Title: The Beach
Author: Jaye Frances
Alan loves the beach. More than a weekend respite, it is his home, his refuge, his sanctuary. And for most of the year, he strolls the sand in blissful solitude, letting nature—and no one else—touch him. But spring has given way to summer, and soon, the annual invasion of vacationers and tourists will subdivide the beach with blankets, umbrellas, and chairs, depriving Alan of his privacy and seclusion—the fundamental touchstones of his life. Resigned to endure another seasonal onslaught of beach-goers, Alan believes there is nothing he can do but prepare for the worst.
But fate has other plans.
Delivered to him on the crest of a rogue wave, the strange object appears to have no purpose, no practical use—until Alan accidentally discovers what waits inside. Now he must attempt to unravel an ageless mystery, unaware that the final outcome will change his life, and the beach, forever.
In the companion novella Short Time, you’ll meet a respectable but bored middle-class executive, who exchanges his future for six months of excess and extravagance, only to find out the price he must pay for his hedonistic indulgence is beyond anything he could have imagined.
One of the things I enjoy most about traveling to exotic locations is learning about local customs and traditions, and there’s no better place to engage in conversation with the residents than a village craft market. I’ve often gathered great story ideas as I learn the meaning behind a particular design, color, or pattern of a hand-crafted item.
If I’m extremely fortunate, I’ll have the opportunity to meet one of the elder female members of the family. Many of these respected “first ladies” are often the matriarch of four generations—old enough to possess a personal and fascinating knowledge of a culture that pre-dates the influence of tourism and commercial exploitation, when a belief in the supernatural was a common and accepted part of everyday life. On rare occasions, I’m treated to a glimpse at a personal Talisman, fetish, or charm—not for sale, but with a fascinating history which usually includes the source of the mystical influence believed to benefit the owner.
In the following excerpt, the main character, Alan, examines an unusual object he found along the shore earlier in the day when he was caught in a storm on the beach. Giving it little thought, he puts it aside and heads to the market. But when he arrives back home, the curious container appears to be putting on a show inside his kitchen . . .
After changing into dry clothes, Alan sat at his dining table to examine his new find. About eight inches high and three inches in diameter, it resembled a small lamp base. But there were no holes or seams from the process of manufacture, and the maker had left nothing that could be opened or twisted free to reveal the interior. One end had been finished with a smooth rounded crown while the opposite was flat, allowing the piece to stand upright.
The material from which it was constructed appeared to be a union of wood and stone, the combination so densely fused that it was difficult to determine which comprised the base component and which was inlaid. Smooth to the touch, the surface was patterned with intertwining ribbons of deep purple and burgundy, the colorful helix forming the unique design that had first caught Alan’s attention as he pulled it from the water.
“It’s just a bauble,” Alan said aloud. “A rich person’s trinket accidentally dropped from a passing yacht. Someone probably paid a small fortune for it, and now I bet they don’t even know it’s gone.”
Alan glanced at his watch. There was still time to get his shopping done before the beach-plundering weekenders took all the good parking spots. He set the object aside, grabbed his grocery list, and headed out for the store.
A visit to the market usually took no more than an hour, but street maintenance on the main thoroughfare had strangled the traffic, stretching the round trip into a two-hour stop-and-go crawl. By the time Alan returned home he was fuming.
“Damn crazy tourists.” Shifting his shopping bags from one arm to the other, he fumbled with his house keys. “This used to be a decent place to live. No traffic, plenty of parking, didn’t have to fight your way down the aisles to get a loaf of bread. Now, it’s overrun with—”
Alan stopped his ranting mid-sentence. His entire kitchen was bathed in rainbow–fused light. More curious than concerned, he tracked the brightly hued beams to their source—his newfound knick-knack. Picking it up, he felt a twinge of excitement as he watched the full spectrum of reflected sunlight dance in concert with the movement of his hand. “Must be some kind of prism,” he said, his focus captured by the hypnotic display of color. “Good juju,” he added, recalling how some of the Haitian street merchants referred to their good luck charms.
“I’ll put it on the deck. That’s where my juju bottle belongs.”
He quickly changed his mind. Someone will see it there and try to claim it.
Although Alan didn’t know exactly what his newfound treasure was or where it came from, he hadn’t gone to all the trouble of retrieving it from the sea only to have some muscle-bound beach bum take it from him.
I’ll keep it in the house, hang it from the main entry beam where it can catch the light for most of the day. Or on the windowsill, to reflect the late afternoon sun. I’ll decide tomorrow.
About the Author:
Jaye Frances is the author of The Kure, a paranormal-occult romance novel; The Possibilities of Amy, a coming-of-age romance novella; The Cruise-All That Glitters, a humorous adult satire about love on the high seas; The Beach, a sci-fi supernatural tale about the possibilities—and horror—of wishful thinking; Love Travels Forever, a collection of poignant and touching short stories; and the upcoming adult erotica series, World Without Love, to be released Summer 2014. Born in the Midwest, Jaye readily admits her life’s destination has been the result of an open mind and a curiosity about all things irreverent. When she’s not consumed by her writing, Jaye enjoys cooking, traveling to all places tropical and “beachy,” and taking pictures – lots of them. Jaye lives on the gulf coast of Florida, sharing her home with one husband, six computers, four cameras, and several hundred pairs of shoes.
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