A Day at the Beach

A lady is sat on a bench. Her face is raised, eyes closed, catching some rays. A man approaches the lady. “Excuse me madam, is this seat taken?” He asks in a friendly manner.

“You can sit here for a while, however I am saving this seat for my husband, Bobby, he’s just gone to park the car and will be back any minute.” The man takes a seat and reaches into his pocket taking out a couple of sandwiches wrapped in foil.“Would you like one? It’s ham and cheese on white bread.” He holds the sandwich out in her direction. She reaches out and accepts the offer.

“Thank you, that is very kind of you. I usually eat brown bread, however…”

“Sometimes you like to treat yourself to white” he interrupts. She turns and looks at him, suspicious that he knew that.

“Yes, that’s right. I guess a lot of people feel that way.”

He smiles and takes a bite of his sandwich, bringing his hand up to his mouth to hide the food. “Beautiful day isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is, Bobby and I made a deal that whenever the sun came out, he would take me to the seaside for a picnic and ice cream.”

He smiles “He sounds like a true gentleman”, She cheerfully nods.

“Oh he is! He’s romantic, dreamy, and a true hero. He served in World War Two in the docks when he was 20 years old. He started as an apprentice. At night, he would study in air-raid shelters as the bombs were dropping above him. During the day, the ships would come in damaged from U-Boats, and it was his team’s job to diagnose the problem, and fix them as quick as possible so the boats could continue to deliver essential supplies to vulnerable people.”

The man continues to face forward. “It sounds like he was an unsung hero during a tough period.”

“Oh yes, he was!” With a big smile on her head she holds her hands up to her chest. “Granted he never received the George Cross, but he never expected to get one. He was happy that he was able to serve his country.” She takes a bite of her sandwich. “Once the war was over, he joined a shipping firm, climbing the ladder until he became managing director! He was given a company car and would take me to all the fancy galas, he’s just parking it now”. She looks over her shoulder, curious as to where her husband is. “What is taking him so long!” She turns back and takes another bite of her sandwich. “Do you have a wife?” She asks inquisitively.

The man continues to avoid eye contact with the lady. “I do. Her name is Penny.”

She smiles, “that’s a pretty name, where did you two meet?”

He leans forward, still avoiding eye contact, “At work. She was the PA to the owner of a company I was a…” he pauses, turning his head slightly to make contact before turning back, “a senior manager. I would speak to her every day, each time I would get more and more confident until I built up enough confidence to ask her to a dance. From that night I knew I wanted to marry Penny and build a family with her.” He chuckles to himself. “She used to keep me grounded whenever things got too stressful at work. She would say ‘the moment you see work disappear from your rear-view mirror, you leave whatever happened behind you and you devote the time you have with your family’, and so I did”

“So where is she now?”

“She was taken from me about ten years ago. We would have been married for 65 years.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. She sounds like a very special woman” He smiles and nods in agreement. “That she was.” He turns and smiles at her. “Did you enjoy the sandwich?”

“Oh yes thank you” She continues to look around, confused. “Where is Bobby? We can’t stay out too long, he managed to get two tickets to see Cliff Richard tonight!”

The man takes his final bite of his sandwich and stands up from the bench. “I’m here Penny. Are you ready to go?”

She looks confused. “I don’t understand, you’re not Bobby. You’re much older. My Bobby is a lot younger than you! What are you doing?” She says anxiously.

He reaches down and holds both her hands in his. “Penny, this isn’t the 50s, it’s 2017. We are a lot older now, and it’s our 65th wedding anniversary today. For the last ten years, you have slowly lost who you are which has broken my heart. But every year, for the last 10 years, on our anniversary, I have bought you here to remind you of a happier time.”

She begins to panic and continues to look around. “I don’t believe you! You’re trying to trick me! Where’s my Bobby?”

He sighs and begins to pick her up. “Bobby asked me to collect you. Work called and asked him to go in for a meeting but he is going to pick you up at six to take you to see Cliff Richard”

Her look of confusion quickly turns to delight. “Oh that Bobby! He’s such a dedicated employee. Did I tell you he’s a managing director?”

He leads her to a people carrier where a care-worker is waiting for them. He smiles lovingly “That you did Penny, and he told me he loves you with all his heart.”

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