Miriam and Her 13,149 Days, story by Janete Cabral at Spillwords.com

Miriam and Her 13,149 Days

Miriam and Her 13,149 Days

written by: Janete Cabral

 

Day 10,227

Life has a habit of repeating itself. Perhaps Miriam hadn’t learned her lesson, that’s what Eileen, her new-age guru neighbour said. But there it was, the same faded newsstand by the side of the dockyard. Here, she was found alone in a Moses basket on day seven. A retired fisherman, old man Jake heard her high-pitched cries. He took some convincing but his wife Aida claimed her. Their children had long left the nest, and so she became theirs.
Miriam sat on the bench next to the newsstand, watching the waves rocking the fishing boats as the sun set in the distance. Why here of all places? This tired and unloved dockyard in the edge of the world. She thought she’d feel better coming here. Henry had walked out after ten years together. It was brutal and unexpected and she was doubting everything again.
“Oyster, miss?”
A boy no older than six years old was handing her over an oyster. She looked up at the woman next to him, in her late twenties, with short auburn hair.
“I’m sorry,” the woman said, “we didn’t want to disturb you.”
“You look sad,” the boy said.
“Shush, Will!” the woman said. “I’m sorry, I’m Galène named after tranquil waters or so my mother told me.”
“Miriam. Thank you, but I really don’t like oysters.”
“These have a secret ingredient; you should try one.”
“I’m sorry, I have to go.”

***

Day 11,688

“Where are you taking me?” Tom said, laughing. “It stinks of fish!”
Miriam smiled. She wanted to share her special place with him, and for the newsstand to represent more than just abandonment. Although everything looked different now – the shipyard had become disused, and where fishermen had been setting off on their barges for decades, there were now tourists and cafés. Even the newsstand had been given a fresh lick of paint. “This is where Jake found me.”
Tom held her face in his hands and kissed her fiercely. Miriam wanted to hold on to this moment forever. Then he got on one knee and proposed. She said yes without hesitation. There were cheers from the crowd. A woman with auburn hair down to her shoulders came towards her. She looked vaguely familiar.
“Miriam, right?”
She was taken aback. “Do I know you?”
“My boy accused you of looking sad last time we saw you.”
“The oyster, I remember. I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.”
“Galène… Congratulations, you look happy.”
Miriam looked at the ring on her finger and linked arms with Tom. “Thank you.”
Galène smiled and walked away.
“Who was that?” Tom asked.
“I don’t know to be honest.”
“She seemed to know you.”

***

Day 12,418

The wind swept the ocean spray as Miriam wiped the tears away. She’d hoped she’d find some solace here, where Tom had proposed. The happiest day in her living memory. But it all had vanished since the accident. Every fibre in her body hurt but not half as much as the pain she carried in her heart. She would give everything to have that one day back. When everything felt possible.
“Come with me, you’re completely drenched.”
Miriam looked up. It was the oyster woman again, with the same fiery auburn hair and generous smile, though she couldn’t remember her name.
Galène held an umbrella over her and took her inside the Waterfront Café. Miriam thought she’d never move again. She was relieved someone else had decided for her. Someone who had been there when Tom proposed. It comforted her.
“Drink. It will help,” Galène said, pouring whiskey into two glasses.
Miriam downed the whiskey which burnt the back of her throat.
“What happened to you?” Galène asked.
Miriam couldn’t find the words. She just felt numb. She changed the conversation. “How is your boy?”
“Will is fine. He’s studying Fine Art at the Academy. These are all his,” Galène said, pointing to the paintings on the wall.
“He’s a kind boy. Is this place yours then?”
Galène nodded proudly. “I bought it about ten years ago. First, we sold oysters.”
Miriam looked around. She could swear she’d never seen this place before. But then again, her mind had been on other things.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Miriam didn’t. Once she said it out loud, it made it real. That Tom was dead, gone forever.
Galène didn’t insist. She held Miriam’s hand across the table. Miriam was startled by the soft touch of her hand. No one else had touched her since Tom. She left her hand in Galène’s.

***

Day 12,783

Miriam was thirty-five years old today. All twelve-thousand, seven-hundred and eighty-three days. She hadn’t meant to but she’d found herself back at the Waterfront café. Nothing much had changed it seemed, mirroring her life which had become more of a dull routine. For some reason, she had started thinking of Galène lately. Perhaps it was getting older. Sometimes it felt like things happened in cycles, like all that happened before must happen again. Or perhaps it was because Galène had witnessed her sadness, her happiness, and the brutal grief. A young woman with blue-dyed hair came to her table with a pen and a pad. Miriam was disappointed that she hadn’t seen Galène.

***

Day 13,149

Miriam closed her eyes and felt the warm breeze touch her cheeks. She felt content as she sat by the newsstand. Another year, and here she was, back where it all started.
“Miriam? Is that you?” Galène said.
“Galène! You’re here,” Miriam said, smiling.
“You remember my name this time!” Galène said.
“Of course. I came here last year, looking for you.”
“You did?”
Miriam could feel her cheeks burn. It was ridiculous after all. They barely knew each other. “I never thanked you properly, for being there for me.” She hugged Galène slightly awkwardly. It felt almost intimate. “And how is Will?”
“He’s in Italy on a scholarship, can you believe it?”
“He’s a talented young man.”
“Want to come in? You can have a drink on the house.”
“I should be the one getting it.”
Miriam sat by the window watching a leaf flying over the bench. She had lost count of how many times she’d been in that seat.
Galène poured coffee and sat across her. “So, are you going to tell me what brings you here year after year?”
“You’ve noticed, hey?”
Galène nodded gently. “You were hard to miss. The beautiful woman who sat by herself, looking so lost. So, I decided to send my boy over one day. I wanted to start the conversation.”
Miriam blushed. She was ready to tell her story.
In the end, Galène reached across the table and kissed her cheek.
Miriam felt butterflies. A rush of emotions. She hadn’t felt like this…well, since Tom. She was almost too scared to look her in the eyes. She didn’t want to find pity.
“Look at me, Miriam.”
Miriam looked up reluctant, Galéne was only inches away. She held her face in her hands and kissed her. Miriam never wanted to let go. Perhaps this was her cycle of happiness.

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