Awash with Memories – Flash Fiction
for The Darkroom – prompt: hermit
Awash with Memories
Adolfo sat on the rocky coast and stared out at the sea. Peace washed over him. He’d chosen this life, secured away from the world. Once, there’d been little else to interest him after she passed away. He smiled as he remembered her.
Isabella. She’d been his childhood sweetheart. He remembered the first time he’d seen her. Her warm brown hair tousled in the wind as she skipped across the playground. She’d come up to him and smiled. Her eyes melted into his soul like dark chocolate in his mouth. She’d worn a yellow sundress with a large sunflower in the center. He would never forget that moment.
Years passed as they remained constant companions all through school. She aged and matured, but kept that innocent smile. War came and Adolfo enlisted. She wrote him letters every week until he came back home to her. He could still hear her laughter that day as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. His battle scars faded away with that kiss.
She’d been in nursing school while he’d been away and earned her credentials soon after his return. While she nursed people to health by day, she posed for him by night. He painted her over and over again. Sometimes sitting, other times lying on the bed, staring up at him with those dark pools. His studio still held her, canvas after canvas littered the walls and the floor. He must have painted her a thousand times. Even now, he could paint her from memory.
He remembered the day he proposed. Right there on that very rocky coast where he now sat. They’d packed a picnic lunch and ate while the breeze from the sea whipped through their hair. She’d worn a pink dress that day. He could still see it. Lace and bows. The pink ribbon in her hair. She’d said yes to his proposal and they’d stretched out on a rock, holding one another as the sun set over the sea. He smiled at the memory.
And then there was a malaria outbreak. She’d worked endlessly in the hospital. So many sick and dying. She’d come home each evening, exhausted. Her innocence wasted away, as did she. She too had succumbed to the illness. He still painted her. Often while she slept. Her body grew thin, her hair brittle, and the warmth in her eyes grew cold. A month before their wedding, she’d passed away.
Adolfo remembered his grief. Like a hermit crab, he’d built a shell around himself, locked away in his studio for months and months at a time. Friends tried to console him, but his grief was too deep, too painful. Eventually, they stopped coming around. Adolfo didn’t notice their absence because he hadn’t even noticed their presence. Such was his despair.
One evening as he sat out on the rocks, he’d looked up at the stars and begged Isabella to return to him. He wept uncontrollably. And then he saw a shimmer out at sea. Something washed up on the shore. He’d climbed down from his rock and walked toward it. A long silver scarf waved upon the rocks. Adolfo bent down and picked it up. He could hardly believe his eyes. It was the scarf Isabella had worn one night as they walked along the coast. The wind had been fierce and whipped it away from her. She’d laughed as she chased it down the shore and into the sea, but it was swept away by the waves. He could still hear her laughter and see the hunch of her shoulders as she gave up the chase and returned to him. It’d been the week before she fell ill. And now there it was. Had she heard his cries? His pleas? Was this a sign from his beloved? He took it as such and it renewed his life.
The voice snapped Adolfo out of his memories. He turned his head to see his young daughter running down the shore toward him. He smiled at her, his little Isabella, her long dark hair tousling in the wind, a yellow sundress swishing about her body.
©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.