Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ophelia by Sarah Barlow-Ochshorn

The brisk wind didn’t breach Ophelia’s silver parka as she ambled along the beach with Richard at her side. He ran along, occasionally making a detour to investigate a far off sound, but loyally returned every time. Her grey hair whirled in the wind, as it was out of its usual bun. She let herself free on the beach.

“You know Richard,” Ophelia said, scratching the place behind his furry ears that she always scratched, “I think it’s time for me to talk to Joan. This fight has to end sometime.”

Richard barked his agreement, and then ran off to chase a seagull. Ophelia looked out at the Atlantic, admiring it’s rambling waves, breaking wildly at the shore. She turned to leave. “Richard,” she called out,
“It’s decided. Let’s go to Joan’s.” She started to walk back, Richard falling in line a minute later.

The path to Joan’s house was short, but Ophelia stopped to admire the statuesque oaks along the way. “Richard, when I first moved to Nantucket, the trees were smaller. Not much, but definitely smaller.”

They reached the tiny cottage and Ophelia opened the door. She knew it was always open for her, or at least it used to be. The living room was cozy, and smelled of cinnamon. “Hello dear!” she called out, causing Joan to poke her head out of the kitchen.

“Ophelia, why are you here?” She walked out, wiping her hands brusquely on her overalls, green eyes piercing Ophelia’s hopeful face.

“Darling, I wanted to talk.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.” Joan turned and walked to the back of the house.

“Come on Joan!” Ophelia followed her down the hall. “It’s been two weeks since we talked. I wish I could do something to make this right.”

“I’m afraid you can’t. You’ve kept this a secret from me for too long.” Joan shut her bedroom door in Ophelia’s face.

“I told you, I didn’t know he was married until I found the ring!”

She pushed open the door and found Joan sitting in an armchair, hunched over and old photo album, yellow pages stained with fresh tears. “How could he have done that, and never told me?” She wept.

Ophelia came and put her arm around Joan’s shoulder, glancing at pictures of Joan dancing in a wedding dress… with Harold.