By Weldon Burge
There was snow on the beach, dunes upon dunes, and the ocean, pissed at the world, clawed at the surf with icy fingers.
James gazed out over the bitter Atlantic from his 10th-floor hotel room window. He’d checked into the hotel the previous evening, in the middle of the worst nor’easter to hit the Northeast seaboard in decades. The trip from Atlanta to Atlantic City had been pure hell.
James saw whitecaps on the waves as far out as he could see. The wind howled like a demon outside the window. He wanted to see dolphins. Even seagulls. Any form of life. But the water and the beach were barren.
He wanted summer again.
Hard to believe that, only months before, James had brought the family to this very hotel, this beach, for a week of sun and fun. He remembered Luke and Matt, six and eight, helping him build an enormous sandcastle, then gleefully pounding it back into the sand with their bare feet. James could hear Matt laughing as they both attempted to boogie board on the chaotic waves, often tumbling together in the surf and chasing their boards in the wet sand. He remembered telling both boys to stop throwing potato chips to the hordes of raucous gulls that surrounded their beach blanket.
Most of all, James remembered the distinct aroma of cocoa butter, the sweet suntan lotion on Lori’s bronze skin as she soaked up the sun, stretched out next to him on the blanket. She turned to him, a magnificent smile for him, a gift. He so loved this woman. She was beautiful beyond description, beyond imagination. James felt like the luckiest man on the planet, right at that moment when she smiled for him.
Was that really the last time she smiled?
James wanted summer again.
But seasons change.
There was snow on the sand, dunes upon dunes, and James was due in divorce court at noon.