MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Shades of Rock by Jill Florio


Fiction

On the Pier

Melissa Knoblett-Aman

Megan stood on her balcony gazing out into the ocean as the waves crashed briskly ashore. She smiled. She was home. A young successful writer, Megan Lawrence had realized her dream. She had wanted to live on the beach ever since she was five when her parents first introduced her and her sister to the soft sand and raging waves during a family beach vacation. Now she owned her first home; her first beachfront property.

The breeze blew gently through her shoulder length hair as the sunset began its daily show. This evening the swirls of pink and blue danced across the horizon in a symphony only Mother Nature could produce.

“So luminescent,” Megan whispered in awe.

Very successful in her young career, the twenty-seven year old already had three romance novels published and was beginning to work on her fourth. Ironically, Megan’s own love life was quite the contrary. Even though she had dated several men, Mr. Right still eluded her. She had, however, encountered Mr. Moocher, Dr. Clingy, Mr. Incapable of Commitment, Mr. Let’s Party and Mr. Deadbeat all within a period of two years.

“Oh!” Megan exclaimed, startled when she felt the soft fur rub against her leg. “Chaucer, you’re not supposed to be out here.” She didn’t realize she left the sliding glass door cracked just enough for Chaucer to squeeze through. “Sweetie, I don’t want you to fall through the poles,” Megan told her beautiful three-year-old long-haired orange tabby.

“Meow,” Chaucer answered as he peered up at her. Almost as if he was saying, ‘I won’t fall. I doubt I’ll fit between the poles, Mommy.’

“Come on, let’s go back inside.” Megan picked up the fifteen pound feline and carried him into the house.

“Boxes,” she sighed as she put Chaucer on the floor. “So many boxes to unpack. You wanna take care of that?”

“Meeooow,” said Chaucer. He burst into purr and sauntered into the kitchen.

“Oh, you want a treat, do you?” Megan followed her cat into the kitchen. Chaucer rubbed against her and continued purring. His purr mimicked that of an old Harley. Chaucer uttered his famous cross between a meow and a purr as he looked at Megan and then at the counter where he was sure his treats were awaiting him. “Okay, okay.” Megan picked up a jar and took about five ocean fish flavored soft treats out.

“Meow, meeeeooow!” Chaucer stretched up and ‘scratched’ on Megan’s jeans.

“Here, sweetie. Your favorite,” she placed them on the floor in front of her handsome orange tabby. Within seconds the treats were gone. Megan let out a light chuckle.

***

A week later Megan had most things unpacked and her house was really starting to feel like home. She sat at her computer, in her home office, staring at a blank Word document. Moments earlier she deleted the beginning of what was to be her fourth novel. This wasn’t her first attempt at her new book. In fact she had started the story about ten times, and ten times she selected all and pushed delete. Sighing deeply, she stared out the big picture window. The waves rushing ashore and the glistening white sand beckoned her. Oh, how she wanted to abandon her blank Word document and go for a walk along the beach.

“No, I can’t. I won’t let you get me! You evil writer’s block,” she grumbled aloud. Yet the blank document stared piercingly at her. “Once upon a time…” she shook her head. “No, been done way too many times.”

Megan’s focus shifted, and she glanced around the room. Chaucer lay fast asleep on top of her filing cabinet. Presently that was his favorite sleeping spot.

“Okay. This isn’t working.” Megan stood up, giving in to the evil writer’s block. “A break. I just need a break.”

As she walked out of her office, Megan noticed the clock on the wall in her living room. It was 2 p.m. She smiled. “The mail should be here.”

Her latest royalty check was long overdue and she hoped it would arrive in today’s mail. She made her way to the front door and walked outside along her driveway to the edge of the street, where the old rusty black mailbox stood, slightly crooked, with purple wildflowers growing all around its base.

“This thing has to go,” she whispered. Opening the box, she found a small stack of mail. “Bill, bill, junk, junk… what’s this?”

No, it wasn’t her royalty check. Megan looked closely at the rose colored envelope. It was simply addressed to My Dearest. There was no address, no return address and no stamp. Hand delivered, she thought. It had to have been hand delivered. Intrigued, Megan quickly walked back toward the house, threw the junk mail in her outside garbage can and hurried inside. The bills got tossed onto the kitchen counter, and she hastily opened the mysterious envelope. Handwritten on a small piece of matching rose colored paper was the following:

My Dearest,
It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. When you
disappeared it nearly broke my heart. I noticed
you have a new car. Please meet me at the pier
on Friday at sunset. And wear a single white
rose in your hair. I’ve never forgotten how
beautiful you were that first night I saw you.
Yours,
L

Megan smiled at the romantic sentiment, but dismissed it as she knew it must have been meant for the previous owner - or maybe a former renter of this property. She couldn’t help but wonder what the story behind the note entailed. Was it a forbidden love affair? A one night stand? Star-crossed lovers? She shrugged and tossed the letter onto the kitchen counter amid the bills.

***

“Ring! Ring!”

With a start Megan groggily sat up. After rubbing her eyes, she glanced at the alarm clock.

“Ring! Ring!”

“5 a.m., who the heck is calling?” she muttered before picking up the phone. She had caller ID but rarely looked to see who was actually calling her. “Hello?”

“Meggie, I need your help!”

“Renee? Are you okay? Is something wrong?” Megan asked worriedly. There was a sense of urgency in her younger sister’s voice.

“I need you to help me pick out my wedding dress!” exclaimed Renee.

“What?”

“My dress. You know I don’t have much time left!”

“It’s 5 a.m.,” Megan rolled her eyes and leaned back onto her pillow. “And you have seven months.”

“Yes, but that’s not really that long. Lane’s Bridal is having a sale this morning. Early bird special. It starts at 7. Can you meet me there?”

“It’ll take me two hours to drive there.” That was the one thing Megan missed since moving to the coast. She was further away from her family.

“I know. That’s why I called now.”

“I’m not up yet.”

“Well… now that you’re awake…”

Megan sighed. She loved her little sister, but Renee had always been rather melodramatic and rarely very practical. “Listen, sis, I’m sorry but I can’t meet you today. I really have to get some work done on my book. I’m having trouble, and I need to make some progress.”

“Your book? Your book! I’m getting married and all you can think about is your book!” Renee yelled into the receiver.

“I’m sorry, but it’s not like I’m writing it just for the heck of it. I have a contract… and a deadline.” And a blank document, Megan thought silently. “I promise we’ll get together over the weekend and go shopping, okay?”

“The sale is only going on today. It’s a mid-week special,” Renee’s tone of voice lowered in disappointment.

“There’ll be other sales. And besides, I thought you didn’t even like Lane’s,” Megan commented as she remembered going to Lane’s with Renee right after her sister was engaged. Renee complained about their lack of variety, the quality and elegance of the dresses, and the rude staff. Well Megan didn’t think they were rude, but Renee wasn’t happy at all with their customer service skills.

“Umm… well, but they’re having a sale!”

“Renee, we’re taking about your wedding here. Sale or not, if you don’t like the store why shop for your dress there?”

“Meggie, I’m on a budget!”

“Mom and Dad are paying. I think they can afford for you to get a dress from somewhere that you like.”

“Maybe, but I saw an ad for the sale and just thought…” Renee let her voice trail off.

Megan sensed the distance in her sister’s voice and it dawned on her that maybe this call wasn’t about dress shopping after all. Yes, Renee was exceedingly dramatic but this was over the top even for her. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Complete silence traveled through the phone line.

“Renee?”

“Jim and I had a fight.”

“You did? About what?”

“The wedding. He wants to elope. He said I’m taking everything too seriously and letting all the wedding details stress me out too much. He said he’s had enough, and he thinks if we elope it will solve everything.” Renee cleared her throat. “I’ve always dreamt of my wedding day, Meggie. A big church wedding with all my friends and family there. And you standing beside me as my maid of honor. I don’t want to elope. I want my dream wedding.” Renee tried to fight back the tears.

Megan wished she could reach out and hug her sister. “Did you tell Jim that?”

“He knows. He doesn’t care.”

“Of course he does. He loves you. Maybe you need to sit down with him and talk. Really talk.”

She remembered the day Jim proposed to Renee. He was so nervous and when he first asked Megan if he could ‘practice’ with her, she thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Jim wanted everything to be perfect when he asked Renee to marry him. She knew Jim adored her sister. That she knew for a fact.

“Maybe. I guess I did overreact when he brought up eloping.”

“Do you want me to come over today? I can work on my book later.”

“No, that’s okay. I should call Jim. You’re right, we need to talk.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I’m sure. Thanks, Meggie! I love you. See you this weekend!” Renee sounded calmer and Megan smiled.

“I love you… too,” Megan answered but Renee had already hung up.

Megan chuckled at the irony that was her life. Here she was, the queen of failed relationships, giving her engaged sister advice and making a living writing romance novels. After returning the phone receiver to its cradle, she looked around for Chaucer. Sure enough, he was curled up in a ball sleeping at the foot of her bed.

“You’ve got the right idea, my wise kitty,” she whispered before leaning back onto her pillow and closing her eyes. Try as she may Megan could not get back to sleep. She tossed. She turned. She tried pulling the covers over her head. Frustrated, she kicked the covers off completely. Chaucer started snoring. It was a light, cute little kitty snore that emulated a muffled whistle.

“Okay, that’s it. I guess I’ll get up,” she muttered in pure aggravation. Chaucer rolled over and stretched. He looked at her through slightly opened eyes before drifting back to sleep. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to get up yet.” She leaned over and soothingly rubbed his head.

Standing up, she decided to do some laundry. Her hamper was overflowing, so she gathered a pile of dirty clothes and headed out to the garage where the washer and dryer were located. After starting the load, she noticed an old dinged up file cabinet tucked away in the corner, nearly hidden behind the washer.

“Hmm, I never noticed this before.”

Megan opened the top drawer of the cabinet only to find a bunch of dead bugs. “Ewe!” she wrinkled her nose and quickly shut the drawer. Her attention shifted to the bottom drawer. “No, probably more dead bugs.”

She turned away, but her curiosity got the better of her. Upon opening the bottom drawer, Megan found more dead bugs and one manila folder covered in dust. Carefully she took the folder out and blew the dust off. She opened it to reveal several letters, all on the same stationery as the mysterious note she received in the mail. The rose colored stationery. They were marked 1, 2, 3… all in order. She was more than a little intrigued. She carried the folder inside and sat down on her futon sofa before unfolding the first letter.

My Dearest,
Last night I saw you on the pier with the
white rose in your hair. You were radiant
and so beautiful. I wanted to approach you,
but I couldn’t. Please meet me on the pier
Friday night at sunset.
L

Megan carefully placed the first note back in the folder and took out the second one.

My Dearest Rose,
Meeting you last night was everything I
dreamt it would be. You were so beautiful with
the wind gently blowing through your hair.
Thank you for the wonderful walk along
the beach and taking a chance. I look forward
to our date Friday. See you on the pier at sunset.
Yours,
Luke

Eagerly Megan returned the second note to the folder, behind the first, and then pulled the third one out.

My Dearest,
I’m not sure why you didn’t show up Friday evening.
I hope you’re okay. I’m sorry I didn’t ask you for your
phone number. Trying to get it has been impossible since
I don’t know your last name. My Dearest Rose, I know
we’ve only just met, but I’m falling in love with you. Please
meet me on the pier at sunset. Tonight. Tomorrow night.
Whenever you can. I will be waiting for you each and
every night… until we meet again.
Yours,
L

“Oh, how romantic!” Megan blurted out dreamily.

“Meow!” Chaucer announced himself before hopping up on the sofa beside her.

“Hey, sweetie,” she stroked her kitty’s head and neck before folding the third letter back up and gently sliding it behind the second one in the folder. “Chaucie, I think I have an idea for my book. Finally! This novel might come to fruition after all!”

She rubbed his head and back as she pondered over her new inspiration. Chaucer purred his loud Harley purr and curled up right against Megan’s leg and began kneading on her. “Awe! Are you making me some biscuits?”

“Mrrroowww,” he uttered his famous cross between a meow and a purr.

Megan gave Chaucer a quick massage before directing her attention back to the manila folder. She pulled out the next note. This one, in different handwriting, was scratched out with blue ink. The original black ink used to pen the letter shown through just enough for Megan to decipher the words.

Dear Luke,
I’m sorry. I can’t meet you anymore.
I must leave town. The time we spent
was priceless to me, and I will cherish it
always. You will forever live in my heart.
Love,
Rose

“Hmm, why do you think she had to leave?” Megan asked, scrunching up her brow as she looked down at Chaucer. He purred and rolled over on his back, still remaining right up against her.

Lost in thought, Megan put the last note behind the third one. In the folder tucked away, behind the letters, was an envelope from the same rose stationery. Inside was a photograph. She pulled it out and gasped in amazement. The snapshot was of a petite woman with shoulder length hair. She appeared to be in her early to mid twenties. What was so astonishing to Megan was the fact that this woman could pass for her twin.

“Unbelievable!” she uttered incredulously.

As she flipped the picture over she noticed the writing on the back: Rose – on the pier, 2003.

“Five years. Wow!”

Megan turned the photograph back over and stared down at the woman in the picture. The longer she stared at the woman, the harder it was for her to believe her discovery.

“How can this be?” Reaching down, she rubbed Chaucer’s belly. He was fully stretched out beside her now.

“Meeeoow,” he murmured, still purring albeit more softly than earlier.

“They say everyone has a twin, don’t they?” Megan shook her head as her gaze remained fixated on the photograph. This was the first time she noticed the torn edges of the picture. Then her attention moved to the sunset in the background. “Oh my! It’s lovely. Just like the first night we were here, Chaucie.”

Chaucer’s eyes slowly closed and his purr dwindled to a very light hum.

“Oh, my baby’s tired. The life of a pampered cat; it’s so tough isn’t it, sweetie?” she whispered softly before carefully standing up. Her bare feet quietly carried her over the plush carpet to the tile of the kitchen. Resting on the counter, still amid the bills, was the letter she received in the mail. The rose color of the stationery was brighter, crisper than that of the notes she just found. Newer. Fresher.

She set the folder down on the counter. Picking up the vivid rose stationery, Megan reread the message.

My Dearest,
It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. When you
disappeared it nearly broke my heart. I noticed
you have a new car. Please meet me at the pier
on Friday at sunset. And wear a single white
rose in your hair. I’ve never forgotten how
beautiful you were that first night I saw you.
Yours,
L

“Rose, what’s your story? Why did you leave? He seems like such a romantic. Any girl’s dream…” Megan couldn’t help but fantasize.

***

It was Friday afternoon and Megan was busily typing away on her laptop. She loved her balcony and the breeze blowing off the water. It was truly the perfect place to work. While she had made considerable progress with her story in only a couple days, since discovering the folder of notes, she was distracted today. It was Friday. Mother Nature’s daily sunset extravaganza was set to commence shortly. No, it wasn’t just any Friday; it was the Friday Luke was sure to be waiting on the pier for Rose.

Megan entertained the idea of going. Oh how she wanted to meet Luke. She yearned for more – more details of their romantic, yet short, interlude.

“No, it wouldn’t be right,” she told herself.

Before she knew it she had her laptop folded over and tucked under her arm, tightly resting against her chest. “How can I not?”

***

Chaucer lay curled up in the bathroom sink with Megan standing over him. She meticulously applied foundation, eyeliner, eye shadow, blush and lip gloss.

“Do you think this is a mistake? To go?”

Chaucer reached out with his right paw and gently touched Megan’s stomach.

“Awe, my sweet Chaucie. I know this is crazy, but I’m like you kitties. Curious. If I don’t go, I’ll always wonder.”

“Meow.”

Megan scratched Chaucer’s head before wrapping her fingers around her brush and raising it to her head. First she gathered her hair, pulling it back into a ponytail.

“No. This won’t do.”

She tugged the lime green elastic ponytail holder out, releasing her hair allowing it to fall gently over her shoulders. After running the brush through it until she was satisfied, Megan lightly sprayed her hair with unscented, non aerosol, extra strength Suave hairspray. She tactically placed the white rose she had purchased this morning behind her right ear.

“Gotta get dressed now.”

Megan strode into the bedroom and donned a pale yellow, soft cotton sundress with embroidered green flowers around the neckline and hemline. A satin green sash encircled the waistline of her favorite knee length, summer dress. She chose a pair of simple gold hoop earrings and a gold necklace with a cat charm. Slip-on brown sandals completed her outfit.

“Okay. How do I look?” she asked, stepping back into the bathroom.

Chaucer peered up at her before hopping out of the sink onto the toilet. From there he jumped into the tub, went over to the faucet and waited for drops of water to fall against the porcelain so he could lap them up with his tongue.

“Chaucer, you have fresh water in the kitchen,” she smiled. “Wish me luck. It’s almost time for the sunset,” she announced. Butterflies danced in her stomach, as if she was going on her first date. Yet, this wasn’t a date at all. Not really. Still the butterflies persisted, whirling around restlessly to pop music.

***

The pier was a about a ten minute walk from her house. She decided to stroll along the beach. Slipping off her sandals, she held them in her right hand and let the soft, warm sand envelop her toes and feet. Each step felt like an invigorating foot massage. The sound of waves crashing ashore relaxed Megan somewhat. She always found solace when she was at the beach. For a moment she stopped, closed her eyes and let herself enjoy the ambiance - the sand against her feet, the sound of the ocean singing its calm melody and the wind faintly blowing an embracing breeze around her.

About five minutes later Megan arrived at the pier. She realized she had no idea how she was going to recognize Luke. Did Luke and Rose have a special place on the pier? She had no clue. The letters never mentioned where exactly they met. She decided to walk about halfway down the pier. A bench overlooked the ocean, but she opted to stand against the wooden banister. Swirls of shell pink and light blue delicately painted the sky as the sun began its daily descent. Megan watched the waves rushing to the shoreline in perfect unison. In the distance a small boat swayed to the ocean’s music.

The gentle tap on her shoulder startled her.

“Rose? I’m so glad you came,” a deep voice said softly, in an English accent.

Megan turned around.

“No. I’m Megan. I live at 704 Ocean Drive now…”

Her green eyes met his deep blue ones just as the sunset reached its pinnacle of brilliant pink and rich blue swirls. The symphony Mother Nature produced tonight was much like the first night Megan gazed out from her balcony admiring the show. And just like that night, she knew she was home. Really home.

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