Without an anchor to keep her in place, was she in danger of losing her way?
Eve walked half way along the barnacle encrusted jetty, being careful not to slip on its slimy planking. She felt burdened and downhearted as she turned round to face the land.
Her home, Driftwood Cottage, appeared to look back at her with its two wide windows either side of the crooked front porch. The little building couldn’t boast a straight line anywhere; walls bowed and met each other at odd angles. It had appealed to her innate sense of disorder and randomness.
She carried a branch of driftwood. She’d found it, there, on the sloping strip of shingle between the cottage and the sea, on the day she and Bill had moved in, a little over five years ago.
“Look what I’ve found,” she’d said to him. “Driftwood. That’s us! Always moving, too restless to settle anywhere.”
Bill had agreed. The branch was broken, pocked with holes and its grain exposed and polished from its time in the tumbling waves.
He stood it in a warped corner of the porch where it smelled of the sea.
Five years ago… Eve had never dreamed she’d have stayed in one place for so long.
But Bill’s health had deteriorated. Retirement to a seaside cottage might be most people’s ambition but both Bill and Eve felt it was forced on them when they’d rather be traveling the world.
They’d managed a few holidays, around Bill’s treatment and endless hospital check-ups. Some trips were to exotic places, others almost on their doorstep, but always to somewhere new.
These trips away became less frequent as Bill’s dependency on the local hospital increased.
Moving on from the cottage became less of an option, though they kept the driftwood branch by the front door like a talisman, a reminder of their almost nomadic lives and a hope for the future.
They’d decorated it each Christmas, magnificently abstract in Eve’s home-made jewellery: pendants and rings that she sold at craft fairs.
In the warmer months the branch stood stark like an antler, but more recently Eve had come to think of it as an anchor, solid and heavy at their door when once it had floated free on the ocean.
Bill had known how Eve felt. Of course he had.
“I want you to spread my ashes as far across the country as you can manage,” he’d often told her, with that mischievous grin crinkling across his face. “I know I’m holding you back, when we’d both rather be exploring.”
Well, now Eve was going to carry out Bill’s wishes.
She turned with the driftwood branch, watching her step.
The waves beat rhythmically beneath the jetty’s planking as she walked out over the sea. At the far end she turned again.
Driftwood Cottage was the most picturesque home she and Bill had shared. If the ebb and flow of her life had had to be marooned anywhere for a while, she was glad that it had been here.
She took a deep breath of sea air. It would be so easy to just stay here and settle into a new routine by herself.
But where would be the adventure in that?
Already she felt rutted into a routine; she’d noticed a repetition creeping into her jewellery design: more shells and sea and pebbles. She needed a change.
There were so many places she hadn’t seen, so many people to meet. Moving on was what Bill had wanted for her.
Eve had timed the tide, knew that it was on the turn. She couldn’t hold back the smile that broke through her thoughtful melancholy as she swung, then threw, the branch out onto the waves as far as she could.
She watched it bob for a while caught in the receding current.
She turned and strode back towards the cottage, now just another house she had lived in. She was already making plans and she had her memories to take forward with her.
Behind her, the anchor drifted away.