Science Fiction Romance Fiction

The sun sparkled across the ocean with each rippling wave as a whispering roar tumbled over tiny toes burrowing in the sand. Distant giggles from seagulls and our sweet grandchildren swam through the air as a golden glow engulfed us all. I have always loved the fresh scent of a salty breeze and cherished every detail of our annual family vacation to this exact spot, wishing summer would never end.

Sixty-two years had passed in the blink of an eye. Sixty-two wonderful years since our first kiss on this beach, in this specific lifeguard stand. We knew it was the same one because our initials were still carved into the raw wood on the underside of the seat where layers of paint couldn’t erase it. It was like a romantic love scene directly from a movie, but it was real life, and it was my life.

Back then, most people thought we would fall out of love after high school. All of those people were wrong, every single one of them, because after two kids and six grandkids later, we are still so madly in love. We had a spark then that only grew brighter with time because we didn’t dim each other’s light. We celebrated a remembrance of that special kind of love by having our wedding on this beach and making it a point to visit every year since, no matter where life took us. But this year was particularly significant – we were celebrating our sixtieth wedding anniversary.

Back then, I knew we weren’t just a summer fling falling short of surviving the future seasons. Back then, I knew he was the one.

Of course, there’s been some highs and lows in our lives just like everyone else experiences, but this year was the lowest I have ever felt knowing my high school sweetheart had been given a proposed death sentence from his medical doctors of just a few more weeks to live after his condition had rapidly progressed in such a short period of time.

To say devastation flipped my world upside down would be the understatement of the year.

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, wiping memories clean and sometimes without warning. Our entire family had been crushed by the news. With any disease, there are good days and bad days, and luckily today was a good day – the last day of our family vacation all together.

As I sat on the lifeguard stand, holding my husband’s hand, watching the sun kiss his wrinkled lips, all I wanted more than anything was to have him remember who I am and kiss me like he did when we were sixteen. The nostalgia gripped me every year, but this year, more than ever, I longed for reliving that exact moment.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the last day of summer, September 1, 1961, and my best friends surprised me for my sixteenth birthday by inviting my high school crush to the beach with us. I remember feeling extremely embarrassed because we had never spoken a word to each other before. Little did I know then, he had his eye on me ever since we shared geometry class together freshman year. I never thought the hottest guy in school would go for a nerdy girl like me. I was quiet, timid, and frail, and he was outgoing, bold, and strong – just like Noah Calhoun in The Notebook.

If only I could turn back the clock, back to that movie moment.

I’ll never forget the way he looked at me, with a depth not even the Challenger Deep could reach. We got lost in a moment of silence as soon as our eyes locked onto one another, and I remember seeing his soul sparkle in love through his bright blue eyes when he said, “You are a rare beauty.” I swear in that moment he had synchronized his thoughts with mine because those were the exact words I thought when looking at him. Instead of melting from the heat of the sun that day, I could’ve melted by the emotions I felt deep in my soul. Even though he has forgotten after sixty-two years, I still feel the powerful resonance of those words.

As the day was coming to an end, we all watched the sun begin to set, deepening its orange hue across the sky as it slowly sunk below the horizon. My husband was in a daze with the sun’s reflection lighting up his eyes.

“What a special moment to share with you, my love, after sixty-two years.”

The words trembled out of me as I looked at him with a weakening smile. His soul must’ve been somewhere else because he gave no response, not even a blink of the eye or a twitch of his dull smile.

A tear bounced off my cheek, landing on the beach towel covering our legs. It took every bit of my energy to hold off another one from dropping. I wanted to cherish this moment in happiness rather than dwell in sadness, but my heartache intensified as the silence continued.

The salty air got heavy with a chill as the darkness began to take over. Only a sliver of the sun was left, reminding me that summer was ending along with the reminder of it being our last family vacation all together.

Our kids and their families sat on the sand nearby with a towel bundling them all together. The view of them made me think I was watching a movie, as their giggles warmed my soul and erased my heartache. I was grateful to have raised two human beings in a doubtful world with a love that was transcending into future generations.

My four-year-old grandson, the youngest of them all, squealed with excitement as the last of the sun disappeared. I followed his finger pointing out to the horizon and noticed a pod of dolphins surfacing together in synchronized waves. First, there were two, then two more, and on the third resurfacing of the next two, the sun began to come back up over the horizon.

I stared in a daze at the glowing ball of fire as a little boy ran up to the lifeguard stand I was on and screamed, “Happy birthday, Grandma!”

His exclamation startled me, and I gave him an angry look of confusion.

“After sixty-two wonderful years, you are still a rare beauty, my love. What a special moment to share with you.”

I remained quiet as the man next to me kissed me on the lips after saying these words. I didn’t recognize him, but I was too timid and frail to fight him off. He had a scruffy white beard that scratched my face and wrinkly blue eyes that smiled back at me. A sickening feeling dropped in the pit of my stomach as I thought about how old this man was, kissing a teenager. I wanted to scream, but nothing came out.

Then, other kids and adults were coming up to me, wishing me happy birthday and telling me how much they loved me. Even though it was precious to know I was loved; I didn’t know them at all.

I looked around for my best friends: Judy and Sally, but they were nowhere to be found.

What a strange moment to experience on my sixteenth birthday, the beginning of the last day of summer.


Alzheimer’s Disease International has declared September as World Alzheimer’s Month to raise awareness.

September 08, 2023 22:18

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Tom Skye
21:46 Sep 12, 2023

That ending was really powerful. It was touching, but the jarring nature actually made it quite eerie as well. The little boy/happy birthday bit was a real "whoa, what's going on here?" moment. It was really effective. Leading up to that climax, the writing was beautiful to set the scene. Really great job. Enjoyed very much.


Jenni Bradshaw
23:23 Sep 12, 2023

Wonderful, Tom! I greatly appreciate you taking the time to return the favor of reading my work, although I did not expect you to do that. Thank you! I like creative works that are unpredictable and I was hoping to achieve that with this one. I figured the reversing of time (the sun coming back up in reverse) was the perfect climactic point to pull a "Reverse UNO card" out. Ya know what I mean!? ;) From the card game called UNO in case you don't know anything about it. Haha. Again, thank you for taking the time to read my work and for enjo...


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AnneMarie Miles
16:33 Sep 12, 2023

Wow, Jenni, how beautiful. You wove that ending in so seamlessly that it really packed a punch when we realized the tables had turned. We were deceived, making the reveal that much more potent and powerful. I kept thinking...there's gotta be more to this sweet love story.. and it still hit me outta no where. You handled such a heartbreaking topic with such grace. Excellent job. Fingers crossed for you! 🤞


Jenni Bradshaw
17:16 Sep 12, 2023

AnneMarie, thank YOU for this comment/compliment! My strategy was to follow a typical romantic scene and then flip it on it's head when you least expect it! It's still beautiful but also has a hint of unpredictable sadness there. The sun rising in reverse ignited the turning of tables, so the prompt is what inspired me the most! I love Reedsy's creative prompts! I also humble myself when reading and re-reading my work, I tend to feel like it always needs more - "there's always room for improvement" - so if you ever feel like something cou...


AnneMarie Miles
02:43 Sep 13, 2023

Isn't it great when these prompts direct you right into a story you might not have conceived on your own? I used to have such problems with prompts, but I've come to find them useful, as long as you're willing to break them open a little, which it seems you've done here. Of course, always room for improvement. Critiques are challenging for me but it is something I'm working on here! However, you're writing was so clean, I'm coming to you empty-handed on that front. Looking forward to more from you. Happy writing this week!


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