A House by The Sea | Tender Short Story | Kate Hogan

A House by The Sea featured

Is it time for Nancy to let go of her dreams. Enjoy this tender short story from our archives…

by Kate Hogan

A house by the sea – it was beautiful. Nancy closed her eyes, freeing the kaleidoscope of memories.  How easy to believe in those far off days it was all she wanted. With the unmistakeable sting of held back tears closing her throat she gazed at the view.

She’d wanted him all to herself. Far from the glitz and demands of others, a place with a view that stretched forever in endless eddies of time.

Kieran had wanted it too – maybe not enough. That’s how it had seemed.

She’d accepted it at first. Allowing him the space he craved – needed, all for the rush of love, the breathlessness, the mind soaring nearness of him.

“I love you,” he’d say when circumstance gifted them a hollow of time together, “always and forever.”

He wasn’t a man of words. Not his forte. She believed him – then.

But she’d danced the dance of love till her feet grew weary with waiting. She mentioned the house by the sea.

“I promised,” he said. “I keep my promises.”

He was so often away, lost to her

But time spun by with so little that was tangible, the desire for the house by the sea engulfing, the light trickling from her heart.

Light, like shadow, so much a part of what he did – set him apart. But he was so often away – lost to her. Mixing with people she’d never feel able to understand.

She remembered the bareness of the floorboards beneath her naked feet. Heard the voice once hers demanding he choose. Even now could see the stream of light from the window in the roof illuminating the contours of his face. His eyes wild with the anger she’d provoked.

“I have to go,” he said reaching for her as she backed away. “Come with me.”

“I don’t belong,” she said.

She told him it was over

It had been no more than a night with a friend to ease the betrayal of Kieran’s absence – Adam taking her home –capturing her with his ordinariness – his stability. She’d written to Kieran, telling him it was over.

She’d expected him to come back, to rescue her from the mistake she was making. He hadn’t. He’d sent a card. “I’m sorry,” was all he wrote, his script a knife in her heart.

So she’d married Adam, suffocating in the rigidity of stability. She was glad when he found someone else and filed for divorce.

She followed the press articles. Kieran never married. But he’d reached the exalted place she’d known he would. She imagined his life as full. No space for the past. She’d carried on catching up with the shadows of whom she may once have been.

He’d kept his promise

She’d been away. Knew nothing of the news – free from the tyranny of television and the Internet, still searching for herself. She’d dreamed Kieran was holding her in his arms again. His eyes bright with hope. Awoke, surrounded by the scent of him.

At home, determined to begin again, she’d crumbled when she read the letter. A twist of fate – Kieran was gone.

Now she was here. She took the painting in her hands, the wood of the frame warm, almost as if the energy of him was still somehow there.

“A House By The Sea” he’d called it. The painting he’d never exhibited. Hers forever. Bequeathed with love. She touched her finger to the two figures, felt the curve of his brushstrokes, recognised herself and Kieran in the swirl of colour that defined them. Their arms entwined. Their gaze as one focused on the distance of the horizon. A view of forever where nothing ever ended.

They’d said it could be priceless. It was. He’d kept his promise.

Now she could move on knowing he was waiting for her far beyond the confines she’d created in her longing for a house by the sea…

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Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me kbyrom@dctmedia.co.uk