A gift for a gift

A gift for a gift

With a faint orange penetrating the dark, she jogs towards uShaka pier. A few steps ahead, she spots a man with as much camera equipment as she heading for the exact spot she plans to photograph from.

 

“Hey,” she calls out, watching him place his camera bag down on to the chunk of golden sand looking down towards the pier, “you’ve stolen my patch!”

 

He smiles at her. “Come, join me,’ he says, gesturing towards the space around him. “More than enough to go around.”

 

Grinning, she passes him and chooses her spot; setting up her equipment as fast as she can, she is eager to capture the sun’s rays as they hit the pier.

 

After a few shots, he moves past her. “Have your winning shot yet?”

 

“It’s waiting for me down at the water,” she says, gathering her equipment together.

 

“Mind if I join you?”

 

They chat about the different colours of the sky, the reflections in the water until reaching the water’s edge. Then silence while they each pick their spots, he in the water up to his ankles and she just before the water reaches her trainers. Why didn’t she wear her sandals?

 

Together they spend time on the pier, watching a group of body surfers riding the waves. He photographs the surfers while she takes in the tranquillity of a perfect morning, and an unexpectedly alluring encounter.

 

“Join me for breakfast,” he says.

 

At Surf Rider’s Food Shack, the closest restaurant nearest to the beach, they settle at a table outside beneath an umbrella, the sun warming by each second, where breakfast turns in to brunch and then almost lunch. They speak freely about everything important in their lives.

 

“Why are you here on holiday without your wife?”

 

“I love the sea and she doesn’t. She’s a homebody – her house is where her heart is.”

 

“So you travel alone? Are you happy doing this? Actually, are you happy?”

 

“I’m happy with aspects of my life.” He delves into his career, his children, grandchildren, home life and his passions. After a few moments, he stops speaking and tries to get her to open up further, desiring to know everything about her.

 

She checks her cellphone for the time, jumps up and exclaims she has to go. He pays the bill and walks her to her car.

 

“Join me tomorrow at North Pier, same time.”

 

Hugging him goodbye, she agrees.

 

A few hours after their goodbyes, he emails her a poem he wrote immediately after she left him.

 

 

Seek, Find.

In darkness he departs,

Where the swift seagull darts.

Images of creation to find,

Where the heart snares the mind.

Seeking pixels of luminosity and hue,

Stumbling on a heart so bold so true.

Yearning for vibrant tones and subtle chromes.

Gazing instead on a spirit that freely roams.

What gem washes this day to shore?

Is this the glow of Dior?

How sweet the chance,

How complex the circumstance.

Leaving the night to find common way,

Traversing the path we often pray.

Pursuing ebb and flow of elusive foam.

Unearthing a sanctuary, oh, the safety of home.

Setting forth before first light,

Revealing a sculptured face, spritely, bright.

Seeking timely slices of earthly beauty,

Discovering instead the soul of Aphrodite.

Setting forth with a life well lived,

Intersecting with a future passionately devised.

How exalted is this glorious day,

That quenches more then I dare say.

 

Just after 5 am the next morning she arrives at the beachfront and spots him gazing out over the ocean. They embrace as though they have known each other for years, not hours.

 

With the sun hidden behind thick clouds, their shots from the North Pier aren’t as impressive as their shots from yesterday.

 

They fall into a comfortable openness. This time she answers his questions as openly as he does and reveals her relationship history.

 

“I can’t believe you’re single,” he says.

 

“I cannot lower my standards while everyone that crosses my path appears to have no standards at all. Why? Astounds me every time. I should be used to it; just shrug and take it all with a pinch of salt but I can’t, I simply cannot put up with something that’s below my par. Where is the respect for themselves, never mind for others?”

 

He agrees with her. She refuses to accept this. “But you are here with me and your wife is at home.”

 

“This is innocent.”

 

“I never said it wasn’t. You have settled for a life that’s below your par.”

 

He contemplates her retort for a moment but does not respond to it.

 

In great detail, he mentions many photographs on her website. She only told him the name of her site once yesterday.

 

Perhaps this is a sign that there is a man out there for her that’s single, that matches her soul. She just hasn’t met him yet. Well, she has now but he’s unavailable. How is it possible to feel such a connection with a stranger and nothing further can be done about it, to only but walk away?

 

Less than a week later, he telephones her and asks if he may send her a book, something that would mean a great deal to her. Without hesitating, she reveals her address. The following day, she’s signing for a large box delivered by DHL. Could this be the heaviest book she’s ever held in both hands?

 

Before she reaches the front door, she’s ripping at the heavy-duty tape. Where are the scissors? Eventually, she opens the lid and finds a Nikon box glinting up at her. She hears herself gasp. She has to steady herself, sit down on the nearest chair. She pulls out a full frame camera from its gold box. She mentioned visiting Dubai to buy herself a full frame camera in the next few months. How can she accept this?!

 

She grabs her phone and selects his number. As she is about to end the ringing, he answers. “I don’t believe it,” she greets him.

 

“What don’t you believe?”

 

“You know exactly what I’m referring to. I truly can’t accept it. But thank you, I do appreciate —“ she hesitates, stops talking. If she appreciates it then she’d easily accept it.

 

He explains why he cannot take it back, and then adds: “To have been able to hold your heart in my hand for a total of 8 hours is the most special gift I’ve ever received. I want absolutely nothing in return.”

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