An hour later found Deborah driving along the Nepean Highway in her purple 1976 Ford Falcon, headed for the family beach house near Rye on the Mornington Peninsula. Since last night’s dream, her mind was absolute chaos and she needed some time alone to get things straightened out.
“Geez, it’s hot today,” she said as she turned up the air conditioner. Despite it only being November, it had been hot all week with temperatures around the 30 degree mark. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the temperature in the car to become bearable again and when she glanced to her left at her dog Dougie sitting quietly next to her in the passenger’s seat, she could see her faithful companion appreciated it too.
The further south Deborah drove, the more relaxed she became. She smiled and complimented herself on her spontaneous decision to take this ‘spring break’. Also, she was glad she had taken the coastal road. It was always a marvellous drive with the ocean view and less traffic than on the Mornington Peninsula Freeway.
It didn’t take long before she reached the outskirts of Rye and steered southwesterly to the more peaceful side of town. When she finally arrived at the house and had driven the car onto the makeshift driveway, she turned off the ignition, put both hands on the wheel and laid her head there for a minute. Then she looked up, took a deep breath and got out of the car.
“C’mon Dougie!” she said, encouraging herself more than anything, as she ushered out the mongrel she had found as a puppy in the street.
Dougie did not need much encouraging. He jumped out gratefully and bounded happily through the front yard. Deborah opened the boot and took out the few things she had taken along. She took in a deep breath of sea air, closed her eyes for a moment and strolled along the verandah to the front door. There she stood lingering with her hand on the doorknob while she looked the weary old door over. It could do with a paint job, she remarked to herself as she wondered how many years ago it was since she had last been there.
She went inside and smelt the dry, warm air of the house that was so familiar to her. It put a smile on her face until she glanced to her left at the dining room table. What was that lying there? She dropped her stuff and walked over to discover it was a conch. She picked it up carefully and examined it by letting her fingers glide gently over the rough outer layer and into the soft, shiny, pink interior.
Then her fingers felt a small wad of paper tucked in neatly inside.
“Hmm,” she whispered, “How did you get here?”
She eased it out and saw it was folded up. Unfolding it, she noticed her heart beating quicker with excitement. Her excitement grew when she read the few words written on paper that looked as if it had been torn out of a diary. In unfamiliar handwriting it said:
You know I’ll always love you X
What was that supposed to mean, she wondered. Sure enough, she understood the words, however, she did not comprehend their meaning. It left her feeling ambivalent. On the one hand she felt loved, on the other she felt a hint of anxiety. Who had written this note and gone to the trouble of putting it here with the chance that she did not know whom it was from? Besides, how did this person know she was going to be here? And how had they gotten inside? The front door had been locked properly. Maybe they had come in through the back, she said to herself, and she rushed to see. No, the back door was locked too. She frowned in bewilderment and then shouted:
“Oh, pull yourself together Debs!”
She was not going to let this get in between her and having a good time. So, she left the conch and the note lying on the table, walked out the front door and called Dougie. Together they crossed the road out front and ran on to the beach where she took off her sneakers and ran through the surf as if she was a little girl again. She forgot all about the lifelike dream last night and about the conch and its mysterious note. In fact, she was entirely absorbed by the smell of sea and the sand she felt underneath her feet and between her toes, that she did not notice the figure watching her from behind the shrubs beside the house.
‘Summer Beach’ by Jenny Rollo on Freeimages.com
‘Conch Shell On Blue’ by Ruth Livingstone on Freeimages.com
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