She had waited for hours for him, followed his directions exactly. He had been so precise about what he wanted, so very specific. Bring the old boat, he said, and pull it in behind that spit of land on the south end of the beach. Get as far back into the inlet as you can so that you’re hidden from anyone passing by.
He wanted to meet early, just before dawn, and so she had slept lightly, awakened in the dark, silently slipped into shorts and a sweater, and left the house carrying the blanket and a bottle of water. The boat was a problem: she pushed away from the dock and paddled it out into the dark, waiting until she was far past the neighbor’s beach before starting the engine.
Dawn came in a soft light, and gradually the dark shape of shore rose out of the water. She maneuvered the boat into the cove and by full daylight it was tucked safely back into the shelter of the cove, silent but for the tiny licks of waves against the port side. She waited, huddled under the heavy wool blanket, motionless as stone.
By noon he had not come. The sun was warmer now, almost hot, and her heart was pounding. Did I mistake the time? The place? Could he have meant somewhere else, or some other day?. Did he change his mind? Is he injured or ill? If I wait any longer, how will I explain where I’ve been? She climbed out of the boat, stretched cramped legs and waded into the water for a better look, fear catching her breath and binding it tight in her chest.
It’s going to storm, she thought. He’s not coming. She splashed her cheeks with the cold water and climbed back into the boat.
I will not cry, she promised herself, more in anger than in sadness. I won’t.
She pointed the boat north toward home.