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One Last Time


Sitting on the damp sand not far from the water's edge, Felicia watched as the sun slipped from the horizon beneath rolling clouds that promised yet more rain.  The salty ocean breeze carried her back in time to their first meeting here at this very spot. She had just completed Jr. High that summer; Toby was two years older.  Her dad had frowned at their budding romance, but her mom had smiled and told her to follow her heart.  Her mother had always trusted her to use good sense, and she'd never let her down.  

After that, they met up every summer as the their families returned to the same cottages year after year.  In the months between they exchanged countless texts and emails, and spent an hour or more every night talking on their cellphones until one or the other drifted off to sleep.

When Toby graduated from high school he joined the Air Force, just as his grandfather had two generations earlier. Felicia understood that he felt this was his destiny, but their first summer apart was the hardest of her life.  She drew hearts in the sand and sent him  pictures, then watched as the waves wash them away. 

The summer following Felicia's graduation was the most exciting time of her life. She and Toby were getting married on the beach when he came home on leave.  All their friends and family gathered at sunset in a fairytale ceremony complete with tiki torches, bare feet, coconut drinks, and flower leis for everyone.  Felicia and Toby were deeply in love; it was a magical time in their lives.

Toby returned to duty, and soon received orders sending him to Iraq.  Felicia began college and tried hard to focus on the time when his dangerous tour of duty would be over; when once again they would stand hand-in-hand at the water's edge and plan their future together.

Then came the night when she answered the knock at her apartment door to see her father standing there sober-faced, with an Air Force officer along side him.  Felicia began to tremble, sensing that her world was about to fall apart.  The officer informed her that Toby's plane had been shot down during an encounter with the enemy.  American forces had recovered the plane along with Toby's remains, there hadn't been time for him to eject before it crashed.  Felicia crumpled into her father's arms.

The following weeks had been a blur of people coming and going; Felicia was too dazed to remember most of it.  She stood at the funeral service as the young Airmen folded the flag that had flown with Toby's squadron in Iraq and handed it to her for safekeeping.  She didn't cry, couldn't cry, not yet. She had to be brave for him, just as he had been brave.

Then finally it was over, families hugged and parted, leaving  her alone with the small box that she now cradled in her arms.  Then, as the sun disappeared and the shadows of night moved slowly in, Felicia did what Toby had always said he wanted, she walked down the beach slowly scattering his ashes on the waves as they slipped back out to sea, setting him free to become one with the very source of life.

Task finished, she began the long, slow walk back to the beach house she had rented so she could be near him for just a little while longer, Toby's dogtags now jangling from the chain around her neck. The heavy skies opened up and began to weep, and Felicia folded onto the sand and wept with them.
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This post is linked up at Two Shoes Tuesday
where the prompt this week is "sea"
TWO SHOES TUESDAY

10 comments:

  1. Oh my word, this is so heartbreakingly beautiful. So sad to never know what their future together could have been. This story struck on so many levels for me, and I could almost feel the air heavy with brine, and smell the scent when rain is on the way.

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

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    1. Thank you Carrie, for stopping by and taking the time to leave such a supportive comment!

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  2. For all the sadness in this tale I also see the parallel to mine where the need to get back to the sea in somehow inherent. Beautiful, touching and sadly so relevant; another great story.

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    1. Thank you Old Egg! Yes, I wanted to include that sense of beauty, peace and longing. I feel it inside myself, the draw of the ocean, and I think it would be a lovely way to dispose of one's remains!

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  3. A very touching story, Josie. It was lived out here in the U.S. 4,486 times when U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2012. Over 100,000 Iraqui military were killed. Britain had the second highest death count of the coalition forces.

    My poem also was a return to the sea after a weekend shore leave for the crew telling their story. It was made-up. Our cruise ship stopped at a port often during our 14 day with no more that two consecutive days at sea.
    ..

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    1. I am all too aware of the reality behind this created scene, Jim. The very thought of it rips at my heart, and I wanted to include that with my story. It wasn't just any death that separated them so young.

      I sensed that the beginning of your post was a tale of what it might be like to be onboard for reasons other than a pleasure cruise, and I was certainly hoping your menu was more varied! :-) I liked the contrast of the two experiences very much!

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  4. Josie... once again I have goosebumps from your story. Unfortunately this is such a realistic tale... I just hope that this does not happen to my daugther... we only have 35 days to go... keep your fingers crossed!!

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    1. I'm believing that your son-in-law will be fine, Brenda! My son returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq safely, but I didn't reallly breathe deeply until he was back on American soil. I smile when I think of the adventure your daughter is going to have living overseas. I spent two-and-a-half years as a "military dependent" in Germany back in the 1970's, and those memories will last a lifetime. It was a great learning experience. In fact, my son was born there! :-)

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  5. I love the imagery of the hearts in the sand. I used to do the same thing when I was younger. Usually with an uppercase K. Guess I was a bit of a narcissist!

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    1. That sounds perfect to me Kristina, nothing wrong with a bit of self-love! My husband drew me a heart in the sand, wrote our names in it, and decorated it with seashells, Kristina - very romantic!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)