It was that late evening time of day in Florida during early spring, when the mist settles over the water, the sun disappears rapidly behind the hotels, the beach is empty and loneliness wraps itself around you. Sierra ran allowing the tears to fall until her anger turned to sadness.
She hadn’t left town yet and Bret had turned his attentions to another. He had dismissed her as easily as he would dismiss an inept housekeeper. Was she wrong to want a career or was she wrong to have believed that she and Bret had a future together?
Watching the sun set during an evening run on the beach should be a time of joy, but there was no joy in Sierra this evening. It was her last evening in Florida and the longer she ran the sadder she felt. “I really don’t care,” she said to Barnaby as he ran behind her. She glanced back at him as if she expected him to answer, but he just gently wagged his otter-like tail as he followed her along the beach.
Barnaby stopped and sniffed at a shell, just as any brown Labrador is likely to do. Then he ran into the water, splashing about until he came out ahead of Sierra. He stopped briefly and shook the water from his coat, spraying Sierra as he frolicked in front of her. Sierra continued her tirade without noticing. “He’s a jerk. You know it too.” Although she wanted to believe it, Sierra hadn’t quite convinced herself that she didn’t care that her fiancé had broken off their engagement.
Sierra had been running long enough that she was winded, but as she slowed down her thoughts did not. I knew I shouldn’t have come back to Florida, she thought. I should have looked for work in California as soon as I graduated. Sierra had earned a degree in French from the University of Florida, but then decided to pursue her dream. She had gone to Manhattan and had recently graduated from Manhattan’s School of Fashion Design.
She could still hear Bret’s words. “Fashion design is such a frivolous choice for a career,” he said. “You need to settle down so we can get married. You’ll make a great hostess. Together we’ll make a lot of money.”
Money. That is all that matters to him. What I want is unimportant. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she really didn’t care that she wouldn’t be marrying him. It hurt that he had decided to break up but she couldn’t image a life as his wife. They had dated on and off ever since high school. He had always expected her to do what he wanted to do. It had always been about getting together with Bret’s friends, or going hiking where Bret wanted to hike. It had always been about him.
Now, totally winded, Sierra stopped, bent over and grasped her knees. Her long dark braid shifting over her shoulder as she took several deep breaths. The sun, now no more than a strip of yellow low in the sky, no longer cast shadows on the sand. “Well Barnaby, we better get back. Mrs. Browne is going to think I’ve stolen you.”
Barnaby stopped in front of her, held still, except for his wagging tail, and waited while she hooked the leash onto his collar. “Let’s go.” And she headed toward Main Street and Mrs. Browne’s cottage.