The Mission: A Day at the Beach (part 7)

Deborah Hendrick on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Elijah was waiting on the deck when Ginny returned from her sunrise run. She’d hoped the hard exercise would clear her head, but there stood trouble again: Six feet, three inches, two hundred pounds, black-coffee eyes, and close-cropped curly brown hair. Killer dimple in his left cheek.

“I’ll fix breakfast while you bathe,” Eli said. He cut fresh grapefruit, cooked bacon and eggs, and ground beans for indescribably fragrant coffee–Pluma Tres Oros. As soon as Eli heard the water cut off he called out to her, “I’m sorry, come on! It’s ready now.”

Ginny came to the table with her hair wrapped in a dark blue towel and wearing a voluminous gold wrap with “NAVY” embroidered in huge blue letters across the back. Eli realized it was a boxer’s robe, probably Ace’s. A nice touch of brotherly intimidation, and Ace wasn’t even there.

“We’re always eating–have you noticed that?” asked Eli.

“All I’ve done since you showed up is gain weight. This is delicious, by the way. Not many people know to scramble the eggs so slowly, and this coffee is heavenly. May I have some more? What kind of donuts did you bring?

“I hope you’ll forgive me,” he said. “I didn’t think you’d eat many, so I got what I like best–old fashioned sour cream cake.”

“Ha!” she laughed. “Nice try. I never met a donut that I didn’t like.”

They finished their meal and stacked the dishes in the sink. “I’ll take care of these later,” said Ginny, “but now I have to comb out my hair, or it will be a mess. I usually do it on the deck, if you want to bring the coffee pot. I’ll get dressed and join you in a minute.”

Ginny stood in the hot morning sun and carefully, patiently, combed out her wet hair while Eli watched. He wanted to comb out the curls for her–bury his hands and face in the curls–but he always felt like he was on the heart-pounding edge of the envelope with Ginny, where there was no room for error. It made him extremely cautious.”If you’re going to fish, you need to get started,” she said, “before it gets too hot.”

“I bought some bait on the way in. You’re right; I’d better get started if we’re going to have fish for supper.”

While Eli waded into the warm surf, Ginny waded into the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. Then she stood on the deck for a long time, and watched Eli, standing thigh-deep in the aqua-white surf, casting over and over again into the deep water. She studied him carefully, storing up the scene like she was going to paint it, storing up the memory of his broad shoulders and strong arms. She could see the muscles flex in his back, while the surf broke around him and sparkled in the morning light.

Her drawings were finished, but she obsessively checked and rechecked them for details and continuity. Then she lined them up in order around the living area, and read out loud again, the story of the girl and her lamb. Ginny was as emotionally invested in the story as the author.

“I stopped at five red snapper, and threw the others back,” said Eli, coming through the door. “Ace told me last time we fished that you didn’t like to keep fish in the freezer, in case the power went off when you weren’t here.”

“That, and fresh fish just taste so good; I’m willing to wait for fresh-caught or do without. And the neighbors bring me fish all the time. But let’s have them for lunch,” Ginny said, giving him a pan to put them in after he cleaned them, “and here’s a cold beer as reward for your efforts.”

Remembering that he’d promised to be quiet, Eli took his beer, and took his time downstairs.

They prepared lunch together. Eli peppered the fillets then grilled them in fresh-squeezed lemon juice and olive oil, while Ginny made a salad and toasted bread. He touched her ever-so-lightly, only when necessary, as they moved about the small kitchen. It was a happy moment for him, a little peek into a life not his. They took their time over the meal, and when Ginny protested that she couldn’t eat another bite, Eli polished off the rest of the fish and bread. Then he ate donuts for dessert.

After the dishes were done, Eli stood in the living room and carefully studied Ginny’s drawings. “I can follow the story up to here,” he said, pointing to the picture of two men sitting side by side on stools in a diner, “but now I’m lost.”

“The man on the right, the farmer, is the little girl’s father,” said Ginny. “The farmer is telling the businessman how he’s afraid his daughter is going to be disappointed at the livestock show, that no one will bid on her lamb because it’s not perfect. The businessman tells the father not to worry, that everything will work out. Now you see the little girl in the show ring with the lamb, and the businessman is bidding on it. In the next one, two other men are bidding too, but he outbids them and buys the lamb.”

“In this drawing,” she said, “they are standing around talking about what the businessman wants to do with the lamb. He proposes an idea that lets the little girl keep the lamb during the winter, but in summer the animal will come in and work at the man’s fenced equipment yard on the edge of town, where he keeps old cars and used oil field equipment. He’ll check on the lamb every day and make sure it has plenty of fresh water and a shelter, and the lamb will eat the grass and weeds so the yard won’t needed to be mowed so often. He’ll be the most important lamb in town, one with a job. So now we see the businessman and the little girl watching the lamb, who is hard at work. Everyone is happy. The End.”

“You’re right; it’s a wonderful story. Let me know, please, when the book is available, because I want one,” said Eli, holding one of the drawings. “Now I think I’ll read the newspaper and take a nap, if that would please you,” he said.

“The deck is too hot now for sleeping in the hammock, but the sofa on the east wall is the family favorite for napping,” said Ginny, fluffing the throw pillows. Eli turned on the table lamp, and made himself comfortable on the sofa, spread out his paper and promptly fell asleep.

While he slept, Ginny trimmed her drawings, and prepared them for shipping. Then she stretched out on the other sofa. She didn’t think she’d sleep, but she did, and when she woke Eli was sitting up, reading the funnies, and laughing. “Ginny,” he said, “let’s go do something fun. Isn’t there a night club where we can go dancing or something?”

“There’s a paddle-wheel boat that has dinner and dance cruises, but I don’t know if we can get on this late in the day without reservations.”

“Why don’t you put on something pretty while I phone. I brought a change of clothes with me; one way or another, we’re going dancing.”

Ginny showered in Chanel No.5 bath gel, and carefully made up her face. Her hair was too thick and curly to coax into a French roll, but she piled it on top of her head in a 21st Century version of a Victorian miss, with little tendrils falling here and there. She had only one after-five dress in the closet, a vintage 1950s Christian Dior. Peacock blue and ballerina length, with layers of chiffon crossed over the breast, and countless yards gathered into an impossibly tiny waist, and a matching stole. She studied the boxes of shoes in her closet. With a regretful shake of her head, she slipped on strappy black sandals that took her height of five feet, nine inches to a stunning six feet. Ginny studied herself in the mirror, and added dangling diamonds to her ears, then sailed through the door.

Elijah had gone downstairs to the outdoor shower to clean up and get dressed. He wore black trousers, and a crisp white on white tropical shirt with embroidered hibiscus. “Ginny Gregg! You are beautiful. I should be wearing a dinner jacket. You should have a corsage. We’ll drink champagne all night. I feel like I’m in a time warp!” He looked at her feet. “Can you really dance in those?” he asked.


Technorati : ,

Topics: The Mission


Leave a Comment