Refuge

The beach was strewn with tangled cords of seaweed. Gulls pecked at them, their wings outstretched. A pinprick of sun strained to appear in the dull grey sky.

Leonie walked down the path from her cottage onto the sand. She hugged her arms, the loose knit of her jumper inadequate against the wind. A gull screeched as it swooped past.

She’d moved to the cottage with only a small suitcase. He had somehow obtained the phone number. It shrilled at all hours until she yanked the cord from the wall.

Snatches of their conversations intruded, phone or not.

I want to know everything…Nothing is unimportant. I love you.

Why are you pushing me away? Why don’t you trust me?

Don’t leave. Please.

His dark eyes implored, his broad hand covered hers like a symbol of the protection he offered.

Leonie sat down and gazed out. The foaming break of the waves crashed a green, jagged path up the sand. A hint of moisture in the air spoke of incoming rain.

There had been moments of clarity and contentment since she had arrived. Delicious solitude, immersion in her work. But the past hung like a broken necklace behind her.

She would let them chase for a while, circle. On occasion someone was able to sidle up close. This man had been one of those. Close enough to really see her. Even more discomfiting was the way he understood her mind, her thoughts. Mirrored her. So she ran away.

She saved herself.

Leonie pushed herself up and walked back, shivering. A mist of rain touched her face and disguised the tears.

The screen door groaned as she let it fall behind. She stood at the window and plugged in the phone. Her hand shook as she pressed the numbers she knew by heart.

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