The Road to the Sea


Image credit: Zoltan Vancso http://zoltan.pictures/en/
     When I was a young  boy my mother drove us in a white Plymouth to a road that ended even with the sea.
The last tenth mile was paved seashells mortared with beach stones, the low shoulders no higher than my ankles- the carapaces of turtles, crabs, lobsters boiled and eaten over a century.
She opened my door, urging me with her hands to walk by myself to the sea. She would stay behind. I sensed that a few visits before she may have lost something, may have left something of herself, something she didn’t want to find.
I planted my feet on the stones and noticed that the horizon of the road matched the horizon of the sea. I looked back and there was my mother crying, looking at me and the distance beyond, yet still urging me on. From the dissolving fog and mist she was trying to make out a reality— perhaps the shadow of a man in a black cloak in the rising sun looking back at her.
Maybe he was smiling back at her. Maybe he was waving back at her. Maybe he was warning her away.
She opened the door but did not follow. Instead, she opened the other door and laid down in the backseat with her hand over her head. She sobbed harder and louder, hitting the seat cover over and over.
A squabble of seagulls parachuted down on the rocky shore and their mewing drowned out my mothers cries.
They coddled speckled gray stones. Circular layers of twigs and sea grass surrounded them and formed nests.
A host of small toys- a nicked up green army man; a tiny wife frozen in a melancholy stare cupping a hand over her eyes, almost in salute, but probably shading her eyes from the glare of the sea; a blur of rainbow gizmos still in their opaque plastic domes- all pinched from children as they proudly displayed their treasures outside the boardwalk arcade after a mighty victory on a grab machine propped from the nests, a wall, a warning against assault.
I glanced back. My mother was now in the front seat. I heard the engine turn and the Plymouth pull away. The sound of the engine mixed with the mewing of the gulls, fading distantly until it was almost never there.
The chicks were creating a din, squawking for food and their parents scrambled to provide for them. The chicks, in their ravenous hunger, deeply nicked the parents’ gonys. Blood spotted their malards and crowns.
In the mayhem happening around me I felt no fear, just calm. My mother was gone. All that was left was for me to walk straight down that road and stop at the sea. And wait, for whatever the tide would bring.
I noticed for the first time the briny smell of decades worth of discarded and hardened shell life on either side of me, the remains of the feast of life.
The sea wind blew gently across my body. In the distant shine a skiff chiseled from the mist. A figure in a hood and draped in seaman’s gray was its helmsman.
The din of the gulls grew silent as the skiff touched the shore and harbored safely in the rocks.
A bony hand motioned me on board.
My father had come to take me home.