The old couple sat in the shade of Live Oaks and palm trees in the little park near the grand resorts along the beach. His hand found hers and they looked at each other with the knowing smiles learned from years of sharing, then turned their gaze back to the beach where high tide was slowly washing away the thousands of footprints left in the sand. It had been a ritual for years now, not every night, but often, coming here to watch the blazing beauty of the tropical sunset. There were a few lazy, fluffy clouds tonight so the view should be extraordinary.
“Well, sweet darlin’, are y’all goin’ to stay here, or would y’all come along to walk with me on the beach”?
“I’ll be comin’ with y’all, sweetheart. Don’t want y’all to be flirtin’ with those young girls down there”, she replied with a chuckle.
Reaching the beach, they shed their sandals and left them in the seagrass along the walkway as they had done for years. The two had become somewhat a fixture along this little stretch of shoreline, first name familiar with almost everyone, even some of the tourists who returned every summer. The soft, warm, white sand caressed their feet as they made their way along their usual route. They were about to pass a pier where some small yachts and sailboats were moored when he stopped.
“Anything wrong?” she asked.
“Nothin’ at all, darlin’, he replied, “Come along with me for a minute…”
He took her hand and led her to the bench at the end of the pier and they sat there, waiting for the sun, now low in the sky, to finally set. Then, with his arm around her, they made small talk for a while as the sinking sun painted the sky with color.
“Y’all remember this pier, darlin’ ?”
“Y’all think I could ever forget it, sweetness ?”
Then before she realized, he had slid to one knee in front of her and took her hand and kissed it.
“Honey, if we had it all to do over again….., marry me, darlin’ girl?”
She stopped him with a smile, “I’d do it over a million times, then maybe I’d get tired of y’all….., maybe…, but I doubt it.”
The red tropical sun had dropped below the horizon, leaving the sky in beautiful hues of red, orange, purple and pink as they walked back up the beach to dinner. Even after 50 years, little had changed for them since the first time they’d sat on that bench at the end of the pier, just the names on the boats.