This is a story I put together using several of the words I had put up as a challenge.
Please feel free to turn off the music
Eight Hours Of Heaven
It was looking as though it was going to be a foggy night as Melane hurried toward the riverbank where she kept her small motorboat tied next to a short, little, brick wall. She had to do some fancy high stepping to clear the hollow logs that served as memories of a huge wildfire that had passed through these parts some fifteen years ago. This was a nightly ritual for her, as she would head down the river to the nightclub district. She didn’t care much for the work, but this was her moneymaker. As she passed the building with the large waterwheel, she docked her boat. She then applied a thick layer of bright red lipstick, double knotted the shoelaces on her saddle shoes, and headed toward the club door. It wasn’t easy being a dime-a-dance girl, but this was wartime and the servicemen would flood the club wanting to spend a little time with local ladies.
When she was entering through the back door of the dance club, she smiled as she noticed that the strange brickwork and the dark rounded door looked rather like a donut hole, in the misty moonlight. As she passed the icebox, she grabbed a glass from the counter, a bottle of soda pop and a few ice cubes. She had a feeling that it was going to be a long night, as was the case on most Saturdays.
As Melane hurried into the main dance room, she nearly ran over a young Sailor. When she tried to apologize for her clumsiness, she realized that she was in the grasp of an absolutely gorgeous blue-eyed Navy man. Unable to take her eyes from his, for a long moment, she stepped back offering her hand for a handshake and introduced herself. “Hi, Sailor, my name is Melane, sorry for nearly running you over.” “I was almost late for work, and needed to get out here on the floor.” “Will you EVER forgive me?” She batted her long eyelashes at him and gave him a big grin.
Melane had a smile that could light up even the darkest night and a face as pretty as a porcelain doll. “Umm, I’m Robbie, sorry, I’m from Iowa, are you from around here? “Sure am, born and raised just a couple miles from here.” Melane replied. “Right down near where the river meets the sea, do you know the area?”
Stunned by her beauty and outgoing personality, Robbie was finding it hard to collect his thoughts. “So you work here, Melane?” “Yep, been working here since shortly after the war broke out, and I better get to work now, too, before my boss makes sawdust out of me and sprinkles me on the floor with the rest of it”
Robbie was looking at Melane and thinking; sawdust? Perhaps stardust, but she could never be anything as common as sawdust. “Since you are working, can I buy this dance?” “And if you don’t mind, I would be honored if I could buy your dances all night till closing time.”
Melane accepted his offer and told him where to go pay while she got a table for them. “Oh, Robbie, would you like a soda pop?” “I’ll get you one and meet you at that table over in the corner.” Robbie was walking on air, his only night of leave before heading back out to sea and he meets the most beautiful girl in the world. “Hotdog!” he muttered and hurried over to pay the proprietor.
Not wanting for his feelings of excitement to be too obvious, Robbie, took a deep breath and walked casually over toward the table where Melane was sitting. She flashed a big smile at him as he approached the table, quietly admiring how handsome he looked in his uniform.
They sat and talked for about an hour when Melane said, “Listen, you paid for all my dances, let’s dance a bit, otherwise all the girls will give me a bad time about it for the next week.” She jumped up and grabbed his hand and dragged him out onto the dance floor. She could really dance and seemed to be having fun showing him all her flashy moves. For some reason, this Sailor was getting under her skin, which was not a usual situation for her. There was just something special about this one, she felt really comfortable with him, like she had known him for years.
After a few dances, Robbie said, “Hey, I bought out your card, what do you say we get out of here and take a walk for a bit?” “All the smoke in here is making me need some fresh air.”
Melane said she’d be right back, “I want to grab my sweater and handbag from the closet in back.” “Don’t leave without me. Okay?” She hurried, and when she returned, Robbie helped her into her sweater and she wrapped her arm around his and led him out the front door; smiling widely at all of her friends as she said her goodnights. As they left the club, she was glad to see that the fog had lifted and a huge snowball moon was lighting up the night.
“So, how much time do you have before you have to report back to your ship?”
“I have to be checked in by 0600 hours.” “We ship out shortly after that” “It’s just my kind of luck to meet the girl of my dreams with only a few hours in port.”
The girl of his dreams, Melane liked the sound of that, and tried hard not to let her disappointment show regarding the short time that they would have to spend together.
“That gives me about seven and a half hours to take you on the grand tour of this little town.” “What do you say, you interested in seeing all my favorite places by moonlight?”
Robbie was enamored. She could have spent the next seven hours showing him a sandbox and he would have been in heaven. “Sounds like a good time to me, you lead the way.”
Robbie took Melane’s hand as they walked along the streets. She showed him all her favorite little shops, the churches and the local high school. As they looped back around and down the next street, they walked into a small park. They stopped for a few minutes to sit on a bench and admire the beauty of the night. There seemed to be a million stars out in the sky, and Robbie was pointing out and naming all the constellations for her. She found herself captivated by him.
“Hey, she said, I have a small motorboat docked right over there behind the waterwheel, would you like to go for a little ride along the river?”
They both climbed into the boat and Melane started up the motor. It was a beautiful night and Robbie was enjoying being alone with her. She took them through the backside of the nightclub district. There was music coming from each of the clubs as they would pass them. They could hear Big Band music in one, bluegrass in the next. They even heard the tune for the hokey-pokey coming from one of clubs that was set up for the teenage crowd. They both were laughing and telling stories as they motored along.
Melane turned the little boat around and headed back. As she pulled into the dock, Robbie leaned over and kissed her cheek. Her heart skipped a beat, and she wondered why this sailor boy from Iowa could make her feel so giddy.
It was getting into the morning hours, but Melane wasn’t feeling the least bit tired. “Let’s walk down to the shore, by the harbor, you want to?” she asked.
“Sure, that sounds great, and you are the one directing the tour, so I am following you, remember?”
When they got down to the beach, they took off their shoes and socks and walked along the shore. They stopped to sit for a bit on the edge of the water. Melane dug down and pulled the sand from beneath the surface where it was damp from the underground moisture and started building a sand castle. “When I was a little girl, I would sit for hours on the shore with my dad building sand castles, I haven’t done this for years.” The moonlight was dancing through the golden curls in her hair and her face looked so sweet and innocent as she sat there building in the sand.
Robbie was feeling himself falling hard for this girl, and Melane was beginning to realize that this was an evening she was never going to forget; but it was wartime, and in a few hours, he would be shipped out. The very thought of that made her heart ache. Robbie reached over and touched her cheek. Turning her face to him, he kissed her mouth. Melane could feel her heart pounding so hard she thought it was going to jump out of her chest. She didn’t want this moment to end. They shared a few more sweet and delicious kisses and spent several moments just staring into each other’s eyes.
They walked along the shore for a while and then up onto the dry sand. They lay down beside a large sand dune and Robbie put his arms around her. Melane snuggled in next to him and laid her head on his chest. Robbie kissed her on the top of her head as they both lay there cuddled together. They spent their time talking about their childhoods, his time in the Navy and how he, even in wartime, had been able to see so much of the world. They talked about the times they’d each had a heartbreak or two and how it had kept them from getting seriously involved again. Mostly, they talked about how fate had brought them together, on this night, and about how surprised they both were at the strong feelings they shared. Melane wanted to give herself to Robbie in the worst way, but she knew that it wouldn't be right. After all, he was leaving and she would always wonder if he would ever return and if he would think her cheap and just forget her if she gave in to her desires.
The light of the sun was starting to show on the edge of the horizon and both Melane and Robbie knew that they needed to start their walk back to the harbor. It would soon be time for him to say goodbye and the very thought of it brought tears to her eyes and a lump to her throat. She wondered how someone could have made such a strong impression on her. How could she feel like he was the right one for her after such a short time together? How would she feel later after he had shipped out? She knew how she was going to feel, sad and empty hearted.
As they neared the harbor, Melane could see Robbie’s ship. It was a Destroyer, hard to miss in the harbor where most of the ships were much smaller. She could read her name in bold letters on the side of the hull, U.S.S. Picking. She stopped in her tracks, clinging tightly to Robbie’s hand. She pulled him to her. “I wish you didn’t have to leave so soon.” “I wish we had more time.” “I can’t believe that in the short time I have spent with you, I have fallen in love with you.” “Please be careful, I couldn’t bear to lose you in battle, Robbie, I swear.” “Will you come back here when the war is over?” “Will you remember me until then?” “If you ever ship into this harbor will you promise to find me?” Her eyes were welling with tears and her voice was breaking. He held her tight for a moment then brushed the tears from her cheeks and softly kissed her eyes.
“Before tonight, I wasn’t much worried about battle, Melane.” “I wasn’t concerned about if I would make it back home, but now, I have a reason to come back, and that reason is you.” “So no more tears, or you will have me crying in front of all my fellow sailors, and you just know I will never hear the end of it.”
She took a deep breath and pulled herself together, feeling sort of foolish for blurting out all that was in her heart, but realizing that she may not ever have another chance to tell him how she felt. “I want you to remember me, Robbie.” Reaching into her pocketbook, she pulled out a copy of her high school picture. “This is a couple of years old, but it is the only picture of myself that I have in my wallet.” She turned it over and wrote her address on the back and signed it, I will love you always, Melane. Robbie took the picture and promised her he would never be without it; that he would keep it with him until they were together again. She wrote his military address down as he gave it to her, securing it in her wallet under a large paperclip. She vowed to write to him often. He pulled her to him and kissed her on the forehead. “I love you too, Melane.” “I didn’t think that I was ever going to find the girl for me, and I certainly never dreamed that I would find her in a dance club, but tonight, I have given my heart to you, and I promise that I will come back to you as soon as I can.”
They walked silently to the dock where his ship was waiting. Sailors were walking up the ramp onto the ship and the ship’s bell was ringing. Robbie wrapped his arms around Melane and kissed her with a passion that made her skin burn. He squeezed her tight. “Whatever happens, always know that I love you.” “I hope you will wait for me, I promise as soon as I can, I will be back here looking for you and we can spend our days building sand castles.” He held her for a long moment then kissed her softly once again. “Take care of yourself for me, Kitten.” He turned and walked up the ramp onto the ship. She suddenly felt as though he were leaving her with only an evening of memories.
Melane stood there for a long time, first waving to the ship as it pulled out then watching it as it disappeared from sight. Her life had changed completely in just a few hours. She began walking back to her little boat, unaware of all that was going on around her. Her thoughts drifting back to the time she had spent with Robbie. She climbed into the boat and began making her way back home. She wondered if Robbie would ever really come back for her or if his world travels would lead him to a more exotic girl, or worse, that she may lose him to the war.
About two weeks later, a letter arrived, it was from Robbie and she was so excited that her hands were shaking. As she tore open the envelope, a cigar band fell onto the table. She wondered what that was doing in her letter, but excitedly opened the letter to read his words. The letter was simple; “Will you marry me?” She picked up the cigar band and placed it on her left ring finger. She grabbed a piece of paper and wrote one word, “YES.” She sealed the envelope with a kiss and took it straight to the post office.
We will build those sand castles she thought, and we will teach our children to build them too, just as soon as this war is over.
Sherry Gail Heim
October 21, 2004
Copyright © Sherry Gail Heim 2004