The long skirt flaps around my ankles, hem sodden from the splashing of the waves. A huge sandy paw mark decorates the front of my Tee-shirt.

I had woken in the dark, yearning to go to the coast. I’d not even given it a thought the night before, but suddenly it was the perfect idea, albeit a crazy whim. We left town by five a.m., racing westwards, the sun chasing us. The drive took twelve hours, but we won. The sun had a ways to go before it would set.

“Magic” the dog travelled most of the way with his head out the sunroof. Packing involved grabbing some tops and a pair of shorts. The ridiculously floppy sun hat unearthed at a garage sale in one of the small villages on the way through. A couple of pairs of outlandish earrings and sandals, left back at the car, completed my wardrobe. Makeup was a thing of the past. I had probably forgotten my toothbrush, but I could always pick one up later.

For now we were wandering along the shore, lost in the surf and the moment. I, kicking at the waves, Magic pouncing on every bit of driftwood. Bending forward, I plunge my hands into the water, and watch the journey wash away in the surf. I reach up and ruffle my unruly mop, then throw back my face to worship the last of the sun.

The flash off her pearl earrings could have been what caught my eye. I see her from afar, a solitary figure on the seascape. She stood there, head held defiantly, shoulders rigid. Staring towards the horizon. A look of intense concentration on her face. Her shoes would have given her a little more height, had the heels not sunk into the sand. It would be impossible to get the grit out of those sheer nylons later. Lines of strain on her face added years. The breeze off the ocean did not dare disturb her impeccably coiffed hair. Her burgundy suede skirt looked uncomfortably tight and the white silk blouse buttoned all the way up to her neck. A rope of pearls complemented the bracelet around her wrist. Long, manicured nails stained perfectly to match the burgundy skirt… the alligator bag… the briefcase. She was the epitome of a successful Female Entrepreneur. A Goal Setter, a Priority Manager.

The dog, uninterested in anything that isn’t edible, seems not to notice her presence.
She looked at her wrist watch, and reached down to pull a leather, (burgundy) binder from her briefcase. She consulted the day timer. Pulling free the colour co-ordinated pen, she checked something off a list. She flipped to another section, made another notation, and snapped it shut. A tight smile momentarily captured her lips. It almost seemed as if she had checked off a previously penciled in Thing to Do : “5.15 5.20 p.m. : watch sunset.”Mission accomplished.”

Spiritual Strategic Goal met for the day.

I come closer. She turned to look at me, sympathetically taking in my somewhat dishrevelled appearance. I grin and shrug my shoulders, starting to explain: “Dogs!”

Aaaah, dogs! I belatedly call for Magic. The woman’s pristine appearance just begged: “Jump on me”. He’s a wonderful fellow, but 100 lbs of Lab is a little overwhelming at the best of times and she definitely did not look the doggie type!

But he wanders right past her. Oblivious.

I hurry on by, relieved at my narrow escape.

Suddenly I’m ambushed from behind. Killer dog strikes again! Hooking his paw around my leg, his unique rugby tackle. I crash headlong into the waves, then surface, spluttering, sopping wet. Magic is barking uproariously, prancing up and down like the Lipizzaner a psychic swore he had been in a past life. I lunge at him, hugging him as hard as I can my only revenge. He struggles, furiously, out of my grasp. I fall back laughing so hard I can barely breathe.

I turn to see if I can catch a last look at her, but she had completely disappeared. There was not a trace of her left. All that success, all that poise, the goals, the matching briefcase.
Thank goodness.

©  Shena Meadowcroft