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22nd February
posted by amber

Man on the Beach III

I’ve never been a confident person; it’s just not in my nature. I taught art at an elementary school for a few years after college, but I found it very stressful. My parents had wanted me to go into education but I would have preferred to be an artist rather than an art teacher. I’ve always loved art.

Bill rescued me from teaching. He was my miracle, and he’s always supported my true vocation as an artist. Our plan was to live simply – he’d work while I stayed home and developed my career. But I got pregnant and it wasn’t an easy pregnancy and Stella wasn’t an easy baby.

We decided to finish our family quickly, rather than being burdened for years, so I got pregnant again when Stella was not quite two. We hoped for a boy and we got Michael, plus Michelle, our darling twins. They were good as gold.

When they started kindergarten, I was ready to resume my painting, but that’s when Stella’s childhood difficulties became more severe, and I was kept busy caring for her until she went into sheltered housing when she was 20. And even after that, I was volunteering at the shelter, plus looking after my husband and the twins, who were in university but still living at home. Suddenly it seemed as if I’d gone from looking forward to adulthood when my life would start, to looking forward to retirement for the same reason.

But Bill had a wonderful retirement planned for us. We owned a condo in the Bahamas. After Stella was settled, we used to spend six weeks there every winter and I loved it. The Bahamas aren’t like Mexico – they are very safe and clean, the language is English, you can drink the water and eat the food without worrying. I’d really get into painting when I was there, inspired by the turquoise blue sea, the palm trees, the coral sand.

Somehow our situation changed. I don’t understand finances but I guess some investments went bad and Bill had to sell the condo. He was still insistent on his early retirement in a tropical paradise, but when he chose Belize, I had no idea how terrible it would be.

The day we moved into our beachfront villa, the neighbours were robbed in their house at gunpoint. Believe me, I’ve tried to feel comfortable in this place but I just can’t allow myself to get lost in my art. As long as Bill’s in the house, I’m fine but – as he’s always said – he doesn’t intend to have an indolent retirement.

He dives and he snorkels. I don’t do either of those things, but I stay on the boat while he’s doing it. He opened a little real estate office and no local girl worked out for his receptionist, so I’m happy to put in the same few hours a week that he does.

And now he’s started going up and down the beach with a metal detector. He says it gives him the same thrill that playing the stock market once did. He’s found two Spanish gold coins, but otherwise mostly cheap junk.

I’m with him every step of the way. I’m bored but I just can’t stay by myself in the house. It’s hell.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.


  1. Perry

    Kind of a sad story. Where have our dreams gone?

  2. 22/02/2012

    Wow, just read a few of your stories, loved them! Can’t wait to read more! Can’t wait to bring the family out to your place sometime too! Hope you are well and thanks so much for always supporting our work. I will pass your link onto a couple of writers I know (and others) …looking forward to going back and reading both previous and current stories. 🙂

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