Waves by Casey Shelley

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Waves rock the boat back and forth: they’re used to it. Tired eyes are a reminder that this is far from the first wedding they’ve attended.
            “How much longer, Dave?” Kate places her bare hand on top of his “I can’t take much more.”
            “Just a little more, doll,” he knows that her porcelain face means it.
            Kate glances around the populated cabin. “I need to get out of here.”
            “Follow me,” Dave instructs.
            They ascend the steps to the outer deck of the vessel, quickly realizing that it’s owned by tourists. A young couple hanging over the rails exclaim “we saw one!” Their dog child sits leashed, watching its parents’ excitement over a lucky right whale sighting.
            “I bet we see one, too,” Dave smiles.
            They scour the open water while Dave’s hand finds its way back around her waist.
            “There!” Kate erupts “I see it moving over there, by the seaweed!”
            “I see it, doll! Good eye.”
            “Seagulls,” a neighboring observer hands Kate a worn pair of binoculars. “They like to gather ‘round where the whales hang out. Creates quite an illusion for the untrained eye.”
            “I shouldn’t have expected the real thing,” Kate mutters, returning the binoculars and Dave’s hand.
            Dave glares at the binocular-woman on the way downstairs. “We’re almost there. Let’s get in the car, get this over with.”
            “What’s wrong now, Kate?”
            They drive onto the island, absorbing the view of moored boats, sporadic houses, and a lighthouse on the ledge of a distant cliff.
            “Can’t get out of here soon enough,” Dave revs the engine of Kate’s Jeep.
            Kate can’t take her eyes off the bright white lighthouse, standing tall and alone amid the gusts of wind. “It’s stunning, Dave. Don’t you think?”
            “I just want to find this motel and a drink.”
            Arriving at the Surfside Motel, Kate is reminded that it’s her turn to pay.
            “Hello, how can I help you today?” an attractive clerk grins from behind a desk.
            Kate passes her credit card. “Checking in for Kate Adena.”
            “Perfect. Are you here for the wedding?”
            “Yes, we’re guests” Dave intervenes.
            “Well, I do hope you enjoy our little slice of paradise.”
            “Thanks, doll” Dave grins “I will.”
            Kate doesn’t sleep throughout the night. Instead, she listens to Dave’s foghorn-snoring, wondering if it will ever stop. Eventually, sunlight fights its way through tightly drawn curtains.
            “Are you ready?” Dave rushes.
            “As ready as I can be,” Kate mumbles as she squeezes herself into a dress that Dave ordered online.
            “Hurry!” he yells as the engine of her Jeep warms up.
            The island ceremony is like every other. Kate excuses herself at the first opportunity. Outside of the white tent, the world is shaded by dusk. The music fades as waves beat on a too-forgiving shore.
            “Kate, what are you doing? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” Dave bellows.
            “Try it, Dave,” Kate points at her bare feet in the sand “it feels so good.”
            “Are you kidding me? Put your shoes on.”
            He tosses her sandals as moonlight reveals the damage already done.
“My God, Kate—your foot!” Dave is horrified as blood drips from her sole “you must have stepped on glass!”
            “It doesn’t hurt.”
            On Sunday morning, Kate isn’t ready to leave.
            “You promised me we’d see the lighthouse,” she reminds Dave.
            “Let’s get it over with.”
            Dave drives her Jeep to the edge of the island. He looks around at the desolate scene, rubbing his forehead. “I have a headache. Can you just go?”
            “You promised.”
            Kate jumps out of the passenger seat. Within moments, she’s waiting for Dave across the rope bridge.
            He struggles to catch his breath. “This better be worth it.”
            Kate leads them to the top—as the only visitors, they own the view. Dave stops in front of a sign displayed near the lighthouse:

“Jesus,” Dave scoffs.
            Kate smiles. “Come over here, look at this.”
            “Is it everything you thought it would be, doll?” Dave slides his hand around her waist as they take in the cliff-side view. The foghorn blares.
            “It’s better,” Kate grins, pushing him away one last time.
            Kate can’t believe her luck as a right-whale breaks water on the horizon. It’s a sin that Dave can’t see it, too.

Casey Shelley is a teacher and author from New Brunswick, Canada. Her poetry and short fiction has been published in various literary collections, both online and in print.



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