Vacation Sand

Bob took the grey slacks from his closet, reached his fingers into the cuff to touch the sand and smiled.
Three years ago he and his wife Margaret walked along the beach in the Bahamas to watch the sunset after enjoying a lobster dinner at the resort. They had been married fifty years and decided to celebrate by themselves someplace they had never been before. Margaret came up with the idea of walking on the beach barefoot. The sun disappeared below the ocean after a light show of golds, oranges and pinks. Holding hands, they lightly kissed just as the last rays disappeared.
When they returned home Margaret went through the luggage, trying to decide which items to take to the dry cleaners.
“I definitely want to get the sand and salt water out of my pretty silk dress I wore on the beach that night,” she said. “It’ll be ruined if I don’t. How about your slacks?”
Bob put his arms around her. “No, I want to keep the Bahama sands as a souvenir as long as I can,” he whispered.
“Silly, I’m your souvenir from the Bahamas, but whatever makes you happy.”
Two hours after Margaret left with her silk dress to go to the dry cleaners, a couple of sheriff’s deputies appeared at his front door. She never made it to the dry cleaners. A drunk driver ran a red light and smashed into the driver’s side of the car. At the funeral Bob wore his grey slacks and whenever he felt like he was about to cry he reached down and felt the sand in the cuff.
A day did not pass that he did not go to the closet to touch the slacks because it reminded him of the happiness spent with Margaret, and for the longest time he was content to settle for the sand in the cuff.
One weekend he drove downtown to the farmer’s market to stare at fresh tomatoes and spinach. He never bought any, but he liked to look at them because Margaret used to buy them.
“There’s a sight I thought I’d never see,” a woman’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “A man in Florida not dressed in shorts and a T-shirt.”
Bob looked up to see a short woman with cropped silver hair, a friendly smile and wearing a bright orange, pink and yellow dress. He had never particularly noticed short women before. Margaret looked him straight in the eyes, which he always found excited. But finding a small face with twinkling eyes looking up at him was not a bad experience either, he decided.
“I’m new in town,” she said, walking up to him and extending her hand. “Everybody calls me Bootsie.”
Bob never liked precious nicknames, finding them pretentious. But Bootsie fit this little bubbly bundle in front of him so well, he could not help but smile.
“Are these home-grown tomatoes? I don’t like those they pull off the vine green so they can truck them across the country. They taste yucky, don’t you think?”
Margaret never used words like yucky but the way they danced across Bootsie’s lips made him want to laugh.
“Yes, they’re grown right here.” Bob took a moment to find his voice because he became lost in Bootsie’s blue eyes. He always thought nothing was as beautiful as Margaret’s brown eyes, but blue eyes seemed so happy to him at this moment standing on the downtown street next to a table filled with red tomatoes.
Before he knew it, Bob had accepted an invitation to Bootsie’s house for dinner. Bootsie wanted to celebrate her divorce from her husband of forty years. She finally had decided she could not stand his alcoholism any more.
“If you’re going to drive drunk, you’re not coming back to my house,” Bootsie repeated her ultimatum. “On second thought, don’t come home ever. You’d just lie about drinking anyway.” She looked up at Bob and smiled. “I feel so happy now.”
And that made Bob feel happy. As he changed into clean slacks and shirt to go to Bootsie’s house, Bob put the grey slacks aside to go to the dry cleaners. It was time to let go of the sand.

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