Since her lover died, Janine had moved to the coast for solitude and for the peaceful reminder of her man and his love of the tides. Helmut had always been most at peace when he could hear the tides and see the waves.
Three years ago, he was on a fishing trip when his foot got trapped in a loop of rope that sprang loose from the capstan. It had happened so quickly that she didn't have a chance to take in the horror. One minute they were happy, chatting about going back to his cabin, the next she was alone on the deck-with only his cap to remember him by.
From that day on, it had turned her into nothing more than a shell of the lovely lady she was before. Her once luscious black hair was now straggly and unkempt. She had lost so much weight that her clothes hardly touched her body as she walked. Her frail body longed for the touch of his gnarled hands, a touch she would never feel again.
That summer night was forever etched in her mind. What should have ended with a moonlight dance, happily splishy-splashing in the tide had ended with her crying by the dock as she fought the impulses to sail away and drown herself in the sad memory of a love left unfulfilled. They had made such great plans and now they were ashes.
Walking back to her little shack by the beach; the gulls cawing in the air as the boats came into harbour. With tears in her eyes she climbed the small hill they had chosen for their house to stand on with its lovely views of the seas and harbour-it should have brought happiness but all it brought was pain.
Opening the door, she caught the salty tang of the wind on her cheeks. “Strange?” she thought.
Closing the door behind her, she went across the room and into the kitchen to put the kettle on for a cup of tea that she always took at midday, to warm herself up after the walk along the sea walls.
The cold winds had blown the sands from the beach onto the shore and she was covered in sand, so she decided a shower was in order.
Walking slowly with her head bowed Jannine turned the hot tap on and mixed in the cold to create the right steam to clean the salt and sand off. Being far away from people the shower had a window with a view of the cove below, nobody came this far off the tracks so privacy was not an issue to consider.
As she looked out of the window, tears flowing for her loss. Jannine thought she saw a familiar figure cross the path below “ No, it can't be Helmut. I just wish he was here.”she thought.
With the relaxing steam easing her tired limbs, she sat on the stool they had kept in the shower for their games of love. The firmness of the wood on her bottom reminded her of the reality of her loss-on the stool, they had carved their initials to show their devotion to each other.
Wiping the steam off the window, Jannine got a shock. The stranger was outside and as she looked at him he stared back through the steamy glass.
Quickly grabbing a towel to cover herself she dashed to the door to see who it was-nobody was in sight-yet he had been there only seconds ago. The more she thought about it, the more weird it became.
Going back inside, she noticed a familiar aroma-”Now I am creeping myself out!” she said under her breath “Helmut's gone and now I'm smelling his pipe tobacco.” Going back to the shower, Jannine thought she saw a figure in her shower “What the hell are you doing here-creep!” she yelled.
The figure never moved but stood with its back to her. It then slowly dissolved into the steaminess as if it was never there at all. Still shaking, she sat on the stool before she collapsed with knowledge that somebody could be watching her.
With the warm water running down her back and thighs, Jannine began her wash. All the time wondering who it was ? And why had it shown itself to her? As the steam cleansed her body and she relaxed, she began to feel totally at ease. In her dream state she could feel his touch again and smell the salt on his body as he got off the boat after the fishing trips. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glance of something merging with the steam and forming a body. Gently the figure merged with the steam and smoothed her body as she melted in into its warm and loving care.
Not wanting to hear the answer she still needed to ask the question “Is it you love?”
No reply came back, so Jannine turned to see what was there. All she saw was a steamy curtain with water running down it.
Casting her mind back to the fateful day and the weeks after it, all she could recall was the line in the Gazzette. “Helmut Charbrier, skipper of “The lost shores” was lost at sea today, presumed dead. No body has been recovered.”
At the time, Jannine knew with rip-tides, and under-currents and rock ledges, his body may never be found. Had he come back to her?