It was a balancing act along the rocky shore to get a good photo in dawn's light of a magnificent checkered lighthouse that appeared to me to be the anchor for all the firmament above. The silence was golden to boot. There was only the occasional after-shave like slapping of waves upon rock formations. I welcomed the good soaking of my city shoes. There was no scenery like this in the badlands of Indiana I must say.
But there was a another sound beyond a shallow dune as I worked my way back up a sandy trail lined in pompous grass. It was the sudden cry of hopeless grief. A woman stood erect and motionless upon the rocks looking out to sea. I moved closer as the echoing grief dissipated.
"Hullo there", I called. She did not move. Closer to her now, I could see she was holding a harpoon. She appeared to be in a wedding dress and wearing a gold emblazoned black wool jacket of an 18th Century nobleman. She had long magpie black hair tied in back.
"Hullo", I called again, breathless now, barely audible, at the bizarre site. "Was that you. Crying, I mean?" She turned her head and said her first words as though she expected me to be there.
"He has gone". Her voice was low and thick, not the cadence of a woman who had been grieving. A British actress at the edge of a Royal Albert Hall footlight I'd say.
"Who is gone?" I stood just back and to the right, pushed my glasses up closer to my eyes, and peered through my binoculars into the burned out morning mist trying to be helpful. I'm like that when I see a woman in a wedding dress standing on rocks, you see.
"A man", she replied.
"A man I was going to kill", said the bride.
"A groom then, I see", I nodded.
"I was going to kill him", her voice cracked. She dropped the weapon and turned away. I could tell she was crying. Her shoulders bobbed.
"I'm sorry", I said. For the first time she turned around and moved towards me.
Her eyes shined.
"You're a kind soul". She searched me with those shining black eyes up and down. "You're dressed most unusual", she summarized after the inspection. "What is that around your neck?" I touched my binoculars. "Binoculars".
"What are they for"?, she asked.
After explaining the theory of magnification, I noticed she wasn't paying attention, but looking sternly into my eyes.
"Your eyes are different. More knowing".
"That's me", I said humbly, "All knowing".
We were silent, close now, looking out. I was about a foot taller. My heart was calm, never calmer. Dizzying wave after clear wave rolled up at our feet. I asked her her name. "Tatyana," she answered, like I was her first. I told her my name. All three names. And then she said goodbye.
"I hate goodbyes", I said. "Must you go?" I loved her. "You can shoot me if you want".
She smiled and touched my face. A lovely pale hand. She picked up her harpoon and we shook hands like Russian comrades.
photo by Caroline Knopf