A short story from: Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019.
© N. T. Franklin, 2019
Acadia Seaside, photographic art by Ramona du Houx
Angie had returned from an interview in Nebraska earlier that day. She was looking out the kitchen window, thinking about the job offer she had received. Movement caught her eye and broke her trance. She smiled at the blonde ponytail swish, as Rebecca frolicked on the beach. Gramma Nan couldn’t be far away. She never was. Like mother like daughter like granddaughter, the sea spirit was strong in all three of them. The décor of the cottage mirrored that spirit. Every day brought new shells for an art project, yard decoration, or an addition to the sea-glass collection.
Angie grew up in the cottage. Her childhood memories all surrounded the sea and her mother’s stories of it. Tales of sailors who roamed the ancient seas and dealt with perils and how sea gods and water nymphs danced on the waves. Rebecca had lived in the cottage all of her eight years. Gramma Nan loved telling her sea stories as much as Rebecca loved hearing them.
When Angie became pregnant, Nan moved out and bought a cottage within a short walk. Needed her privacy, Nan said. But Angie knew Nan wanted to give her and Rebecca some space. She knew her mother could never leave her beloved Maine coast. Angie wondered if she could leave the area—for somewhere like Nebraska, even for an opportunity to better provide for her daughter.
Angie had started at the local hospital the day after graduation as a nurse. She thrived with additional responsibilities and quickly worked her way up through the ranks. She was promoted to supervisor in two years, fastest on record. Always driven to provide for her daughter, the fifty-percent increase in salary as a manager was what she wanted. Angie would have to leave the area to get that high-paying, nursing-manager position. These jobs were few and far between, so she had applications out in several states. Nan, but not Rebecca, knew about Nebraska.
The beachcombers came in for supper with their new shell treasures. “You’ll have to tell her sometime,” Nan whispered as she walked past.
“You know what, Momma?”
“The past couple days I was in Nebraska, where they might want to hire me for a really good job,” Angie said.
“But I thought you already had a really good job, helping people.”
“Honey, this is much more money. When I’m done fixing supper, we’ll talk about it.”
“Where’s Nebraska, Gramma?” asked Rebecca. With an open atlas, Nan showed her granddaughter the coastal town they lived in, where Maine was, and then pointed to Nebraska.
Rebecca studied the picture. “But there’s no blue around Nebraska.”
“I know, honey.”
“So there’s no beach?”
“Yes, Rebecca, there’s no beach.”
Rebecca put her hand on the map. “Well, it’s not much farther away from home than my hand. It’s not that far. We don’t have to move.”
Nan closed the book and fought back tears. “Honey, it is a long way away. It will take you three whole days to drive to Nebraska.”
Rebecca broke down crying. “So we’ll be three days of driving away from the sea?”
“And three days of driving away from you?”
Nan looked away before she answered. “We can talk about this later.”
Rebecca, still sobbing, got up and ran across the cottage to the kitchen. “Momma, Gramma showed me where Nebraska is on the map. There’s no blue around it!”
“I know, but it’s a lot more money.”
Rebecca fought back more tears. “But I don’t care about money. I don’t want to be three days of driving away from the sea and from Gramma.”
“Maybe I could get you a pony as a pet.”
“But I don’t want a pony.” By this time, Rebecca was quivering.
Angie sat down at the table. “Rebecca honey, why don’t you go outside and play, while Gramma and I talk.”
Rebecca slid her chair back and whimpered on the way out.
“Please sit down, Mom,” Angie said.
The two women sat in silence for several minutes.
“This is a good opportunity for us, Mom. I’ll be able to take better care of Rebecca.”
“Seems to me you are doing fine in that department.”
“Mom . . . you know what I mean.”
“Not sure that I do. Come to the window.”
They moved to the kitchen window and watched Rebecca throwing small stones into the surf. “Angie, the sea spirit is strong with that one. Just like you. Just like me.”
A quick hug and Angie was alone. She watched her daughter on the beach a little longer. Angie knew she could never accept the offer.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019 was published after a contest for writers to create stories to accompany art photography that depicted Rockland and the coast in its myriad situations, moods and emotions. This story was published in the book along with 27 others.
An overwhelming 88 stories were submitted for the contest. In the end seventeen writers were chosen. Their stories are told with depth, insight, candor, irony, wit and humor. Anyone who has every visited Maine’s coast will be able to relate to them. They’ve put humankind’s instinctive emotional connection with the sea into words.
A gallery exhibit/booksigning was held at Gallery Fukurou in September 2019. The contest was held by Polar Bear and Company, of the Solon Center for Research and Publishing.
The Maine Humanities Council provided a grant for our project that enabled the Solon Center to donate books to libraries across Maine. MHC is a statewide non-profit organization that uses the humanities, “as a tool for positive change in Maine communities.”
Please ask your local bookstore to order it in for you or, if need be, purchase it HERE. All photographic art is available through Gallery Fukurou at info(at)soloncenter.org.