It’s almost ironic how what killed him brought her peace. She never really knew her uncle; he had been the one in the family who didn’t follow the rules. He lived his life the way he wanted to, not saying it was a good life by any stretch but still his life and no one else’s. He was her dad’s brother and an alcoholic, which was the ironic side to things. She didn’t have the money to go home for the viewing, not like a lot of family would be there, maybe her dad, his parents and his sister might fly in. She wanted to be there for moral support more than anything else, she couldn’t imagine losing her brother to something so horrible and so she wanted to be there to hold her dad’s hand during this hard time.
She walked into the bar, she had never been to this one before, not like she walked into a lot of bars that weren’t the one she worked in but still she hadn’t even thought about this one before. It was right on the water, a great tourist spot, so she wasn’t “alone”. She ordered a shot of run and just sat there, staring at the brown liquid in the glass. She wanted to take a drink, to forget she wouldn’t be home, and that she wasn’t able to do anything for her family. What kind of child was she that she would leave her family to live out her own life the way she wanted to? It wasn’t glamorous and she wasn’t going to college, she was living on the beach, working and getting a tan and…happy. She didn’t want the life her parents had planned for her, the life they had worked so hard building for her, a future in as a CEO of some big firm in a big city. She wanted simple and slow, but right now more than anything she wanted to be home.
And older guy walked up and took the stool next to her, he had a long beard and was rough looking, his hair was at his shoulders and his clothes were worn and tattered. He had a salty way about him, the kind of man who moved to the island and lived the life of a pirate, or at least a pirate from a Jimmy Buffet song. There were a lot of guys here like that and there was something amazing about them. She caught herself staring as he drank his beer.
“Sorry.” She said as he looked at her.
“Not a problem. I get it a lot actually.” He said with a smile that was soft and understanding.
“Drinking alone?” She asked. Not sure why, she simply needed to fill the silence within her head.
“Yep, just wanted some time to think. What about you?”
“Well here’s to peace and quiet.” He said as he raised his beer in a toast.
“Nice call.” She raised her drink then took her shot. As she did a tear rolled down her face. She wiped it away quickly so that he or anyone else wouldn’t notice, but it didn’t work.
“You don’t look like the kind of girl who would come in here and drink alone. Why here? Why now?” He asked, but it wasn’t nosey just inquisitive
“Well…If you really wanna know….”
“An uncle of mine passed away last night from kidney failure. He was an alcoholic.” She pushed her shot glass away as she said this. “Not like I actually knew him but I am not able to go home and be there with my dad while they bury him this week. It just sucks ya know?” She didn’t know why she felt like she could trust this guy but he gave her a sense of peace.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Come; walk with me a little bit.” And he nodded his head towards the door. He paid for both their drinks and they walked out on to the beach.
The sun was in the middle of setting and the colors were beautiful. She watched as the fiery red orb started to sink below the horizon, the colors mingled in the sky dying the clouds the most vibrant oranges, then reds then finally dark purplish blues as the waves crashed on the shore, the smell of salt was strong on the air tonight.
“I want you to think of something.” He said. “No, you won’t be able to hold your dad’s hand during this closing chapter of his life but then again he won’t be there to hold your hand for a lot of things either. Something you need to keep in the back of your mind is this, you are strong, I can see it in your eyes. Sounds silly but I could see you didn’t really want to take that drink back there. But then again I wasn’t going to let you waste it either.” He smiled a little and gave her a wink. “Things are going to work out for the best, I promise. I didn’t know your uncle; don’t know the man he was or the life he lived. What I do know is what it is like to be in the shoes that he was walking in, hell I have been walking in them for a long time. It is hard to let go of something you have known for so long and sometimes that hold is too much to let go of and it will never happen. Just remember that you still have the chance to turn things around in your own life.”
She couldn’t believe what this man was saying to her, he knew EXACTLY what was going through her mind right at that moment. They sat down on the sand and talked a little while longer while the sun sank beyond the horizon. She closed her eyes for a second and let out a long breath. When she opened them he was gone. The wind blew threw her hair and it took her breath away. She had heard of stories like this before, but never believed in the Souls of Sailors, now she did.
She walked back to the bar, got into her jeep and drove home. When she got there she called her dad and talked to him about the things that she and the old man had talked about. She didn’t bring up the fact that he vanished, she kept that to herself. But it made her feel better about not being there for her family. Her dad reassured her that it was alright that she wouldn’t be there, but that he knew she wanted to be.
She hung up the phone with tears streaming down her face. “Things are going to fine,” she said to herself as she got ready for bed, “they are going to be just fine.”
**I wrote this piece about 6 years ago for a creative writing class and originally posted it here Dec 2014. There is a slight story behind it that really has NOTHING to do with the short story but was my jumping off point. It was a story told by my great Aunt Ruth that our family on my Grandfathers side came from rich Pirates (I know, cool and random right?). That we had all this money, back in the like 1700/1800’s, and that someone spilled the beans that the way we had all this money was piracy. They were shunned and that is where our family comes in. Now I don’t know if that story is true and not 100% sure how to check it out BUT what I can tell you is that it only fueled this rather random love I have for the ocean and everything pirate-y. Also the title is the same as a Kenny Chesney Song but hasn’t really anything to do with the song, fact though, the Be As You Are album is in my eyes the most amazing album and was a major inspiration. There is no real reason why I wrote this out other than it is my happy place, on an island, sitting in the sand watching the sun set. The ocean ALWAYS makes things better.
***Photo Credit: CAMorsePhotography