Submitted into Contest #119 in response to: Set your story in a silent house by the sea.... view prompt



Each morning she walks miles along the coastline without fail. There’s no such entity as weather permitting. Sometimes I spy her bundled in layers protecting her from nature’s wrath. Today was not different, a sleeting blizzard took our shores but non the less she walked them in diligence and dignity.

I have often wanted to approach her and ask her why she’s so dedicated to this mission, but I have held myself back. Living on this beachfront property for nearly 2 years, eagerly waking each morning to my cup of Joe, luxuriating in my senses being touched by the sounds and smells of coastal living, she has become part of my morning routine. She has never missed a day nor have I.

I have taken to binoculars trying to learn from where she comes but I have not succeeded. The curvature of the beach reaches beyond view so I can only follow her when she’s centered in my lens.

Her dogs run along her side in tandem with loyalty and devoted attachment. Two Siberian huskies in full coat all year round. Their undercoating act as a layer of protection from heat or cold. No sweaters on these rough and tumble young pups. I have never seen her accompanied by anyone other than her dogs.

Pandemic living brought me to this life of solitude. Depressed in the city, hidden away from life in a tiny apartment with no outdoor access.  Elevator use limited to 2 people per lift meant waiting incessantly long periods of time before one can enter. Getting to the outdoors would be to open a window. With that I decided to rent an ocean front home in Connecticut, on the Atlantic Ocean with all the fresh air and spatial separation needed to avoid becoming another number added to the covid monstrosity.

Just about two years, my mind now limited to pure isolation, causing a slow creeping depression. My mornings are the highlight of my day. She inspires my imagination and I decide to use my depression and my loneliness to write. I want to approach her, just to learn about her, but I fear her. She has grown to be so many possibilities in my mind that I don’t want to lose my imagery. I don’t want her to kill my inspiration, my creativity. I don’t want to be disappointed.

I decide she is a nanny that cares for 2 children. Her bosses are always away, so she is in charge constantly and needs this morning walk to clear her head and make room in her patience for 2 young children. She has a significant college degree from Yale, perhaps Law or Journalism or Drama, but because her life was devastated by the impropriety of a cheating husband, she has retreated to this life that she secretly has always wanted. Societal pressures forbade her from being a housewife and mother, so she acquiesced to the imparting of her parents and became something more. She seems happy, content. Maybe I should talk to her?

I set up a meeting in my mind. I will let my golden retriever, Zilo, out and allow him to run to the waters edge just before 7am when I know she will be passing by. Then I will run out after him, calling to him frantically, but he will ignore me because he will be intrenched in the presence of the other dogs. Running to retrieve him, we are now facing one another and my opportunity to learn about her, begins.

This sounds solid, but am I ready to meet her? I am so vividly consumed with her and her mission, that I can’t focus on anything else. I guess this could be considered an obsession. But why? Why am I obsessed with this? Do I want to have an obsession? It’s not healthy. I need to stop this. I need to focus on my work. I can’t afford to lose another job. Especially with this rental being an extraordinary amount monthly.

Okay, redirecting. I will not look for her tomorrow morning. I will break this habit. I will sleep late.

Midnight. One am. Two am. Four am. Five am. Six am. Forcing my self to stay in bed. Trying desperately to sleep. Ear buds in, Moody Blues lullabying me to close my eyes. Nights in white Satin, soothing my edgy nerves.

Zilo nudges me. He wants to go out. I push him away and tell him 5 more minutes. He lays back down and then nudges me again. I look at my phone to see that it’s 11am. Shit! I’m not sure I didn’t want to peek at 7am. Now I will never know. I wonder if she walked by this morning. Maybe she had to get the kids to school early today. Maybe the parents came home, and she is no longer needed. Maybe I missed my opportunity to learn about her. Maybe her crummy husband came back to her. Gasping, maybe Frick or Frack, one of her husky’s got hit by a car?

I’m losing patience with myself. I need to move this along. Either get her out of my system by simply pushing her away or go and meet her. I must stop playing this game with myself.

Okay. I’m going to do this. I have decided to go with the plan of Zilo running to the beach and frolicking with her dogs. Tomorrow morning at 7am I will know exactly who she is and why she’s so dedicated to this morning constitutional.

Up at 6 am, I break from my coffee first routine. Instead I shower, brush my teeth, blow dry my hair and even put on a bit of eyeliner. I select the pants that make me look the thinnest, throw a scarf around my neck twice, pop on my baseball cap leaving my bangs poking out softly to the sides, grab my coolest sneakers and open the door precisely at 6:59:58 am. Zilo bounces happily down the steps as expected and I follow casually, looking all cute and perky.

My peripheral vision spies to the right, to the left, but nothing.

Where are you, Carly Simon? (The name I decided to give as her parents were children of the 60’s and loved her music, that’s why their daughter needed a career. Woman’s lib and all)

 She’s not here. She’s not coming or going. Somehow, I missed her.

Defeated, I called to Zilo and he came running back proudly with a disgusting old tennis ball in his mouth offering me a gift, as we both entered through the squeaky screen door, heads hanging low, back into our beach home.

I walked over to the mirror, removed my cap and scarf and I saw Carly Simon looking back at me.

November 09, 2021 16:05

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Roger Scypion
03:08 Feb 08, 2023

Great story, great ending. Kept me captivated and wanting more.


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Noelle C. Lee
18:34 Nov 17, 2021

Thank you for reading my story. This time in all our lives has provided us the time to truly be introspective- Prison is exactly the word I would use to describe her personal journey. I am so appreciative for your feedback!!


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15:53 Nov 17, 2021

Very interesting writing. I think so many people feel the weight of isolation during the pandemic living in the city, “alone with everyone”, so to say, that the need to escape is probably fairly common (I feel it too). Yet somehow your protag’s escape becomes almost a bit of a prison. Thank you for sharing!


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Jon Casper
18:58 Nov 09, 2021

Unexpected and thought-provoking ending! I enjoyed the imaginative theories as to the walker's identity, and how those theories might be framed in reality when they see the reflection. Clever, and well-written.


Noelle C. Lee
01:16 Nov 10, 2021

Yay! So glad you got it! I’m experimenting trying to find my stride…Thank you!!!


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