‘When all the world is lost – look up.’ I heard a man’s voice beside me.
‘Nuthin’ to look up to.’ I muttered, kicking at the tide’s wake as I sat on the beach.
It was Christmas day, and there were none of the accoutrements of the season. The only place decorated was the church, and I was forbidden to enter in. My mind still screamed with the accusations leveled against me. Especially the label that I was a Judas. No, there wasn’t anything to look up to at the moment, least of all God.
‘Mankind is stupid. Never let mankind keep you away from God.’ He spoke softly as he buried his feet in the sand beside me. He was Scottish. I’d know the rich tones of the thick brogue anywhere.
I looked over at him. Red hair; long, fuzzy red beard; a huge smile that carried all the way to his green eyes. Heaven help me, but I giggled. If his beard had been white, I might have mistaken him for Santa Claus. It was Christmas Day, after all.
‘I’m Stephen MacDonald, at your service, Mi’lady.’ He winked, wiggling his toes.
Oh, heaven bestill my soul. I felt my pulse race momentarily. Okay, so I wasn’t completely dead inside. But it was wrong, all wrong. I was a widow, and a mom-to-be. Where did I even dare to think such thoughts?
‘Well, it’s nice to meet you, Ian. I hope you enjoy your visit to the Island.’ I nodded, hoping I didn’t sound too interested.
‘If you don’t mind, would you like to get a drink at the bar?’ He shrugged his head towards the thatch-roofed haven.
I looked past his shoulder and saw Miss Katleen’s husband smiling, nodding, and gesturing to go ahead. ‘I don’t drink alcohol, but I could go for a glass of guava juice.’ I wiggled my toes, coming up with a sand dollar. ‘Here’s a dollar.’ I chuckled.
He chuckled too as he took the sand dollar inspected it, then returned it to the sea. ‘It needs water to live.’
Ah, so he cares about the environment, too. I smiled. He reached out a hand to pull me up to my feet, and with that simple gesture, I felt almost alive again. I had juice with Stephen that day, and for several more days. We quickly forged the beginnings of a friendship that would encompass a lifetime.
Oh, that I could go back to that moment on the beach.