Thursday, May 19, 2016

Story 135: Off Season

            “Why are you going to The Shore now?” he asked with capital letters.  “Nothing is open and you’ll be bored as a gourd!”
            “Don’t you see, this is the perfect time to go!” she argued as she backed out of the driveway in her car that literally was bursting with her luggage.  “No crowds, free parking – free beach!”
            Freezing beach, you mean!” he shouted at the retreating car as it sped away – he caught a glimpse of a waving hand before everything vanished in the glow of the rising sun.
            Two hours later, she arrived at the southernmost tip of The Shore: a cute little town so old that the whole thing had been preserved in formaldehyde.  She made sure to gaze at the retro houses she normally crawled by in traffic jams each summer, taking advantage of the view now unencumbered by thronging hordes of tourists.  Parking in a random spot on the street just because, she basked in the glow of the flashing parking meter and took a few moments to truly listen to the glorious, impeccable silence.

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            Back in the car, she headed over to the converted-mansion motel, easily finding a space in the lot because she was the only guest.  Most motels in this town would not remain open in January; however, several such as this one had the foresight to know that there always will be a demand once it is seen that the place is open.
            The pool was covered, the sauna was boarded up, the elevators were cordoned off, and there was no heat, but she refused to care.  Peace, quiet, and frigid sea air would be worth any sacrifice, and she was bound and determined to prove that thesis.
            Only one restaurant on the block was open and the lone employee took an hour to catch and prepare her cod dinner, but that just added to the authenticity of the locale.  Ice cream would have been the perfect topper to the meal; she settled for the after-dinner mint.
            She had decided long ago to spend the entirety of the following day on the beach because it was free, and also because it was free (she had a thing for free, and the fees during the summer were in the double-digits).  No other human being was in sight as she planted her umbrella and bundled up in her blankets to stretch out in her lounge chair.  The roaring waves provided a good show and the passing dolphins took turns between laughing in her direction and giving her concerned looks.  The members of the last pod almost beached themselves in order to drive her farther inland just before a blizzard hit – man’s best friend indeed, she grumbled as she gathered her drenched self and belongings and trudged back to the motel while the snowfall accumulated around her.
            After the plows cleared the streets the next morning, she went on her excursions: however, the miniature golf courses, nature trails, and jet ski rentals all were scheduled to open in four months.  The boardwalk itself was open, except in the places where the boards had been pried up to cover the arcades, food courts, and shops (she did manage to sneak in a ride on the swings in the amusement park section, but what fun is swinging yourself over an empty park with no one to match you scream-for-scream?).  The local mall was up and running, but you see one T-shirt/key chain/candle/Christmas tree ornament, you’ve seen them all.  Besides, she did not come to The Shore to Shop – she came to Experience, and Experience she would, even if it was a bit lacking.
            Packing up her car, she bade farewell to the wintry sea as she began her trek back to the humdrum suburb from whence she came.  She would refuse to admit to anyone that they were right about how shut down everything was; however, she was comforted knowing that, for two days, she had ruled a ghost town.

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