From dawn till dusk
Jill -Kramer Bryant
One evening at the end of a quiet, strange summer in August, Victoria took her dogs for a long walk on the beach. Several months has passed since she had been there with Peter and Rose. As she parked her car, she felt a sense of unease. However, it was a perfect summer evening, warm and wind still. The dogs played in the gentle waves and she walked all the way to the beach café.
She sat down in one of the comfortable chairs on the deck, ordered some tea for herself and water for the dogs. She waited and watched the orange sun setting on the motionless sea. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder, one she knew and turned in her seat to find Peter there unannounced. How he had known she was there, she did not know. Instinct. She felt his sense of sadness and the look of urgency in his eyes. Apart from the usual formalities and polite enquiries how they both were, their speech was stilted and after a while they left the café together and walked back along the sand. It was dusk nearly dark.
Peter took her face in his hands; His kiss was rough and hard on her lips, his hands tearing away at her t-shirt. He was totally determined and as they fell down into the soft dune sand, he entered her quickly. As he pulled away, Victoria felt confused, bruised and angry at his arrogance. This was not the Peter she thought she knew so well. “That’s what you wanted wasn’t it?” he asked. Victoria was at a loss for words. Not this way she thought. There was little conversation as they reached their cars, her dogs obviously tired and bored and ready to go home. As Victoria went to open her car, Peter took her in his arms. “I am sorry, I always seem to hurt you the most when I love you the most” he said “it’s always been like that, as if fate always tears us apart “. She knew he meant it with all his heart, it was familiar and she knew exactly what he meant.
As Peter drove away Victoria felt a sense of finality and foreboding. Peter had behaved so strangely. Never before in this lifetime had there been any sexual undertones in their relationship, the tenderness was gone, it was the end. The problem was she loved him too much she thought and this was not the right time or the right place for them. Peter just could not deal with it. She didn’t realize that this would be the last time she would see him alive.
As she closed up the cottage for the autumn, Victoria knew it was time to move on and away. She knew she would not be coming back here for a long time. She had dreamt it, had seen herself as an old lady walking by the cottage, with only her memories left of how it had been to comfort her. Victoria didn’t feel well, she was tired, withdrawn and felt as though she had no energy. It was strange, felt strange, she had no answers. She had tried so many times to contact Peter, but there was no response, and as the final summer days slipped away into autumn, the leaves turning and plants decaying away, it described how she felt. She did not understand his silence. Did not know what she had done wrong. It plagued her every waking hour. Even letters or notes brought no reaction and Elizabeth and Tony offered no comments, Victoria knew she could not ask.
As the autumn folded away, Christmas was approaching and for the first time in her entire life, Victoria was not swept up in the general excitement and anticipation of the Festive Season. She knew it was because she missed Peter so much.
One evening, completely out of the blue, her phone rang. It was Elizabeth. She sounded very distraught. “It’s Peter” she said, “You have to come now!” As Victoria reached the hospital she knew instinctively that she was too late. Peter was dead. Their meeting on the beach and their lovemaking, violent as it had been was the last time she had seen him as the physical person she knew as Peter. She came into the darkened room; Peter was lying in the bed, his face so pale, so white and so cold. Victoria felt too sick to cry. She hugged Elizabeth and Tony, unified in their grief.
A few days later Victoria stood at the lectern by Peter’s coffin. The smell of all the flowers made her feel dizzy and faint. With trembling hands she shuffled her papers and cleared her throat. No words came. She raised her tear swollen eyes and looked around the room. A sea of sorrow was all she could see, its waves washing all over her. So many people, so much sadness, it engulfed her totally. The Funeral Director looked at her anxiously and nodded as if to say, carry on. Victoria heard the door which opened and closed quietly, more latecomers she thought. No one turned in their seats and she realized she was the only one who could see Peter walking towards her, the familiar smile, and the same gust of wind. “I must be dreaming” she thought “either that or I have passed out”. She felt Peter’s fingers entwine around her own. Everyone was looking at her. Slowly but surely the words came. Anything was possible now Peter was at her side.
As the music started to play Elizabeth was looking at her intensely, clearly emotional at the words she was reading, but she gave no sign that she too could see Peter standing closely next to her. When she came to the end, everyone was in tears. She and Peter had known it would have this effect, when they promised each other long ago that they would read this when the other passed on. It was the story about all their journeys together, each and every time they crossed the rainbow bridge of colors, it said everything about them both; they had done it so many times before. Two souls linked together through the eternity of time, the past, the present and the future. Victoria stepped down and went back to her seat. As she sat down, she felt the first flutter of life in her womb, it was Peter’s gift and legacy to her, carrying on the blood line and she knew she had forgiven him. She thought back to the evening on the beach and knew why he had been so different. The physical Peter was gone, Victoria felt strangely comforted, that she could always find him in her dreams. He was part of her, always was and always would be until they came together again. He was the pale blue of Orion, she the pale pink of Angelica. Together they would open and close each day from dawn till dusk until such time that they would become the pale violet flame of oneness.