Many Happy Returns

The flash of green at sunset was a sight he had always wished to view, but something told him that wasn’t a flash on the horizon.

The problem with wishing for things was the disappointment that was inevitable when it turned out to be something entirely different from what you’d led yourself to expect, Randy thought.

He’d been certain that Melody would return to him on a ship. But he’d expected it to be a seafaring vessel.

This…thing–whatever it might be–had just risen to the surface of the water, and then continued to rise above it.

What the hell?

There it was again–that flash of green! It was followed by a flash of blue; red; gold; green again.

Randy swallowed hard, but the lump in his throat remained.

He raised his phone, swept through messages until he found the one he was looking for. “My love,” it read, “look for me on the horizon. I’m happy to say I’m coming home to you. Please be there for me. Melody.”

He looked out across the water again, squinting hard, hoping to see something familiar. Perhaps a sailboat. He saw nothing now, not even the flashes of color he’d previously taken note of.

A voice from behind him: “Did you see that?”

Another voice, off to the right: “I thought I saw–but, no, it couldn’t be…”

“I saw it,” Randy said. “But I don’t see anything now.”

He realized that he wasn’t at all surprised to discover he wasn’t alone on the beach. He should have been. Until people began to speak, he’d believed he was alone. But after what he’d just seen? Apparently, it would be difficult to surprise him again, ever.

He looked around him: there, an elderly man with binoculars studied the sea and the reddening sky; just beyond, a very young woman holding a sleeping infant that looked to be quite new to the world; a small group of teenagers with a middle-aged man; and many more people, all watching and waiting.

“What are we waiting for?” Randy whispered. He didn’t expect an answer, and didn’t get one.

He looked at the old man with the binoculars and wished he’d thought to bring his own. The sun had sunk below the horizon now, and the red glow in the sky was growing darker. There was no sign of the green light.

Randy’s shoulders slumped as the last of his hopes dwindled. All around him he felt, rather than saw, other people stirring and shifting restlessly. The first sound he became aware of was that of soft sobbing. It seemed he wasn’t the only one who felt let down.

“Randy?” Melody’s voice came from far behind him. It was followed by others:

“Susan, are you here?”

“Malcolm?”

It seemed the group on the beach turned in unison as the voices of their loved ones called from the darkness, and soon there were people embracing and sobbing with happiness and relief.

Randy held Melody close and stroked her hair. “How did you get behind us?” he asked. “I saw the flash on the horizon, just over the water.”

Melody shook her head. “The only thing I know,” she said, “is that I found myself with a group of people on the edge of sand, just past the parking lot. We all started walking and calling out. And you’ve found me, now, Randy.” She smiled up at him, and tears coursed down her cheeks. “I know you have questions; so do I.” She sighed. “More questions than you could possibly imagine, really. But that’s for later. Please. For now–please just take me home.”

He did.

This was inspired by a Writers Unite! prompt. Once again, I have bungled the word count. Once again, oh well. I liked the photo.

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