He lifted the binoculars, focused the lenses and could just make out her red foul weather jacket, bright against the tiny white triangle of the sail. She headed away from land, away from him, towards the horizon. The ocean was calm and the sunshine cast a path of shimmering diamonds between them, reminding him of the jewelry he knew she left behind.
His fortune was made many times over in the dot com bubble by fortuitously cashing out and missing the crash by just a few months. He’d become an angel investor in an organization that housed and trained homeless youth, where he met her when she was barely 18. They married on her 21st birthday and he bought her everything money could buy, but the truly pleased smiles didn’t dim the haunted look in her eyes. She never talked about her past, except for the fact that her parents had died when she was very young and she bounced through the foster system, never owning more than could fit in a backpack.
She hated the condo in the City with the crowds and noise, so he bought the tiny seaside house in Sausalito on a whim and took great joy in seeing her thrive in the salt air. It had a view of the Bay and the Golden Gate and they took their meals on the deck positioned over the cliffside every chance the weather allowed. They could hear the ocean roaring from their bed and only shut the windows when it stormed. She hiked the steep pathway to the beach for her daily swim, rain or shine. She was a strong swimmer but he didn’t take his eyes off her until she returned to him, dripping wet and invigorated from being in her element.
He was amused when she told him that she wanted to buy a sailboat. He liked to call her his “Mermaid” but would certainly never describe her as a sailor. Sailors were hardy souls and she was fragile. He humored her with the gift of sailing lessons and offered to hire boatwrights to inspect and repair the modest little used vessel she settled on. She accepted the lessons but refused the help, preferring to learn to care for her boat herself. He encouraged her independence and was pleasantly surprised at the seaworthiness she had accomplished when she gave him a tour on the day she christened “Serenity.”
He only half listened as she occasionally mentioned the installation of solar panels, electronics and nautical gadgets. When she casually told him that was thinking about a long-distance solo sail he didn’t take her seriously. Reality set in when he returned from his morning jog to find the note on the kitchen counter, weighted down by a smooth rock from their beach.
He now realized that the pain in her eyes had disappeared over the summer as she made the boat her own. He had missed it by this much … a ripple, a wave, an ocean.
Written for the To Live & Write in Alameda November 2019 “Flash Lit” Challenge #10. We had three days to write a piece of fiction, non-fiction or poetry of 500 words or less to the theme “Missed It By That Much” and post the link in our group.