The Jetty


“Can we go home now,” she asks.
“No, let’s at least go to the jetty.”
The jetty.
The jetty, the jetty, the jetty.
The jetty.
We’ll go to the jetty.
They turn around. They re-route towards home. Towards a beach home.
I stay. I remember.
The jetty.
I walk beyond the shore, into the easy, lapping waves.
So small. So harmless.
I walk onto the first high slab of concrete.
I feel the thick, bright green algae that covers it. I feel the water rush over my feet, above my ankles. I wonder if the yellow markers on either side, designating the jetty well into the water, are intended to keep me out, to keep me off. I decide I don’t care. There’s no one here to tell me to get off. Rule or not, no one is here to enforce it.
I stay.
I take a few steps on the concrete, remembering. I take a sip of my drink. Coping? I always try to refrain from sipping while memories surface, just in case the former is true.
A moment.
I wait for the last wave to recede in order to better gauge the drop off. Another  small wave surges, and I decide, No matter. I return myself to the sand.
They are ahead of me as I remember.
The jetty. The jetty, the jetty, the jetty.
I wonder what they talk about. I close the gap. I always walk fast.
Crabs. Crabs, crabs, crabs.
Sand moles scuttle around their feet. Mom pretends to stomp on one. Amy lets out a pleased shriek.
I close my eyes behind my sunglasses. The gap is closed and nothing has changed.


Except for the fact that everything has changed, since what he told me will never happen, can never happen. Not now. At least not the way we wanted it.


A puppy.
“I want a puppy,” she says. “Look how cute that puppy is!”
I look. I realize.
“Couldn’t find a puppy much cuter than that,” Mom cheerily calls to its owner.
The puppy is small. White. Fluffy. Like Bitzi.
I think of the picture, since it holds the memory.
Joe. Joe holds Bitzi. I see his tired smile.
The memory comes alive. He was tired.
I think it was the first spring. He was wearing a light blue, long-sleeved Hollister shirt. We bought it at the beach. It had a softness he loved and he couldn’t resist. A creme-colored, thickly knitted chenille throw was wrapped around his shoulders. We were upstairs, in the Feeleys’ living room, sitting on the couch closest to the kitchen. It must have been a bit of an effort just to be up there. Joe held Bitzi, enjoying her countless kisses, her furious lapping of his bald head.
“It feels good,” he had said, although, conversely, he always hated dogs licking his face in the morning, wakening him to the world. In the picture, a small cowboy hat provides Joe’s head of its sole adornment. It had been placed on Bitzi, and I assume Joe removed it, placing it on his own head as he tried to make light of the situation.
The jetty. I want to get back to the jetty.
I close my eyes.
I need to run. Running would get me there more quickly.
The puppy. Mere seconds have elapsed, and they are still adoring the puppy.
“I need to go,” I tell Amy.
“Are you okay? What’s wrong.”
“Nothing’s wrong – I’m fine. I just need to go.”
She begins to follow me.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” I say. “I just need to go back.”
I begin to run, pounding the firmly packed sand. Enjoying the distance now that the tide is going out. Pumping my left arm while holding my cup in my right hand.
Running. Thinking. Knowing it’s not far. Wondering if they’re behind me, used to checking for Amy. Reminding myself that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Run.
My sunglasses are slipping. The blue ones, with Senior Fling 2012 printed on the side. Senior Fling. I was hoping he’d be there. I wanted him to meet my friends. Of course I would have wanted him there, I realize. Because Joe would have been there. Of course I wanted someone there, for all of it. So it would hurt less.
I run. I think about my Ran Bans. My favored glasses. They wouldn’t have been slipping. They were Joe. Bought for each other or ourselves, that’s what we wore. They were us. Superficial thoughts.
I run. The neon green house ahead and to my left tells me that I’ve nearly arrived. We’re  two houses beyond. I pass the sandcastle, so close to the shore, and veer into the ocean. I wade in, letting the water course between my thighs.
I saunter back out, running up to my beach bag, making a retrieval, and continuing up to the house. Briskly passing down the sand-strewn wooden walkway. Dumping my feet into the bucket at the screen door. Swinging the porch door open. Realizing family is at the table, ready to see me entering the house without a cover-up. Saying hello quickly and excusing myself for something I must do.
Nearly running up to the second floor, shutting myself inside my room. Sitting on the comforter, knowing I can brush the sand off later.
Writing. Needing to. Needing to write.
The jetty.


We were in Rehobeth that day. Always Rehobeth.
We went for a walk.
We passed a jetty in the water. I remember the dark brown, aged wooden pilings on either side, drenched wet from the ocean and salt spray.
It’s a wisp of a memory, as always, but I think back.
It’s one of my favorites.
Disengaged from between the pairs of pilings, he had returned to firmer sand. I did a dance, in my spritely way, as the water swirled around my ankles. I hopped from the slight elevation, with a twinkle in my eye.
“Will you do something for me?,” he asked, a smile lighting on his lips.
“Do what?,” I questioned.
“Will you give me a little girl, just like you?”
One of my quiet smiles begins to spread across my face.
I can feel it. I can feel the glow as it spreads within me. Happiness.
It’s a happy sort of pleasure. For all my shortcomings, for all of my failings, he still wants a little girl like me.
I see her in my mind. I see a small me, playing on the beach. The way children play, running in oblong little circles, slashing in the shallowest of waters. I see her dark eyes, and her long, salt sprayed waves.
I see her small. Small and beautiful, as I can tell he sees me.
“Yeah,” I say.
Smiling. Content. Happy. So happy.
Happy with this man. Happy that things are falling into place. Happy that this will be my life.
It must have been the summer before.
The way it glimmers in my mind tells me it must have been that summer.
We were finally feeling like our lives were ours. Finally realizing that the future we had waited for would be ours before long.


Now it’s since. In since, I stand on a jetty alone.
The water swirls around my ankles as it did that summer, but so much has changed. No one is here to remind me of my promise. No one is here to realize that in all the sweet words he spoke to me, for all its meaning, that one question was the sweetest of all.
Bittersweet, it lingers, its memory swirling in the water as I stand alone.


Penned: Thursday, August 9, 2012.

3 Responses to “The Jetty”
  1. Amy stackler says:

    Beautiful. I love the sound of the word Jetty. Like waves rolling. I remember having to leave places quickly. I think of you often and pray for you. Love, Amy.

  2. Tammy Evans says:

    That was truly amazing! You are such a strong girl. Just remember as you walk those Jettys, you will never walk alone. As you walk the beach, remember when you see only one set of footprints… you know the rest. You will never be alone! I love you and think of you very often!
    Love you,
    Aunt Tammy

  3. Ray Sikes says:

    Janie, I find this entry not only beautiful, but oddly encouraging. Keep healing, keep pressing on, and know that where you are is okay, too.

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