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  • Writer's pictureChristinaSinisi-Author

From Me to You...A Free Short Story.

Below is a short story I wrote earlier this year, titled "The Bench." This story was inspired by another author's story (Melissa Henderson's entry, Second Time Lighthouse Love, in Charleston Light, our LowCountry ACFW anthology found here on Amazon:

Because my story was sparked by hers, I don't feel like I could publish I will give it away for free! Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful week!

By the way, if you like what you sure to check out my books also found on Amazon!

"The Bench"

Maddie dropped her sandals at the end of the boardwalk where they joined a pile of tennis shoes and children’s Crocs. She’d hoped to find the beach deserted this early in the morning, but no such luck.

The salt air came at her in a wave, and she leaned her head toward the sky, closed her eyes. The cool April morning should have also kept people away, but then again, the waves called, and humans answered.

Her pale winter toes dug in the gray South Carolina sand. Inhaling and exhaling, she walked down the beach, above the tide pool, away from the water. Maybe later she’d brave the cold and wade. Right now, memories called her.

Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, boasted some of the most expensive property this side of the Atlantic, revolutionary-war era Ft. Moultrie, the dilapidated cottage her grandmother had left her, and the ugliest lighthouse Maddie had ever seen--otherwise known as "The Light."

Charlie had always said that what “The Light” lacked in beauty, it made up for in utility since it was the only lighthouse in the country accessible to the handicapped. Now, the ugly dominated since age shut it down and the location was closed to the public.

And Charlie was gone.

Maddie came over a dune and face-to-face with their bench and a man who didn’t belong there. “What?”

“Hey.” The tall, muscular not-Charlie interloper jerked to his feet. “I didn’t think anyone else knew this bench existed.”

Maddie forced herself to give him a smile, or the imitation of one. “Same.”

The stranger shoved his hands in the pockets of olive-green sweatpants. “This is a special spot for me.”

He wasn’t just going to leave, the way a gentleman would. “My husband and

I used to come here for our anniversary. He passed away two years ago.”

“My wife and I did the same. It might have been better had she died.”

Shock shut her mouth.

The guy ran his hands through his hair. “That sounded awful. I had just come back from my third tour in Afghanistan two years ago.” His eyes flicked toward hers at the coincidence and the timing, then back toward the bend. “And she left. Abandoned me and our son, just took off.”

“Oh. You win.” Maddie sucked in a stunned breath. She was never that rude. “I’m sorry. I mean, you can have the bench.”

“I’m Matt.” The stranger stuck out his hand and she stared at the muscles in his arm for a few seconds before reaching out and shaking.

“I’m Maddie, Maddie Boyd. Nice to meet you, Matt.” Her breathing settled and she released his hand, and immediately felt the cool of late spring again. “Really, you can have the bench. I'll come back later.”

“No.” He shoved his hands in his pockets again, staring out at the bench. “There’s enough room. We can both sit, be alone with our memories for a few minutes and then be on our way. I wouldn’t want to keep you from remembering a good man.”

“He was.” She didn’t need to be told twice. Maddie sat down on the end closest to her and tried to ignore the feel of the bench bending with Matt’s weight as he resumed his place on the opposite end. “He died in a car accident at thirty. Much too young.”

“Every one of my buddies, every single one but me and Michael Jr., died when our convoy was attacked. I was lucky to survive and come home.”

Maddie stared at the foot or so of weathered wood separating the two of them. The idea that a woman could leave a man when he came home after such a tragedy bounced around in her brain and could not find rest.

She reached across the great divide and touched his hand where he gripped the edge of the bench, knuckles taut and skin stretched. He tensed at her touch.

Maddie stared at her hand as if the body part deserved punishment for going rogue and doing what her brain would never have allowed, had she been thinking. Instead, she squeezed his hand. “Thank you for your service.”

As soon as the words came out of her mouth, she squeezed her eyes shut in pain. The words could not have been more inadequate, lame, stupid, insensitive. She needed coffee. “I’m so sorry.”

Fast, before she could blink, he flipped his hand over and held hers for a matter of seconds before letting go. Their eyes met and she brought her hand back to the cocoon of her part of the bench.

His eyes were an honest brown, steady and filled with lives lived. “Don’t apologize. I know a lot of guys get uncomfortable when someone thanks them. Say they were just doing their job. Or the ones who deserve the thanks are the ones who didn’t make it back. They do deserve more gratitude than I can even start to put in words.” He glanced at the beach again, back at her, and the full force of the strength of this man had her leaning away, and then forward. “But I figure God kept me alive for a reason. I know I don’t want to waste the sacrifice Lieutenant Barrett made when he shoved me to the side.” One more break, his eyes searched for something and then returned to throw her a smile. “He said I had a wife and a boy waiting on me and he meant for me to make it back.”

Maddie wanted to cry, but this pine or oak, she didn’t know the wood, seat had already absorbed enough of her tears. “And you did. Your son, how old is he?”

Matt nodded his chin, and for the first time, she looked where he’d been looking. Silhouetted against the silver sky before dawn, a small child dug in the sand. A woman leaned over him, holding out a plastic shovel.

“My mother’s with him. I wouldn’t have left him near the water by himself for a minute.” Matt leaned forward, elbows bent, every inch zeroed in on the child. “He’s three. He'd just turned one when she left.”

A slice of color rolled above the horizon, the first strains of sunrise. Neither spoke as the first arc of salmon overtook the pale pink. Then, pink transformed to a vital orange and the ball of fire popped up, breaking through the bands of color, one step and then another. All along, the sea gleamed the same silver, a strong foundation, never changing and always the same.

The child on the beach laughed and danced. Matt’s mother spread her arms and stretched against the sun.

“What’s his name?”


Maddie flinched.

Matt threw her a quizzical look. “What, you don’t like Henry? It’s a perfectly respectable name, even if I am an old-fashioned dude.”

Laughter bubbled up in her, not unheard of but a rare occasion since Charlie had died, but she couldn’t help herself in the face of his insulted expression. “No, I love the name. It was Charlie's,” she said, even as he looked at her with a question in his eyes, “my late husband’s middle name.”

He stared and then nodded. “Makes sense.”

“What? Why?”

“For I know the plans I have for you, to prosper and not to fail.” When she opened her mouth to finish the verse, he held up his hand and interpreted her reaction in the wrong way. “I know, I know, the verse is about Israel, not us as individuals, but then again, so were most of the parables. I believe God speaks to us hardheads in every way He can.”

Be still her beating heart. A man who quoted scripture to her on the beach. “No, I think you misunderstood my reaction. I agree completely. I was just going to finish the verse. I truly believe God has a plan for each of us. Evil sometimes gets in the way, but He will work all things for our good.”

The wind spurted and she retreated against the bench she and Charlie had shared for years.

Matt didn’t seem to notice, instead focusing on the lighthouse behind her. “I wonder if this old bench will survive the remodeling of the lighthouse.”

“What?” Her heart stuttered and her speech wasn’t too clear either.

“The lighthouse. There’s a fundraising effort to make repairs so the handicapped can enjoy the views they can’t see any other way. Not on this coast.”

Henry ran toward the water, slipping under his grandma’s hand.

“I have to go.” Matt jerked to his feet. “Come with me? Meet my Henry?”

Maddie did not hesitate. If a lighthouse that had been shuttered and worthless for years could be repaired, she could run toward a child on a beach.

With a man who held out his hand.

Dear Readers,

I hope you enjoyed this short story--the characters are completely stand-alone and not part of another story...but this is how I write. Hope you have a fantastic day! you and your loved one have a romantic tradition? Do share. :)

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