Taste of Sand - 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

The second part, and end, of a romantic short story with settings in Naples, Florida.

Taste of Sand - 2

 

And then Roman stood there, waiting for a bite. He felt so utterly lonely. Thinking of Annice, he first sank to his knees with tears in his eyes. Then, he lay flat on his belly, longing for her, and for the first time, he had the taste of sand in his mouth…

 

There was an old lady who came by. She lived near the beach in a multimillion-dollar mansion and was said to be extremely rich. Nevertheless, she got up very early every morning, even before the B-29 bombers sprayed Naples with the mosquito-killing chemicals. On the beach, she didn’t come to jog, as some other Naples residents did. She was a beachcomber and was always on the lookout for things that had value, however small, and that she could possibly sell at the Saint Peter’s flea market where she had a stall every Sunday.

 

Now, she just had found the fossil of a Megalodon shark tooth. She was quite happy with what she had found, as she reckoned that she might easily sell the massive tooth for ten dollars, maybe even twenty.

 

When she had put the find in her small rucksack, she saw a man lying on his belly in the sand, only a couple of feet from the surf. At first, she thought it was a corpse. But when the body moved, she knew that she had thought wrong. Maybe this man was hurt, or sick, or he was drunk, sweating out a hangover. The old lady carefully went nearer to see what was wrong with the man. As she was only ten feet from him, Roman heard her coming. He lifted his head and spit out some sand.

 

“I’m sorry, madam,” he mumbled. “I’m a foreigner. My name is Roman. I didn’t want to frighten you…”

 

“Nice to meet you, Roman, I’m Lucille Weatherby. You didn’t scare me,” she said. “I've seen other and more frightening things in my life. Are you alright?”

 

“If you mean physically… Yes, I’m alright. I’m not sick or hurt. Don’t worry.”

 

“Physically… You mean that you’re not alright mentally?”

 

“You could say I’m not,” replied Roman. “But don’t worry, it will soon be over…”

 

“Come on,” said Lucille. “You’re not alright. My guess is that you’re heavily depressed, maybe desperate. Someone who eats sand always is. It’s a sign of mere despair… You need someone to talk to before you get stupid and do something to yourself. I wouldn’t want you to wade into the sea and drown yourself… Come with me to my house. It’s nearby. We’ll have a coffee together, and then you can tell me what’s on your mind and what’s depressing you.”

 

Roman went with Lucille Weatherby to her mansion. Over coffee, he confided in her, and he told her all his sadness, his frustration, and the pain he had because of his hopeless love for Annice, the beautiful and unreachable seventeen-year-old Annice…

 

“Did you tell her that you love her? Did you try to get a date with her?” asked the old woman.

 

“No, I didn’t. There is an enormous age difference between the two of us, Lucille… It’s completely out of the question that I declare my love to her. I might get into trouble. She would most certainly laugh at me.”

 

“Nonsense! There are a lot of older men who have young women as wives, or lovers. You should have told her. At seventeen, she’s an adult, and she’s nubile. I bet you she’s not a virgin anymore… So, don’t hesitate, and grab your chance!”

 

“This is America. Where I live in Europe, it’s unthinkable that a man of my age tries to conquer a seventeen-year-old girl. He could even get in serious trouble with the law if he did try to seduce her.”

 

“Can be, but you should have told her that you have feelings for her. You still can, however. Have you got her phone number?”

 

“No, I haven’t. What do you mean?”

 

“Well, what time is it now in your part of the world?” 

 

“Around eleven at night, I guess, maybe a little earlier or later.”

 

“What’s her full name, and in what town does she live? I’m going to find out her number, and I’ll call her. Let’s hope she hasn’t yet gone to bed. Just a moment.”

 

Roman doubted that what the old woman wanted to achieve would have any success, but he was curious nevertheless while Lucille started talking on the phone to an operator to find out Annice’s number. And, as if there is a God who cares for people in love, after less than ten minutes she dialed the European number, and seconds later Annice was on the phone. Lucille told Annice who she was, and then she handed the phone over to Roman.

 

Annice was flabbergasted to hear Roman’s voice.

 

“Where are you, mister Roman?” she asked.

 

“In the United States. To be more precise, in Naples, Florida. It’s on the Gulf of Mexico.”

 

“And may I ask why you phone me? I was ready to go to bed.”

 

“Well, it’s a bit hard to tell you. Anyway, it’s so nice to hear your voice again, after all this time…”

 

“Is it so hard to tell me? It must be important if you phone me from so far away… Please, don’t be shy. Tell me why?”

 

Roman swallowed, but he bit the bullet:

 

“Well Annice, I have fallen in love with you, already some time ago. I didn’t dare to tell you, but I can’t forget you. Every day, my love for you is growing stronger. Maybe you think that what I tell you is ridiculous, or pathetic, so be it… That’s it. There is nothing more to say. Sorry if I hurt your feelings.”

 

There was a short silence on the other side of the line. Then, Annice said in a soft voice:

 

“You didn’t hurt my feelings at all. In fact, I’m flattered. Useless to say that what you have in mind is impossible, sorry. I have some feelings for you, I must admit, but… You certainly understand what I mean. We have to be realistic. I have a future before me that, for you, is part of your past. Even if there are mutual feelings, responding to them is totally out of the question…”

 

“Please, Annice, tell me: if we would be about the same age, would you consider us to come together in our love for each other? Maybe stay together for the rest of our lives?”

 

“Love is a much too strong word for me, Roman. I would call it infatuation, nothing more. And, sadly enough, we aren't about the same age… I’m so sorry.”

 

Tears came to Roman’s eyes. He put down the phone, thanked the hospitable Lucille Weatherby, and went back to the beach to get his fishing gear. Once back in the open air, despair suddenly overtook him. He ran ahead, blindly, and he wept with long sobs. Tears flowed profusely down his cheeks, preventing him from seeing exactly where he was going. 

 

Before he got back to where he had left his fishing tackle, he tripped three more times, and three times he fell face forward in the sand and tasted it again in his mouth as it gritted between his teeth... He wanted Annice with him, but she was not there. 

 

When he finally found his fishing gear, Roman stood still for a moment, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Then he turned away from the water and held his head in the direction of where he thought that Annice lived. 

 

Against the wind, he desperately shouted her name, three times in a row, but there was no answer…


 

© Bruno Roggen, Anhée, 2021

 

 


Submitted: May 07, 2021

© Copyright 2021 impetus. All rights reserved.

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