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On a July Evening in Beaufort
by Dana Sieben



The wooden swing creaked as Maggie slowly sat down and looked out over the small mudflats surrounding the Beaufort marina. This was her special place; a place of peace and love and serenity; of memories. In the distance, shrimp boats seemed to float magically across the grassy marshes, taking their loads to dock. Shades of pink, orange and lavender filled the skies and the descending sun threw jewel-like sparkles on the water. He would be here soon.

Maggie could hear the sounds of the playground a few yards away: the children screaming in delight and the mothers pleading with them to get off the swings and leave for dinner. Behind her, the horses pulling the tourist carriages snorted as their owners closed up for the day. She closed her eyes to the beauty, smelt the salty air, and presently felt a familiar presence settle onto the swing next to her.

"Hello, Maggie, love."

She smiled brightly, not opening her eyes. He was here. She could smell his aftershave, the smell of his skin. Feel his warmth against her wrinkled skin.

"Hello, Robert."

"Another Friday, is it?" he stated. "We used to sit out here every Friday night and watch the shrimp boats go by. Every Friday night that your dad let you out of the house, that is. And afterward, we would come just for the memories. Do you remember how it was then?"

She nodded, smiling in remembrance. It had been a glorious romance: he in his stark white naval uniform, she in her poodle skirt and tight sweaters. Dancing and living and loving. He had made a dashing figure; his jet-black hair combed smoothly back with pomade. He had swept her off her feet, she who had never been anywhere else in her life but this small town.

He went on. "I always loved it here in the South; itís one of the most beautiful places in the world." He paused. "And you were my girl."

"I still am," she cried hopelessly, turning her face into his arm, "Oh, Robbie, we were going to buy a house on one of the islands after you were discharged and have a boy and a girl who would look just like us. It was such a beautiful future, Robert," she sighed. "I only wish it had come true."

She finally felt him put his arm around her shoulders like he used to and she melted into his embrace and savored it for the fleeting, loving thing that it was. He would go soon. He always did.

"Why did you have to leave me, Rob?" she asked with eyes still closed. "Oh, why couldnít you have just stayed?"

"It wasnít my choice, honey. You have to understand that."

She shook her head. "I donít understand that and I never will. They didn't need you. I did."

"I do love you, my Maggie. I always have."

"I know." Tears emerged from under her closed eyelids and fell down her old, wrinkled cheeks as she felt him leaving.

"Goodbye, my love," she whispered softly to him, the love of her youth, her husband.

"Goodbye, Maggie. Iíll see you soon, I promise."

Maggie finally opened her eyes and let him go yet again, stroking the folded American flag given to her by men in uniform as she had every Friday night for over forty years, watching the same Southern sunsets and the same things come to an end.

_________________________________________


Dana Sieben is currently residing in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and two children. She writes about her family, her Southern heritage, and her new life up north with a bit of humor and nostalgia.

In addition to being a member of various writing forums, Dana has also been published in USA Deep South, Long Story Short and Muscadine Lines Ė A Southern Journal. She is a member of SouthernHumorists.com and a contributing writer to Dew on the Kudzu, a Southern web journal, and Weight-LossArticles.com.

Dana can be reached at Bama Alum or at her blog, southerngalgoesnorth.blogspot.com. You may also sign up for her weekly newsletter, appropriately called "Southern Gal Goes North," by clicking here.


Read more of Dana's writing at USADS:
Rock Springs
Bobo
Christmas Eve
Night Swim
Thigh-Master, Move Over



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