"Castles Made of Sand"
The dream came to her as it did every night. She had no control over it. Every time she lay her head down to rest, it came to her. The endless beach was a breathtaking sight to behold in the sunshine. Not a detail had changed from the day they'd been here together. Her fingers ran slowly across the surface of her bikini top. The bright pink material shining in the sunlight. She walked along the water's edge every now and then daring to dip her toes into ocean. The water was warm, sending a small stream of heat up her leg. The sea was calm, small waves broke across the reef, sending spray all the way to the beach. There was a slight breeze in the air lifting her dark hair from her shoulders and chilling the baby smooth skin of her neck. Her bare feet made subtle impressions in the sand as she walked along. She had loved this beach when they came here. She never told him that. A small part of her regrets never telling him that. She loved the way the sun reflected along the water, the way the sky was cloudless and the blue had shone with a new sense of hope for both their hearts.
She continued walking lazily along the water, wrapping her arms around her waist and listening to the waves crash against the surf. This was her place of solace. Her escape from what should have been her storybook life. It was true she loved her husband. She told him once she would love him all her life, and that wasn't a lie. But at the time she had already decided to give her heart to someone else. Someone whose heart was already given to her. She lifts her hand to shield her eyes as something out on the water catches her attention. Without turning around she feels him approach and his arms fasten around her waist.
"Right on cue," she mumbles as she leans back into his hold.
He places a kiss on a tender spot on her neck he had discovered from their night in the parachute hangar. The spot that always made her knees feel weak. His arms squeeze tighter around her as his lips move through her hair and place another kiss atop her head.
"You here," she says.
"I'm always here," he replies. "This is my heaven."
Her eyes close as she inhales his scent. It was the perfect mix of Old Spice and the fresh ocean air.
"Have I ever told you how I really felt?" She asks, always nervously biting her lip like some adolescent schoolgirl. She impatiently waits for him to speak disregarding the fact that he always says the same thing.
"No," he says. "Tell me."
"You know I loved him," she says softly.
"When he came back...I was just so confused but I knew...I knew that I didn't want him, I mean I did, but I wanted you more."
She turns to face him then, dressed so simply in tan swimming shorts and no shirt. His shaggy brown hair blowing in the breeze and chocolate eyes focused on her. Her eyes shine back into his and her gives her that smile. That same gentle, reassuring smile he had given her after their first night together. When he had told her everything was going to be okay. His fingers brush lightly across her cheeks, and she fights back the tears that threaten to fall.
"I'm glad to hear that," he says quietly tracing his fingers along her face.
Once again his touch reminds her that this is her dream and she doesn't have to fear that she is betraying her husband by thinking of such things. Before thinking anything more about the real world she kisses him, feeling some part of herself she had lost so long ago. She'd never admitted that she needed him, even though he had helped her so much, shown her it was okay to love again after they thought Rafe had died. She never once let herself think that. But his lips felt so perfect melding against hers, like he was made specifically for this purpose, and she knew she needed him. Knew she had wanted him.
"Did I ever tell you how beautiful you are?" He asks.
She's been told that numerous times in her life, by Rafe, by others. But none carried the weight it did when the words fell from his lips. No one else meant it in the way he did. He took her hand and continued the walk down the beach.
"I want this to be real," she says. "I want you to see your son Danny. How big he's getting. How much he looks like you. I want...I want this to be real so badly."
"I know," he replied softly.
"When you think about me I can hear it."
She found herself blushing, but he gives her hand a slight squeeze and she looks up to see him smiling.
"You don't have to worry about it," he assures. "It makes me happy that you still think about me like that."
She rests her head on his arm as they walk and lets out a sigh of contentment. Only in dreams could she actually be happy with him again. Only in this place could she get what she still wants, whom she still wants. They pass the car that is still stuck in the sand and the memory of the moment plays itself in front of them. Two pairs of legs dangling over the door, the chatter serious but lighthearted.
"How did we ever get the car out?" She asks.
"A lot of perseverance," He replies.
"Perseverance huh?" She teases.
"And those two sailors that helped me push," he added quietly.
"That's right," she says giggling.
"I don't recall you helping," he throws in.
"Someone had to steer."
They laughed together.
Further down they stop in front of a grand sandcastle. They had spent over and hour making it. And while it didn't exactly represent anything of Arthurian legend. They were proud of the results. She smiles to herself as image of the two of them on their knees, scooping up sand and laughing together, flashes in front of them.
The sound of water splashing from the ocean catches her attention, and she peers out into the blue abyss. Another memory shows itself to her. She and Danny swimming in the warm clear water. Surfacing and circling around, a kiss that felt like heaven.
"Hey," he says. "What are you smiling at?"
She turns to face him, and sees his eyes searching the water.
"It's nothing really," she responds. "Just something I saw."
He grins and nods and continues to lead her along.
They stop when the reach the cliff at the end of the beach. Her eyes lose a little of their life as they stare down at the ocean below. It's going to be over soon. The dream will end and she'll wake up next to her husband and feel guilty for thinking these things and dreaming all of this yet again.
His smile had not lessened at all. His eyes still full of life and focused on her. She throws her arms around his neck making him come face to face with her for one last kiss. She knows as soon as she utters her reply to his words the dream will end and reality will come back. They kiss again and it feels as if all the penance she must endure is worth it. One day she will be with him again. He looks at her, his eyes saying what she already knows but still needs to hear.
"Tell me again," she says quietly.
He speaks without a second's hesitation.
"I love you, Evelyn."
"With my whole heart."
"Forever," he says kissing her forehead. "And ever," kissing her left cheek. "And ever," kissing her right.
His mouth is level with hers again as he waits for her response.
"I love you too, Danny."
Evelyn looks at the ocean once again, latching on to every exquisite detail that will help get her through another day. The dream will be over soon. It always ends after she replies. Danny's arm is wrapped protectively around her shoulder.
"We'll be together again," he says softly as the waves begin to pound louder, slowly beginning to sound like the knocking on a door. "I'll be here waiting for you."
"Evelyn?" Rafe calls, peering his head through the bedroom door. "Were you going to get up anytime soon?"
Light fills her hesitantly opened eyes and she sighs and throws the blanket off of her. She looks to her husband and gives him a faint smile.
"I'll just be a minute," she says.
He nods and closes the door softly behind. She sighs again and opens the drawer on the nightstand next to the bed. Looking at the door once more, her hand roots around inside. Her body shudder as the wave of emotion hits when she feels the smooth glossy surface of the photo. She pulls it out and looks at it longingly.
Her and Danny sitting next to a sandcastle on the beach she can't stop dreaming about. Arms wrapped around each other, eyes staring into one another as if there were no one else in the world but them. Tears well up and she quickly wills them away. Taking a deep breath she puts the picture back in the drawer and gets up from the bed. The day begins the same. Having something she's always wanted, and wishing for what she could have no longer.