Short Story: “Seashells, Cider, and Sand”

“Seashells, Cider, and Sand”

(I don’t own this image – source)

There is a swimming hole a few meters above the sandy beach of Northern Bay that is fed by a brook, which then in turn feeds into the more popular waterfall on the beach. Here, sitting against a rock, Whitney sipped from her bottle of cider and dipped her toes into the secluded swimming hole. The waterfall here is less impressive than the one on the beach, but, because there were fewer swimmers here, if she wanted, she could swim out and sit underneath it and wash her hair or look out at the trees from behind the water. In the pool now was a big black Labrador chasing after a stick that an old man was tossing from the far side of the water. Whitney smiled and waved and the old man waved back.

Then, from behind her, a gust of wind blew past and scattered the leaves that had been resting beside her onto the water. She observed the movements of the leaves as they made their way through eddies and curves in the current that led to the sandy part of the beach. Some would give the illusion of autonomy and fight against the force of the water; others would simply become overwhelmed by the weight of the water and sink. But then there were those that managed to find that ineffable harmony within the moving stream – a harmony that at once seems so illusive and mysterious to consider, yet so simple to behold. Eventually, after gliding through each tiny whirlpool after another, they would all inevitably reach the ocean, which, from where she was sitting, was just beyond sight.

It was late afternoon. The heat of the sun began to fade, and the middle part of the day was starting to set in; that transitionary part of the day where plans for the evening started to take shape and loose commitments were being made. Whitney checked her watch and saw that she had been up here for almost an hour and decided to go find her friends who were down on the beach. She grabbed her bottle of cider and started to make her way down the trail.

“What’s up?” Whitney asked as she reached her friends.

“Just checking the job-wanted listings,” Penney responded, sipping from a Coors Light. “Why are you drinking that?”

“It tastes like honey. What’s wrong with the job you have now?”

“Well, I’m graduated now and I don’t want to work at a call center for the rest of my life.”

“I guess not.”

“Call centers are the textile factories of North America,” Oliver called out from behind his book. Penney rolled her eyes.

“You should come out west with me,” Rob said to Penney. You’ll make a grand a week, no problem.

“If I did, I probably wouldn’t be working in a camp like you would be,” Penney said.

“So where do you want to work?” Whitney asked.

“Hopefully at a bank,” Penney replied. “What about you? Where are you going to work now?”

“I don’t know,” Whitney replied. “I think I’ll keep working at the lab.”

“That whole fruit flies thing?” Rob asked.

“She could get published with that you know,” Penney pointed out.

“Really? Would they pay you a lot if that happened?” Rob asked.

“Depends who publishes it,” Oliver answered. “She’s not a PhD so it probably won’t be very much. Most if not all the money will likely go to her supervisor. I don’t understand why you don’t want to stay here,” he continued, speaking to Rob. “As an engineer you should stick around and support the industries. You should stay here, in the east.”

“Maybe I’ll come back in a few years after I’ve made some extra cash and things look good,” Ron replied.

“You ought to help your province,” Oliver said.

“Whatever,” Rob responded. “You’re starting your Masters so you don’t have to worry about actually getting a job for another couple of years. Besides, you’re not going to do your PhD here so eventually you’ll have to leave. And what happens if MUN doesn’t hire you on once you’re finished? You’ll have to go somewhere else then, too.”

“My academic career is only a back-up plan,” Oliver answered. “I plan on living downtown after I’m done my Masters and work on my novel. Whitney, you should start your Masters at MUN with me. What grad schools have you applied to?”

“None yet,” Whitney replied. “I’m not sure what I want to do. Depending on how things work out at the lab I might do some traveling before I finally decide.”

“South Korea?” Rob asked.

“I was thinking somewhere up north maybe,” Whitney answered. “I’d love to go hiking around the North West Territories. I might see if I can get a job teaching somewhere if there’s anything available.”

“South Korea is the Alberta for grad students,” Oliver pointed out. Penney and Rob both rolled their eyes.

(I don’t own this image – source)

They were sitting very close to the ocean and from they sat Whitney could hear seashells rolling as the waves continuously pushed and pulled, back and forth. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see the motion of the water and the formations it took in the waves as one crest fell into another. She watched as each wave, completely different than the one previous, would rise up, and in its climax display an infinite potentiality of all the possible shapes it could take and then crash, reassuming its former state within the ocean. Looking closer, she could almost see the tiny shells bounce and rub against each other, leaving traces of themselves on one another.

Reaching for her bottle of cider, Whitney took a sip and was reminded of the early mornings she had used to relax before starting her daily routine of class and study. She would wake up a few hours before class started so she could listen to music and drink tea without feeling rushed. The light amber glow of the cider in her hand was similar to the beads of honey she dripped into her tea every morning, looking into the orb as it slowly fell into the cup and peering into her reflection within the globe.

Tanya, who had been swimming came over and sat down next to the group.

“Let me guess, you guys are talking about work?” She said after examining their facial expressions.

“How was your swim?” Rob asked.

“Not bad,” Tanya replied. “It’s good to swim in the ocean because the waves make it more challenging. Got to stay lean for when I go south.”

“Behind Fort Mac,” Oliver stated, “the Dominican must have one of the highest concentrations of expat Newfoundlanders.” Tanya rolled her eyes.

“You must have gotten a great look at the coastline from where you were swimming,” Whitney said.

“Didn’t notice,” Tanya replied. “What are you drinking?”

“Cider.”

“Why?”

“It tastes like honey.”

*      *      *

I wrote a draft of this story while living in Ireland when I was feeling a little homesick. I drew on some of the ideas from The Tau Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff – a great book that I highly recommend. My Mother was born in Northern Bay (also known as Long Beach) and we have a cabin there, which is great during the summertime. Some of these pictures I took myself, actually.

cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on February 19, 2012.

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