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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: Cadence
By Ann Grover
04/26/07


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Rosemary tipped her face to the side as she smiled at Hal.

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

Two straws leaned in the cherry soda on the table, and they bent forward until their foreheads almost touched to take a sip. The activity in the soda shop faded as their gazes held. Hal twined his fingers with Rosemary’s.

“Done?”

“Yes.”

Hal thought it had been a perfect day. The sun had shone with an almost holy golden glow, the sky had been more blue. Had there ever been a day like today? But then, had there ever been a girl like Rosemary?

Mr. Martin was locking up his hardware store.

“Rosemary. Hal.”

“Evening, Mr. Martin.” Even the people were friendlier.

“Take care, kids.”

Rosemary and Hal passed the end of the block - passed the grocer, where Mr. Dean was wheeling the carts of watermelon and potatoes back into the store, and the gas station, where Norm was taking in the cans of motor oil.

The florist was rearranging bundles of cut flowers into smaller lots, the bright blooms an explosion of colour in the fading light.

“May I?” Hal asked. The florist nodded. Hal reached for a bouquet of flowers and paid for them.

“My love.” He presented them to Rosemary with a flourish and a bow.

“Thank you, Hal.” Rosemary hid her face in the fragrant blossoms.

“Anything for my girl.”

Rosemary carried the flowers in the crook of her arm, and laid her head on Hal’s shoulder as they walked. Other couples were strolling in the dusk, holding hands, speaking quietly.

“Look at that elderly couple. Aren’t they lovely? Do you think we’ll be like them one day?” Rosemary looked up into Hal’s eyes.

“I’m sure we will.”

They reached the beach, and the sinking sun was setting the sea aflame in a fiery blaze. They walked down to the shore, where the surf was washing the sand, rhythmically lapping against the land, sibilant, sighing.

Rosemary and Hal slipped off their shoes and waded into the waves, and the froth rose around their ankles and receded. Again and again, the current swirled and eddied. Hal and Rosemary moved together, held each other, then swayed, slow dancing to the cadence of the sea.

The sun vanished into the water.

Finally, they drew apart and silently watched the swells rising and falling.

“Did you see that light shining in the water?” Rosemary whispered.

“It’s phosphorescence.”

“It’s beautiful. Look, there it is again. What is it?”

“It’s dinoflagellates, unicelled organisms. Like plankton. They give off light when they’re disturbed. They cause... Rosemary, does it matter?”

“No, I suppose not. It’s amazing.”

“It’s nothing compared to the light shining in your eyes.”

“Oh, Hal.”

They walked back to the beach, and Hal pulled Rosemary down onto the warm sand. She snuggled into the crook of his arm. Hal thought how blessed he was, how very blessed.

* * *

Hal could hear the rhythmic sound of waves sighing, murmuring, receding. He stretched and opened his eyes to brightness.

No beach.

White light.

His Rosemary.

Her soft hand in his.

Her greyed hair against the pillow.

As if it were sand in his hair, Hal shook the confusion from his mind.

Rosemary’s laboured breathing pained him; he drew every breath with her, leaned close until their foreheads almost touched. Rosemary stirred, moaned, and the measured rhythm was broken.

“My love,” he whispered.

After a long pause, she inhaled again, and Hal matched his breathing to hers, shallow, irregular. The sound of waves cresting on the shore, surf caressing the sand, soft, gentle.

“Hal.”

Hal lifted his head.

It was a long time before Rosemary spoke again, her voice weak and tremulous.

“Cold.”

Hal carefully lowered the rail and eased himself into the hospital bed beside Rosemary’s thin body. He wrapped his arm around the top of the pillow, and she weakly nestled into the crook of his shoulder as he pulled the blanket over them both. The oxygen hissed softly.

“Better?”

Rosemary’s lashes flickered open briefly in response, and Hal’s heart contracted as her brown eyes closed again, the light gone. He stroked her hand, tenderly touched each gnarled finger, held them to his lips.

“How did we get here so soon?”

Rosemary struggled to speak, the words coming in gasps and pauses.

“Does... it... matter? Forever...”

The nurse found them like that, lying together, fingers intertwined, breathing stilled. A bouquet of spring flowers drooped on the window sill.


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This article has been read 901 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan04/26/07
This was beautifully written; a little predictable and sappy perhaps, but nevertheless, it is a beautiful picture of what innocent and holy love can look like when it starts, and how precious it can be even when it ends.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/30/07
Beautiful. Sappy in the loveliest possible way. :-)
Rita Garcia04/30/07
You did a fantastic job showing, Young love matures into a love that lasts a "forever." Your writing is very visual!

Jan Ackerson 04/30/07
Oh, how precious! I loved your transition from then to now, so absolutely seamless and perfect. Some day I'll learn how to write like this; you're truly in a class by yourself. Every word is absolutely right.
Joanne Sher 04/30/07
Love the imagery of this, and such a tender story.
Cassie Memmer04/30/07
Very sweet. Makes me think of myself. Married nearly 38 years, getting older, wondering where the years went, still in love. Great connection to this reader! This a very genteel, precious story.
Sheri Gordon04/30/07
I loved your imagery -- and I learned some new words. I agree it was a bit sappy, but in a very beautiful way. Sappy is good at times -- so sweet and innocent.
Sherrie Jackson04/30/07
I appreciated the description of the town - the grocer, the gas attendant, the florist. It really helped paint such a warm picture. When I read this the first time I thought that Hal's scientific description was jarringly out of place, but on second read it wasn't so bad at all. Kinda cute, and funny. :-) And Hal climbing into the hospital bed was the sweetest thing I've read in a long, long time.

Something I learned long ago was that even cliched stories can be saved by the quality of writing, and that's what happened here. Excellent job.
Jess Godwin04/30/07
Beautiful!! *Grabs the tissues and wipes her eyes*
Cheri Hardaway 05/01/07
This is a beautiful picture of the kind of love God desires for each of us in life, one that grows over time and becomes so much stronger and richer with the living of it than at first meeting; it's the same kind of love that He desires us to have for Him. Beautiful and well-done! Blessings, Cheri
Sara Harricharan 05/02/07
Beautiful! I really liked this. I think you captured the very essence of a long and lasting love. (sorry I don't have any suggestions...this is nice as it is, except for be a little clearer if it was a flashback or a dream, etc) Good job! ^_^
william price05/02/07
This is sooooo smooth! You are the best at what you do. Not a speedbump to get in the way of a totally great story. God bless.
Jacquelyn Horne05/03/07
What love! What romance. Such a wonderful relationship. Bittersweet.
David (The Goliath Assassin)05/22/07
This title caught my eye. It was nothing like a poem I might have wrote with the same title. Of course, we do not have the honor of sharing the same place of employment, now do we? lol! Anyway, this piece was beautifully done. So beautifully done in fact, that I thought I might get sick early on. I'm glad to see however, that you have been able to enfuse a bit of timeless truth into this write, even if it comes at the cost of a tragic end. Peace, Ann!