The long, hot summer days had suddenly turned. As if overnight, the fall winds blew in and the leaves were rustling through the trees and down the streets.
I was apprehensive about my annual weekend at the coast; for some reason, I felt a chill come over me. This seemed “out of sorts” as the sinking autumn sun was beating through the windshield, warming the car as I headed west.
I found my way to the house I had rented for the weekend; it was the weekend before Halloween and with families busy back at their homes for the earliest of the fall and winter holidays, the summer rates had been reduced; the property manager assured me it would be a perfect spot for my weekend of solitude.
I let myself in easily with the instructions to the lock box printed on the directions. The home was beautiful and well situated with a magnificent view of the coast. I unloaded my overnight bag and my light box of groceries and placed the bottle of wine in the refrigerator. It was time to explore the beach before the sun dropped too low. Still, I felt a chill that came from within, not from the cool breeze.
Strolling along the beach, I happened upon a driftwood “fort” of sorts; driftwood pieces were carefully fitted and lashed together and appeared to have weathered many a storm. There was no indication of how many years or how many storms this shelter on the beach had withstood. My curiosity led me to the interior of the shelter.
I looked around, wondering when and by whom this fortress had been built, and why? As I poked around, a stronger version of the foreboding I’d felt on the drive over came upon me. I shivered, noticeably, and quickly left the interior of the fort. I glanced back as the sun was setting upon the fortress.
I let myself back into my weekend getaway and opened up the chilled wine. I sat at the large family room window, looking out. Soon the pressures of the day began to drift. I switched into my comfy jammies and, as I poured a second glass of wine, my cell phone let off the buzz and vibrate, indicating my solitude was being interrupted by a text message. Ordinarily, I didn’t perceive this as an intrusion, but tonight, longing for some separation from the “civilized” world, that is exactly what it seemed to be; an intrusion. I ignored it.
Before long, darkness took over the house and I lit my way to the master bedroom. I prepared to sink into the comfortable queen-sized bed, complete with ample down comforters and pillows. I had my partial glass of wine and a book in hand; it was a suspense novel, one I had recently started and anticipated finishing during my solitary weekend. My cell phone buzzed and vibrated again. Again I ignored it.
I settled into bed and before I knew it, two hours had passed. My glass of wine was empty and I prepared to turn off the light. My cell phone sat on the nightstand, indicating two…no, three unread text messages.
Annoyed, I opened up the messages. The most profound chill I had ever experienced overcame me.
The first message:
“Y did U Leave? The tide is coming N! Y didn’t U save me?”
The second message:
“Y did U leave? The tide is coming…”
And a third:
“Y did U leave? The tide…”
And the wind howled and the surf crashed just outside my window…
Somehow, I made it through the night and, anxiously paced around the kitchen as the coffee brewed. The text messages of the prior night were beyond explanation. Was it a dream? I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the phone and review the messages. Before the coffee could even finish brewing, I pulled on my windbreaker over my flannel pajamas, slipped into my tennis shoes and grabbed the cell phone. I knew what I had to do.
Determinedly, I jogged out to the beach and through the fog. I approached the driftwood house and, pausing, tossed the cell phone into the shelter. I was rid of it. I’d deal with making the necessary changes and acquiring a new phone after I had returned home. But for now, hopefully, I was released from the spell of the cell phone.