Cast Ashore — a novelette in 15 chapters

Cast Ashore: Chapter 12

An Undeserved Grace

Steve Fendt
4 min readNov 5, 2023

--

Rippled sandy beach with parallel tracks of two shorebirds
‘Walkin’ With My Baby’ — author image

The uneasy, stormy late summer passes into a warm, quiet autumn. Kaja and I settle into a routine.

The consensus is that my place is charming — and romantic in a grungy, boho way — but hers is more comfortable. She comes down to fetch me from my work every evening.

‘This studio is amazing! The cutest thing I’ve ever seen. How ever did you get the tram? How ever do you find anything in here? What’s this? I love that — how did you make it?’

Endlessly curious, she loves hearing about my work, right down to the details I always thought tedious to anyone but myself.

We open a bottle of red on the deck. Eat chips, watch the sun go down. Wave at curious locals walking by, trying so very hard not to seem nosey. Giggle a lot at their expense.

I never thought to experience such a thing again.

Those days and nights of limerence. Those endless moments when the profile of a nose, the turn of a cheek, the soft pressure of thigh on thigh, arm on arm is enough to fill life to the brim. That wonder in the otherness of the adored other. I’d thought that it was gone for ever, a fading dream of my youth.

Now I live it again, that time out of time. No longer with the certitude of youth — that this is how life will always be from now on — but with the gratitude of age for a fleeting, undeserved grace.

Where we eat depends on the menu. I light up my wood-fired barbie for bream or snapper; she cooks paella or pasta on her sleek modern hob.

Either way, we end every evening in her king-sized bed with the soft, white sheets. Round about midnight, I kiss her drowsy face softly, let myself out and walk back down the road to my own cold, rumpled single bed. Although I love lying by Kaja’s side — more than anything in the world — I can’t sleep there. Not yet.

Mornings are much as they have always been: solitary walks on the beach, picking up treasures, then up to the café for coffee. I’m still not allowed to traipse sand on the floor.

--

--

Steve Fendt

https://stevefendt.substack.com Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.