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By Paula Shablo
For Shane, there was never a question of if the spring storms would come. They would come; they always came.
The only question was: when?
Well, that wasn’t entirely true. The other question was whether he’d have enough advance notice to batten down the hatches—so to speak.
Year after year, it was the same: Summer, Fall, and Winter devoted to repair and replace; Spring, watch it all be beaten, battered, and destroyed.
Every. Single. Year.
It seemed his every penny earned went into putting back together what Spring storms tore apart. Time after time, he’d have to try to explain his thinking to parents, lovers, children.
Why? Why did he stay?
He’d stand on the shoreline, looking at his house, and ask himself that question every year. He’d resolve to repair quickly, sell the place and move inland—far enough from the shores to avoid this annual mess, but still close enough to come to the beach on a regular basis.
But—”Look at that view!” he’d exclaim. The house and deck, by this time intact and looking good again, fairly sparkled in the sun. Autumn, year after year, brought him a sense of accomplishment. The roof looked great, the siding was new, the deck was stained and sealed. Sitting outdoors, with whomever had posed the, “Why not get out now?” question, Shane would look out at the ocean, ever-changing as the water rolled in to meet the white sand, and marvel.
There was nothing to marvel at today, however. You could only repair a house if enough of it was left standing to work with.
Shane stood with his back to the ocean, tears obscured by pelting rain, and stared at the remains of his home—a home that had been through over a decade’s worth of devastating storms, new roofing, new siding, new windows, new decks, sometimes new interior walls, and twice entire new rooms.
Flattened. A bedroom wall here, a bathroom door there; the refrigerator on its side; the stove upside-down on top of what looked to be the remains of the kitchen island. A lone door—perhaps the one to the master bedroom—stood in its frame as if a sentry looking over its fallen comrades.
A search of the beach and surrounding areas would probably turn up beds, televisions and the like. There were no signs of those things here. Shane supposed they might also be buried under wood and aluminum.
Oddly enough, the deck was almost entirely intact. “The mighty oak,” Shane whispered, then snorted a bitter laugh.
Hearing the “slap, slap” of running feet hitting saturated sand, Shane turned and saw his son approaching. “Landon,” he said, his voice rough with grief.
Landon stopped running when he reached his father, bent at the waist to grasp his knees and coughed. “Jesus, Dad,” he choked. “What are you doing still out in this shit?”
Shane sighed deeply, staring at the deck. “Lan,” he said, “I think I’ll buy a motorhome and park it right there along the deck.”
“And when the storms are coming, I’ll just drive away…” Shane’s voiced hitched, and he tried to stifle the sob in his throat before his son could tell he was crying.
Landon, who was nothing if not a good son, ignored the obvious. His father had a right to his grief, even if they had all begged and pleaded with him for years to, “Move, for God’s sake, move away!”
He draped an arm around Shane’s shoulder and turned him away. “It’s past time you learned to come in from the rain,” he joked lightly. “Come on, Dad, there’s a hot coffee in the car with your name on it.”
Shane sighed again. “April showers,” he said. “No May flowers this time, I reckon.”
“You’ll get your flowers,” Landon told him. “We’ll put ’em on the deck in soda cans. You can drive them around in your motorhome.”
Shane grunted in surprise. “Really?”
Landon grinned, pushing his father along to the car. “Why not?” he said. “We’d all feel better knowing you could just drive off before the next storm hits. Melissa will love helping you shop for it. And think of the money you’ll save next year when you only have to rebuild a deck.”
“I was kidding,” Shane protested.
“Too late.” Landon opened the car door and gave Shane am encouraging shove. Shane got in, and Landon shut the door.
As promised, there was coffee. Shane grabbed up the cup and sipped the steaming brew.
Landon got into the driver’s seat, shut the door, and started the engine. “Listen, Dad. If you do that—buy a motor home—you’ll still have that same great view.”
Shane smiled gratefully at his son. “Still,” he said, “there’s a lot of work to do.”
“After the storm, Pop.”
And Shane nodded. “Yes. After the April shower.”
***For Shane Thompson
People go through a lot for their beautiful views. It’s worth it to them, even if others can’t understand why they do what they do.
I knew a Shane who never gave up his view. I miss that guy. He was a good one.
Please visit Paula’s blog and follow her! https://pshablo.blogspot.com