ” John says.
“ And right “on” the beach!” She says with a big smile.
They both smile and walk up the path through the dunes, keeping an eye out for critters and sticker patches. When they get to the cottage they try to figure out the shower, but can’t for some reason. They rinse their feet off in the hose, put their shells on the table for later and go inside to take Lucky for his walk.
Copyright © 2012 by John Edward Petersen