Time counts...& keeps counting...
The sea washes up gently on the shore, smoothing the sand, arranging the grains with it's delicate fingers.
Above, an inky blanket of twinkling night. Millions upon millions of stars dance a silent ballet around a crescent sliver of moonlight.
It is fresh on the beach on this quiet night but it is not cold. An autumnal breeze wafts languidly across the shoreline from the north, curling through the jacarandas that line the hillside above the beach, rustling the leaves of the accompanying eucalyptus and caressing the top of the long grass on the hillside.
A lone kangaroo, a compact grey stoops on a patch of ground just off the roadside that winds down nearby. Its nostrils flare, picking up the scent of faint smoke. It turns its head, focuses its eyes and in the dark pools of its pupils, the reflection of a soft reddish-yellow flickering dances briefly, before the young male turns its head slightly away.
A sound, different from the sounds of the night time floats up the hillside from the beach and the kangaroo's tall ears twitch and move with the precision of a radar dish. The sound is foreign, yet gentle...intriguing...
Fingers on the strings. A dance of purpose...
A lone figure sits on an ancient log down on the sand before a welcoming fire. He wears a generous coat, woolen and lined that keeps in the warmth. A knitted cap upon his head, covers his ears, keeps them cosy. A pair of leather gloves lay beside him on the log - for he cannot wear them and play.
He cradles the instrument in his arms, holding it as though it were an extension of himself. It is an exquisite example of fine craftsmanship - of how rosewood, spruce and cedar can brought together with such precision as to warrant a sense of reverence in holding it.
The strings, expertly tuned, deliver a sound that could best be described as sublime. He plays a soft tune, a sequence that soothes him, quiets his mind, has him lost in the majesty of this quiet moment.
The fire crackles generously, licking at the fuel that sustains it. The flames dance while pin points of phosphorescence launch into the sky, disappearing as quickly as they appear - their life so brief yet so intense...
The warmth bathes the man's face and outstretched legs. The heat feels good It nurtures his soul.
It feels good to be alive.
Beside him, lying next to the log, the dog is fast asleep, blissful in his contentment. The black and white fur across his chest and flank rises and falls gently, lulling his master who, every so often steals a glance over at his faithful companion.
A night on the beach like this...could there be anything more perfect?
The man stops playing momentarily and sets the guitar down carefully on a blanket. He cranes his neck to look over his shoulder up the hillside. He can see the lights from a lone house up there and just below it, the beam of a torchlight winks in the darkness as a person approaches along a path that winds down to the beach from the house.
He smiles, knowing who is in possession of that torchlight.
Reaching beside him, he feels for the pile, takes a squat log of wood in his hand and deposits it onto the fires which crackles once more as though gleeful for this new source of fuel.
He watches as a new flurry of pin points shoot into the sky and then casts his eyes skyward, taking in the breathtaking vista above him. The Milky Way stretches like a ribbon across the night, seeming more vivid than he can ever remember it being.
And for a moment, a random thought crosses his consciousness.
'I was there once...for the briefest of moments. I was among the stars, I was one of them...I was where I was meant to be...before I was called back here...
...It wasn't my time'
He smiles again. The uniqueness of his existence is never lost on him, never taken for
granted. He is here...
Two lives existing in one body.
He senses her presence. The dog stirs on the sand beside him and lifts it's head in the direction of the house. The woman emerges from the path and steps down onto the sand, extinguishing the torch's beam.
She takes the back pack off her shoulder as she rounds the log and sits down beside him. Her face is bathed in the warm glow from the fire. Her smile lifts his heart and fills him with love. Her beauty is wondrous. He touches her cheek, a length of her auburn hair that falls from her temple underneath her own woolen cap.
They kiss softly, tenderly before the fire, savouring the touch of each other's lips, of each other's skin. Then they draw back.
He picks up the guitar once more and strums absently as he searches his mind for a tune to play for while she unzips the back pack, revealing its contents. The dog watches them both for
a moment then falls back to sleep, groaning softly.
A bottle of wine, a five year old Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia. Two glasses which she balances on a flattened area of the log upon which they sit. A platter, bone white with a chip at it's edge. It's an old platter but lovingly retained, a sentimental favorite. A cheese knife with a red gum handle. Then she reveals a selection of cheeses which are their favorites. An aged cheddar from Victoria's Gippsland region, a brie - also from Gippsland, a smoked cheese with a waxy rind and, finally a blue cheese from Tasmania - a favorite of his but one she has come to enjoy - marginally.
She arranges them on the plate with some dried figs & some water crackers and sets the plate down on the blanket while she uncorks the wine and pours them both a glass.
His eyes twinkle, picking up the faint aroma of the wine in his nostrils which in turn touches of a memory. He tilts his head as an idea foments. A song has entered his mind and his fingers immediately adjust in preparation to play it.
It is a song called 'Going Home' - a theme song for a movie called 'Local Hero' composed by Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler.
In the absence of a band, he draws upon the sounds of the beach to provide an accompaniment. The sea washing up on the sand, the crackling fire before them, the soft breeze rustling the grass behind them.
She smiles as she cuts off a thin wedge of cheese and pops it onto her tongue then lifts the glass of wine to her lips. His playing is hypnotic, exquisitely beautiful. His skill is beyond doubt. He eases into the lyrical melody then nods the platter before them, hopefully.
She regards him with a mock frown of disapproval then grins, cutting him off a piece of the brie and popping it into his mouth.
Drawing the collar of her own jacket up around her neck, she nestles closer beside him and leans her head upon his shoulder, sighing happily as she listens to him play.
They savor these moments, this time together when they can escape from the busy-ness of their day to day lives, escape to this place of solitude and just be together.
Neither of them thought they would have these precious moments together again. Their experience of the past year, of having been nearly been lost to one another forever had ensured that, never again would they take time for granted, nor would they take circumstance for granted. They would make time for one another, at the expense of all others and enjoy the wonder of their timeless love.
For both Sonya and Andy knew how precious and how fragile life is...
Their evening together, here on their Hambledown beach, is more precious to them than any jewel.