by Margaret Brinton

Huddled snugly within fleecy shirt or knobby sweater, beachgoers hustled against the moist and briny breeze while hurrying on down the boardwalk by the sea. Inspired by the aura, some kicked off their sneakers, rolled faded jeans to the knees, and dashed along the tide line in the dank and sticky sand. Summer was already half-over, but the sky above California’s northern coast did not frequently clear, even by noon, leaving that familiar gray chill in the air for the locals but a yearning for the sun’s warmth from hopeful tourists and travelers.

Near her large, opened window, the elderly Mona Myers sat comfortably in an overstuffed chair, her wind-chafed face turned towards the cheerless waters. With a tinge of envy, Mona watched those agile ones who passed by her cottage, and she smiled wanly as they, in their blunt curiosity, glanced through the window at her repose.

The spiritually alert, but physically frail woman was just beginning to pleasantly doze when she heard a well-known, male voice. “You have a letter here from Sue,” the mail carrier announced to Mona through her latched, screen door as he deposited a slim envelope into the old, rusted box.

“I’ll let you know if she’s coming for a visit,” Mona called out in response, but she did not yet rise from the ease of her chair. “When she phoned me last week, she mentioned joining me here for Thanksgiving. You and Sue have a lot to catch up on,” she said to the postman with a tone of expectation before he passed on his way.

By two in the afternoon, the sun had still not overpowered the damp and dismal gloom. Mona sighed and stretched out the stiffness of her legs. Carefully, she arose from her chair by the window to gather the mail from its box. After starting her tea kettle to boil, she slit open the envelope from Sue.

Dear Mother:

This summer has been brutally hot down here in Texas, and I dream of a mild
and moist reprieve when I visit you in Pelican Landing in November. You have
often asked if I would resettle in California near you. Although I do miss
you, I have adapted to life in Dallas, and my career is advancing well. Please
consider giving up your cottage to share my home with me.

Loving you, Sue

Long accustomed to the disappointments of motherhood, Mona folded the letter, drank a mug of strong tea, and reached for her shawl from a hook on the wall. With a solid cane to steady her step, she opened her screen door and faced the sea. In hesitant confidence, Mona ambled across a long, wooden plank between two small dunes of sand and arrived at the boardwalk to commence her restorative, daily stroll.

Torn between her only family tie and the personal connection she had with California’s northern coast, Mona Myers weighed her options while making her way in silent reflection down the mist-shrouded shore.

No, she concluded to herself stubbornly. She would not relocate to sun-soaked Dallas to join her daughter Sue. She would prefer to live out her life, waiting. Waiting through each day’s lingering haze until the sun’s rays gave luster to the waters, changing gun-metal gray into cobalt blue, and transparent turquoise in the cove. To the end, she would cling to that mystical enigma of the sea whose companionship gave an unfailing solace to her soul.


Margaret is a Language Arts tutor in suburban San Diego. Her work has appeared in print and online for 15 years. Most recently, she has been published by The Lyric Magazine, Snowy Egret, Downstate Story, Blink-Ink magazine, and Boston Literary Magazine. Her muse is the Southern California seashore. 

A shorter version of Waiting first appeared in The Storyteller Magazine.

Image: Northern California Coast Line by Don McCullough via Flickr.